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The Kenya Diaries - Arriving in Nairobi

Sunday, 8 January 2012
Very big tortoises.
On Monday 4th January, I touched down in Nairobi, for my first taste of Africa. The first thing that struck me? Rain on the tarmac. Rain? Rain on the tarmac? There's...there's rain here?

Dim, admittedly. But nonetheless, my first unedited thought.

I'd arranged a taxi through the hostel to come and pick me up, thus eliminating the anxiety of figuring out the Kenyan bus system after a sleepless night on the plane. I'd taken the first in a series of Pansy Ass options that were to follow me throughout my trip.

I arrived at the Wildebeest Camp sometime in the morning, a little anxious and very tired. This was my first time in Africa, and my first time travelling long haul alone. I was ready, and excited, but I'd challenge anyone not to be a little aprehensive on the verge of such a trip.

The hostel was off Ngong Road, a busy stretch of highway heading from central Nairobi out towards Karen. It was a funny set up - a lush garden set away on a stony dusty path. There were luxury Safari tents, private rooms, a small dorm and a few regular tents set up on the lawn. I'd plumped for a single room, which was sparse, but had a double bed which I was ready to collapse onto.

I usually follow the rule of jet lag - man up and power through. But if you arrive somewhere in the morning all bets are off. I had a gorgeous 2 hour sleep, the kind that's made all the better by dreaming about laying flat for a cramped 10 hour flight.

After my nap, I braved the camp itself. I'm not exactly a social numpty, but how exactly does one go about just thrusting yourself upon another group? I was a little alarmed to see that no one seemed to be alone...and that no one appeared to be speaking English. This is where I let myself down. I can muster a few words of French, and a tiny scraping of Irish (pay attention - this will come in handy later on).

My great opportunity came when I was waiting for the shower (which was also the toilet... and right by the office/dining room) I met an Australian girl who couldn't shut the door properly, and offered to stand guard whilst she washed. The next few minutes were spent trying to figure out how to take our relationahip to the next level. Should I just come out with it and ask her to be my friend? She did kind of owe me, let's be fair.

In the end I decided the best course of action would be to hold on to that door for dear life and prove the strength of my friendship and how important I knew this was. Turns out, I should have concentrated more on letting her out. Entrapment doesn't hold great promises for lifelong companionship.

After calling the Australian quits, I headed out into the gardens, lay about and read until dinner. I tried in vain to butt in on a conversation between three American girls, but my jetlagged brain decided to call it quits, and head to bed early.

Here I was faced with the familiar gnawing feeling you get when alone in an unfamiliar city...Have I made a big mistake?

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