Saturday 14 August 2010
I'm at a loss for words, this has been the most incredible experience so far, and I've only been in Kenya for 8 hours. Once I arrived at the airport, looked around, saw the in airport mosque, and the dilapidated building, I had a split second thought of : "I'm in Kenya... alone... what was I thinking??" But that thought went as quickly as it came.
I made it through customs (receiving my visa on arrival), and got my bags all within a 45 min time frame. My driver was waiting for me as I stepped out to the lobby. He drove me over to the Wilson airport, which isn't an airport by any western civilization's standard. It's comprised of a number of small buildings, each building (which may contain 2 rooms) is for a separate airline. I was told by my travel agent that I'd get the flight tickets, etc, on arrival, so I thought my driver would have it. (Logically). But no. He dropped me off at Air Kenya and said that they'd take care of me. But when I went to check in (with a man standing behind a desk made of plywood), he said I needed to be at Safarilink airlines, based on the itinerary my travel agent gave me. So, someone walked me over to the next building and handed me off. After my bags and I made it through the security checkpoint (which is all there was inside the Safarilink "airport"), a Safarilink representative and I came to realize that something wasn't right since my name wasn't on their passenger list.
I was driven over to the main office, where a guy tried figuring everything out for me, told me not to worry and to come back in an hour. (My flight wasn't scheduled to leave for 2.5 hrs - per my itinerary). Thankfully I had a contact name on said itinerary, and the airline rep made numerous calls to her. Finally (without a moment to spare and an hour before the flight I thought I was scheduled for) they figured out that I was in fact supposed to be on an Air Kenya flight. I was driven over to the correct building by a guy who was in no hurry and made conversation with every person we passed. The Air Kenya representative apologized for the inconvenience caused due to the initial confusion. He asked me if my bags had already gone through security at Safarilink. When I told him it had, he smiled, said OK, and took my bags directly to the plane without passing them through security there. I went to the reception desk, and was greeted with more apologies and my correct itinerary for the remainder of my stay. I quickly passed security and walked out to the small 12 seater plane just as it was boarding.
But, the thing is: everyone was SO kind. SO helpful. I don't think I've met people as kind as this before. Part of me wonders if it's because it's their culture, or if it's because they work off of tips. I'd like to think it's the first. And not once did I feel stressed or worried at all. I knew they'd take care of me and get things settled. Which is so unlike what normally happens on a trip I take.
The plane ride was so neat, we landed in a small city called Nanyuki, where the airport was a landing strip and a few small shacks. I was greeted by one of my guides from the Sosian Ranch who was also my driver. He's a walking encyclopedia. On our 2 hr drive to Sosian I saw dik-dik's (the smallest relative of the antelope), giraffe, zebra, ostrich, wart hogs, and elephants! And I wasn't even on a real game drive. It was awesome.
As soon as I arrived at Sosian, the owner, Annabell, greeted me at the door, took me in and showed me around the breathtaking ranch. She then took me to my cottage... and ho-ly cow. It's spectacular! I kept wanting to pinch myself. THIS IS GOING TO BE THE BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!
I had lunch with Annabell near the pool - and it was a feast. She said we'll have tea and cake around 4 which is only 2 hours later. I don't know if my stomach will have space. I'm going to get fat here. But after tea we'll go on a game drive, eat dinner in the bush, then have a night drive on the way back to the lodge.
I'm in love with Africa. Seriously. Maybe I'll stay...