Newark – London. This is air travel like you dream about. Easy and uncomplicated. Watched 2 movies in flight: The Descendants (recommended) and The Sitter (not so much). Virgin Atlantic + 100 pts.
Heathrow Transfer: We had one hour to make the flight to Nairobi. We walked 100 miles to have our carry-on bags searched again. Why? Why??? Okay, maybe not 100 miles, but I am convinced that Terry Gilliam got his inspiration for his movie Brazil from that hellish, Byzantine warren of soul-sucking hallways and conveyor belts called Heathrow Airport. Then we speed walked back to the Nairobi flight – DOWN THE EXACT SAME 100 MILES OF SOUL SUCKING HALLWAYS! We could have just skipped from one plane to the other, but no. In the far distance of the hallways, a tiny woman in a red dress shouted at us in an English accent: “Nairobi flight?!” “Yes!” we croaked, as we waddled as fast as we could. “Run!” she shouted, “They’re shutting the doors!” We ran. Virgin Atlantic: + 10 for waiting for waiting for us. Heathrow: – 10,000.
London – Nairobi: Easy flight, only half full, moved to a window seat where I had both seats to stretch out in. Only drawback was oddly macho flight attendant who talked like a soccer hooligan occasionally. “Slept” maybe 3 hours. Virgin Atlantic: + 25.
Nairobi: We made it, our checked bags did not. A helpful Kenyan at a desk said that “they” would deliver them to Kabarak University, where we are staying, on Wednesday. It is Wednesday now. We shall see. Virgin Atlantic: – 50 (not 100 b/c I blame *^%#$ Heathrow).
We were met (at 7 am local time, 12 midnight EST)) by cheerful Kenyan Quakers, and we were loaded onto a minibus, which the driver jump started by rolling downhill in the parking lot. Quaint local custom? I found Nairobi depressing. The lack of sleep was becoming an issue. Had a stop at a beautiful overlook of the Rift Valley. Saw a family of baboons on the side of the road. Arrived at Karabak at 3 pm. Kenyan Quakers: + 100
Kabarak University & FWCC: Zombie-like from lack of sleep, we were steered through a series of registrations. Everyone was super-dooper cheerful, which made me want to start behaving like a soccer hooligan. At my dorm, there was a long cue for keys. Although there are two to a room, there is only one key. Quaint local custom? And then there was the mix up between the room number you were assigned on your name tag, the room number on the post-it notes on the rooms, and your actual room number. Perhaps Gilliam had visited Kabarak too?
So far, I am the only person in my room. That’s the good news. The bad news: the toilets are holes in the floor in a communal bathroom. That’s right. No throne to sit on. I would have thought that FWCC might have alerted us privileged westerners that the decadent porcelain toilets we are used to are not available in Kenya, due to a quaint local custom. Now, I must learn how to aim in whole new way.
The rest of the afternoon and evening was a mixture of welcome ceremonies, joyful if bleary meetings with friends, and a furious struggle with both my iPhone and my laptop. AT&T had told me I could use my iPhone in Kenya and sent me instructions on how to minimize data charges etc. I had told my friends and family they could text me. My phone cannot get a signal here and I have clearly missed a step along the way. The wifi at Kabarak is not user friendly, requiring you to re-assign the HTTP proxy and the HTTP port before trying to sign in using the provided password. I have dutifully entered all the numbers and it still doesn’t work. This left me with no way to communicate with family to say I’m here and I’m safe. I finally talked a nice Kenyan student into logging me on to a library computer and got the word out that way. This is being written in the computer lab Wednesday morning as another Kenyan works on my computer. But I am feeling a little more civil, with some sleep and a beautiful day to enjoy. I am taking the morning off from big gatherings of Quakers to get my head on straight (writing this blog post is therapy for me). This afternoon, I will begin the spiritual journey I came here for. Kabarak University: – 50. Kenyan Friends: + 100 FWCC: – 50.