Archive for the Category »Africa «

Getting Around Athi River Traffic on Mombasa Highway on the Way to Kitui

Traffic.

Wherever you go, you can’t avoid it. It’s a phenomenon that when you get on the highway, everyone else gets on at exactly the same time! And when the highway you’re traveling is one lane each direction; you have to share with massive trucks, hundreds of cars and matatus; and it’s Christmas — you best be prepared for anything.

We finally started our journey to Kitui for Christmas. It started off easy enough. Nothing like driving back from the coast [still the worst traffic ever]. We’re rolling, and the sign hung on the walkway over Mombasa Highway just as you get to Athi River should’ve been an omen.

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Within minutes, there’s a line of cars, none moving, stretching into the horizon. No movement moving forward and no cars coming in the opposite direction. Nothing. Everyone’s confused. Traffic can be bad in Kenya, especially Mombasa Highway, but not like this. This was a bad sign considering we just got on the road and could see cars literally to the end of the earth.

As we sat there, I knew it was just a matter of time before Kenyans did what Kenyans do when stuck in traffic. And any Kenyan reading this knows exactly what happens next.

It started with one person, running out of patience and making a break for it.

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Then the fun began… more…

Hanging Around Embakasi, Mlolongo, Nairobi, and Trying Out Naked Pizza

After returning from the coast and a day before heading out to Kitui, we had a day to just improvise. There were some errands needing to be run, but I just go with the flow when the Malombe sisters head out to shopping centers.

We stopped by a shopping center in Embakasi, a division of Nairobi on the east side. Kenya’s main airport, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, opened in 1958 and was known then as Embakasi Airport. The lady was explaining to me how much more developed it is now than when she was a kid living in the area. What stood out most to me, though, were how many people just hung their clothes on the balcony to dry. Nothing wrong with it; actually, I found it quite fascinating.

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On The Road From Watamu to Nairobi; Most of It Spent Stuck Just Outside of Mombasa

After a few days of fun in the sun, we started our long journey back to Nairobi. Between Watamu and Mombasa in Kilifi is the regional office for Plan International, the NGO that Nduku works for. At first Nduku just wanted a photo, one of those “I was there” moments, from the street, but it’s a bit off the road so I hopped out the car to get closer.

And closer. And closer. And how often are we going to be here? So I just rolled up on the building.

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Touring the Ruins of Gedi

Though we were staying in a paradise, we had to get out and explore the surrounding area. And just around the corner was what was left of a Swahili town called the Ruins of Gedi.

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With Resort in Rear View, We Headed Out to Watamu and Malindi

We ventured out of the resort to get a feel of the local scene. On the way out we made a stop to get some drinks when we heard dancing, singing and music behind Neema Shop. It was a community meeting with some of the women performing a traditional dance.

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Low Tide at Temple Point Resort’s Private Beach

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Pili explained to us that the Mida Creek is at low tide around 11:00 am, so first thing in the morning, after breakfast at least, we headed out to the beach. In the evening during high tide, the water comes all the way up the beach, creating a little private area with crystal clear waters and white sands. At 11:00 am with the tide receded, you can walk out pretty far where the water was, all the way around the rocks, through the sea grass and plants, looking for wildlife.

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Amazing Welcome to Our Stay at Temple Point Resort in Watamu, Kenya

After spending a night in Bamburi, the ladies and I headed north to Watamu for Temple Point Resort. The resort is essentially located in the Watamu Marine National Park, between the calm waters of Mida Creek and the Indian Ocean.

Temple Point Resort in Watamu Kenya

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Spending a Night at Papillon Garden Bar Villa in Bamburi, Kenya

As soon as we landed after a 17 hours of transit, we hit the road again for the coast. It’s about an 8 hour drive [with stops] where half the roads smooth before you get to the parts that looked like IEDs went off on them. The trip is pretty uneventful. You may see an elephant or some zebras along the way, but it’s just driving through the countryside of Kenya [300 Miles of Kenya’s Countryside from Nairobi to Mombasa (2012)].

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Visiting the Bomb Blast at the Former U.S. Embassy in Nairobi

In 1998 terrorists struck the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania simultaneously. Where there once stood the embassy in Nairobi, there’s now a park and memorial for those who were casualties of the attack.

Kenya Bomb Blast

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Visiting Nairobi National Museum to Revisit Kenyan History

Najwa Gaines

Najwa enjoying the morning sun

I’ve always read books about African history. Books about the continent, individual countries, individual individuals and anything else about how Africans got to where they are today. Naturally, a lot of the books focused on colonialism, the civil wars that broke out after independence, the “Big Men” and the heroes.

Kenya’s past has been relatively free of the strife other countries have endured, some to this day. No Idi Amin, no Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga, no Charles Taylor or Robert Mugabe. No genocides, no military dictators or coups, no militia takeovers.

But, there was the Mau Mau uprising.

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