Lots to catch up on here, let me get started...we left off in dahab..a paradise of beaches and chill bars..after, we headed back into cairo before hitting Nairobi
We spent a full day in cairo checking out some of the worlds largest mosque's, a hanging church..hanging on the byzantine gates to the city..a cemetary where a group of poverty stricken people have become squatters and a community now paid by the family of the deceased to look over those burried in thier neighborhood..as if they would get up and move elsewhere once dead, strolled through the many streets of one of africas largest grand bazaars and then enjoyed falafels and chai all as spanish tourists..speaking only in spanish to each other and to people addressing us..twas a grand time. On our only attempt to take the subway around town, kyle and i both stepped into the unbeknownst to us "women only" car and once kyle realized it, we both jumped off and waited for the next train to part..i think kyles face was red for about a minute solid...and once we split i had an amzing time attempting to stay at the door so i didnt miss the stop, i think the train stopped for about 10 seconds tops at each stop with women pouring into the car..im glad i played powder puff or i may not have had the skills to tuck, dip the shoulder and go for it.
We parted ways with our new friend and godsend, Amir, the hostel owner in cairo who had arranged and given advice for almost every step we took in the course of that week. He was a wonderful guy, the one who originally gave me the advice not to let anyone follow us. We left the hostel and headed to the airport, en flight to nairobi. However, just before we pulled in, i went to check some info on our hostel and realized we had reservations for the night after we arrived..and then realized, in fact, we were not flying that night..and turned around and headed straight into the arms of amir..asking for a place to crash for one more night. We had a delightful time with some kids we met at the hostel and amir drinking some strange coconut milk concotion and smoking sheesha.
The following day we hit the airport, and landed in nairobi at 4am and were fast alseep for a few hours. After waking, we spent the afternoon at our friend Scarlett's work..a place called Amani, where they take refugee women and give them work producing goods to sell and a great place for food. We also spent that night with scarlett and her two roommates, hannah and rachel, and a few other friends for a home cooked meal from Mrs. Seneff..it was amazing!!! We then headed off to a bar with a guy who worked at the hostel and got stuck with the bill without realizing it, but before that had a great time watching a kenyan band cover american hits from all genres and decades while sipping on some Tusker--as they say in kenya, "its time for a tusker"
We forgot to set our watches to the correct time zone and were about 45 minutes late to catch our bus for the safari we had just booked...luckily..it was just us and a couple..kenyan 25ish woman and a german 55ish man...hmmmm...who didnt seem to mind our tardiness. Our friends travelling with us had a mystery engagement ring that would sometimes be on the girls finger and sometimes not...it was just a mystery to us...
Our friends left the following day and kyle and i had a personal safari for the rest of the three days through Masai-Mara national park and then in Lake Nakuru National Park. We had a great time. the roads were intense at times, leaving my back in shambles after 4 days of it...but the scenery even without any animals was absolutely breathtaking. We looked around for hours on end without ever getting tired of the landscape, it was stunning. Our driver was rad..we asked him to stop a number of times just to get a cool pic of a tree. We saw what i, against kyle's will, am calling a modified version of the big five. The big five is: buffalo, elephant, lion, rhino, and leopard...we saw all these minus the leopard, but instead we saw a cheetah..which isnt technially part of the big 5, but its just as rad. We also saw the following...lots and lots of giraffs, zebra, thomson gazelle, hardebeast, wildebeast, ostrich, spotted hyenna, thousands of pink flamingos covering the edges of lake nakuru, baboons, topeke, hippos, warthog and im sure others i cant remember..when i say we saw them..we were close..typically within 20 feet or closer. We were about 5 feet from a family of lions 3 times. I think niether one of us knew what to expect and kinda felt cheesy doing a safari, but it was well worth the money and exceeded both of our expectations.
When we finished our safari, we went straight to our palace abroad..tsavo 4, where our friends scarlett, hannah, and rachel were overwhelmingly hospitable and let us crash for a few nights..there we enjoyed capfulls, uno, skype with the langston trio, the dundies, laundry, hot showers, fellowship and much more. We had a great time being with familiarity. Our final night in Nairobi, we all went to carnivore, one of the worlds top 50 restaurants where there are lots of kinds of..guess what...meat! We had chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork, ostrich, crocodile and a delicious baked potatoe..and dawa..a concoction they call medicine made of vodka, sugar water, honey and limes..it was pretty tasty...as well as great conversation and community.
One of the highlights...only in retrospect, of nairobi was the constant police roadblocks..We had read everywhere that Nairobi was one of the sketchiest citys in africa and that corrupt police saturated the streets...The first time we were stopped, i must say i was a bit scared he insisted that since we werent in safety belts, we would be charged and brought to the station...our cab driver talked him out of it..pointing out how rediculous it was and once he realized noone in the car was bribing him, he let us go..it happened i think 3 other times while we were there...once more without our seatbelts on..we were in our safari van still and didnt think it applied..but after that we laughed as we were pulled over..what else could they possibly come up with...we were released without threat..At one time though we did get halfway to the station when our safari driver talked them out of it as well, but while waiting, kyle and i had written the US embassy and scarletts number on our hands just in case..haha..
