Kenya - To Nairobi
Sat 1 Nov
The man on the phone had assured me several times that I could pay for my ticket on the morning. I wasn't sure if this was because I had opted for "Royal Class" or because I was a westerner but it would be nice to think this honour is extended to all customers.
It was dark when I arrived at the bus station but they had a comfortable waiting room. I tried chatting to the girl next to me but she was shy or sleepy; it was still early. I collected the ticket and made my way to the coach. Before we set off a young man approached me with a hand written note from the shy girl. It had her phone number.
We cleared the border by 1030. The countryside was not obviously different. We stopped in Kisumu, a large town on the shores of Lake Victoria, and were told we had 40mins for lunch. There were at least four banks with ATMs so I filled up with Kenyan Shillings and bought myself some fruit.
As we drove on we seemed surrounded by mountains. Actually it was the mighty Rift Valley escarpment. Despite being overcast and threatening rain I was struck by the colours: grey sky, blue jacaranda, yellow-barked acacias, purple mountains, pink flamingos. On the long hill up the side of the escarpment I saw they are still selling sheepskin rugs (I had bought one here in 1970).
The bus stopped at River Road and it was beginning to get dark. A long-standing friend called Rose had promised to meet me but she wasn't around. Not the most safe or comfortable place to be waiting. I tried calling her mobile and home numbers. I continually turned-down taxi drivers. After 15mins I finally caught sight of her coming towards me. "Sorry if you've been waiting long, I was a little late leaving the sauna" she said with a smile, and off we went.
I'd first met Rose and children eight years ago when a London acquaintance asked me to deliver Christmas presents. Several times since we've met up when I've been in town. With the son now at university in Canada and older daughter at boarding school, there was only "young" Sarah at home - now 14 and quite delightful. She seemed pleased to see me again too.
Kenya - To Nairobi