We flew high above any storms that may have battered the surface, and the vast, burning sands of the Sahara desert. Travelers of old would have needed to cross these wide expanses by horse, sailing ship and camel. I did it on three different pressurized metal tubes hurtling through the air at nearly 600 miles an hour and over 7 ½ miles above the ground. But then I don’t suppose on sailing ships one had to deal with jetlag upon arrival…
While my trip was long (by modern standards) it was all smooth. All my flights have been on time, and I experienced no problems – until the very end. More on that in a moment.
The layover in London was lengthy, 7 ½ hours, but having access to a nice lounge helped. I was able to get a bit of work done, and even caught close to an hour nap.
As I look at the map, and where Nairobi is located, it occurred to me that this will be my first time to cross the equator into the Southern Hemisphere. It sits only about 125 miles south of the equator, but south just the same. (After I got here I had to fill the sink just to watch which way the water swirls here, because I’ve heard it swirls the other way in the southern hemisphere – and it does, or at least I think it does. It started swirling clockwise, which I'm pretty sure is opposite of back home...)
As we started our descent into Nairobi, the pilot came on to tell us there had been some weather moving in, and we were going to fly a holding pattern for a few minutes to see if it would clear up. If not, he would have to divert to Mombassa, which sits out on the coast, some 300 miles east and south of Nairobi.
After a few minutes, the pilot came back on to say the weather had subsided some, and he was going to try to get us down, and to “hope for the best.” That is really NOT what one wants to hear from the pilot as he is preparing to land a commercial jetliner! But since I’m still here to write this, you can know the landing was smooth. Perhaps he just got a kick out of shaking up the passengers…
It was recommended I get a reservation at the 4-Points Sheraton, which I did, but there was some confusion. I had no idea there were two 4-Points Sheraton’s in Nairobi, one in the airport complex, and the other about 10 miles away. Unbeknownst to me, when I asked for a reservation, I got replies from both. Assuming it was the same place, I only replied to one of them – the further away one.
On my way out I began to suspect there was a problem, because all the other men were staying at the airport 4-points. At the other one, they told me my card has already been charged, so I should just stay with them. Problem was, I never gave them a card number – and the number he read off to me is not even close to any card I have. So I told them I would not stay, and would return to the airport 4-Points.
Upon arrival at the airport 4-Points, they claimed to have no communication with me. But I was able to pull up on my tablet the email they sent me yesterday about my reservation. I’m too tired and jetlagged to figure out what happened, but I’m at the right hotel, I have a room, and I’ll be here when the Ghanaians and Nigerians fly in tomorrow so we can all take the bus out to Nakuru for the ILP.
One curious thing happened as we came into the airport zone, where the airport, several hotels and a number of businesses are. The driver told me I have to get out of the car and join the line of people going through a security building, and he’d meet me on the other side. He said to leave my bags, but I took my backpack with me, since it has my money and computer.
Inside we all had to put our bags and cell phones on a belt to be scanned, and then walk through a metal detector and collect our bags and phones again. This was happening very rapidly as people almost rushed through to catch their cars and busses again. And the metal detector went off continuously when we each went through, which I assume means it was detecting something, but no one was really watching it, and I never saw anyone stopped. So I have to wonder what was the point of this little exercise…