The following morning, Kyle and i did a shakedown of all our stuff that had begun to overtake their living room and got all organized for the commute into tanzania where we were headed to climb kilimanjaro....we headed out around two and after getting fussy and trying to bargain down the visa price into tanzania...unsuccessfully..we made it around 830, grabbed some dinner and met with a guy sharing info for the following morning--we were to be ready at 730am for departure. Kyle and i repacked..again..having to shift all our stuff around for what was going on the mountain..on our backs, and then seperately with a porter who would not hike with us but meet us at each camp, and then the stuff that would stay in arusha with the agency. So, everything we had that was of any value..monetarily, or otherwise priceless to us...i mean everything..was consolidated into the packs we had been carrying all trip with just a riancoat and water inside...our personal bags that usually contained all this, and in all circumstances would not leave our side were packed away as well...since it had been shifted now to our bigger packs. Kyle and i left his dig camera charging and ran to breakfast and after we ordered kyle ran up for money and came down, we woofed down some eggs toast and tea and gave a quick handshake to the guide and were on our way upstairs to bring everything down into the car in one sweep..our stuff had respread into about 7 or 8 bags and we didnt want to drag it down to brakfast, then move it again into the car...in this 15-20 minutes we were robbed...as youve read from kyles post..and i commend him on that last blog, i think he captured exactly what we both felt..its still a bit shocking to me writing it all..i know in retrospect it seems so simple and why did we leave any of it in the room..but really..it couldnt have been done any other way...the additional misery is that my ipod had broken in dahab and my mom and roommate had gone through a great deal to ship me a new ipod with all my music on it..and kyle and i had spent part of an afternoon retrieving it from dhl and customs just 2 days prior...the frustration is indescribable to feel as a person with feelings and dignity you have been overlooked becuse you are american and they feel we deserved to just be taken from..moving along...
As kyle mentioned, while all this was going on, i began to get sick..and then it just digressed rapidly. After four hours of running around with the police, i was finally in..a different...hotel room where i remained in fetal position most of the day with a fever, a pounding headache, and body aches the ran from my knees all the way up to my neck..along with the obvious runs.. Kyle spent the next few hours with benjamin, our agency contact..getting things organized and getting back most of the nearly thousand dollars i had paid to hike kilimanjaro...obviously i was not going to climb feeling like this..and with the stress of being without a passport. I insisted he go ahead and climb..i have travelled alone before and i was sure id be fine for a few days...he reluctantly agreed and did everything, as a guy, he knew how to take care of me. Kyle and i did get out to walk around before the sun set and offer rewards to any electronic shops we thought they may sell our stuff to..and hit the sack after catching pierce brosnin's staggering appearance in Dante's Peak.
I caught a bus the following morning very early for about 10 hours into Dar es Salaam..for all intents and purposes the capital city of Tanzania..where i got a decent hotel room for a few nights to recover. My cab driver insisted i pay 10000 shekels for the 5 minute ride from the bus station..about ten bucks..and because he was sent to get me from our friend in Arusha, benjamin, i made him call him for the price..and when he wouldnt give me the phone, ben called back and asked for me..he said dont pay any more than 3000..haha...oh efficient africa..i wanted to punch his lights out and tell him to F.O...if he had known how miserable i was feeling after that bus ride..without music..again..i remind you...and after all id been through the past 2 days..instead i did it a bit nicer..but not much
I slept like a baby last night and began eating again today and wandered the streets of dar for a bit. Ill spend the weekend laying low probably..until monday when i can hit the embassy with all my correct documents in hand and begin works for a new passport...its not the grandest feeling in the world to be in tanzania as a white woman, without my brother, and without proof of being an american citizen...
I have to say...i have had offers from about 10 people who are not family if they can do anything or send me money...i am sentimental for sure, but it speaks volumes about humanity in general when you are in need and the cup runneth over like this...thank you so much to all of you who have responded to our unfortunate trail of events these last few days...i know there are some real bastards out there..and it feels crappy to go around ignoring everyone saying hello to me...im just not ready to trust anyone..with anything...not even my words right now...it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth for this country and i know kyle and i look forward to replacing the taste with renewed trust and conversations with people in the next few weeks..
Kyle and i meet back up on wednesday and from there well likely hit the beautiful beaches of zanzibar for a few days...
long winded, eh..sorry about that...well try and blog better the next few weeks..
we love you guys and love that we can share this with you..wish you could all see what we are seeing...and we wish we had pics to show you...DAMN THIEVES!!!