The journey from central Nairobi was an interesting one. It was the first time I’d set foot outside of my hotel since arriving two days earlier, and the absolute first time on the city streets in daylight.
Nairobi is an insanely busy city. The rush hour I travelled through felt like it went on for days and I’ve never seen so many people entering and exiting buildings at one time.
The roads were so hectic throughout the city, I can’t imagine how anybody ever reaches their destination. But there seemed some order to the chaos. To the untrained eye this was an absolute circus, but I could tell that everybody around me knew their next move in this city-wide morning dance routine. I was just happy to be in a car and not responsible for the next leg of my journey.
Enormous crowds of people gathered at nondescript points at the roadside, but out of nowhere, there would be a sudden flurry of activity as one tiny car skids to a halt in front of a crowd of 60-odd bystanders and it’s a first come first serve game of how many Kenyans can you fit into a Nissan Micra. They drive away, a few minutes later, another, and another… to me, a totally bizarre system of strangers jumping into vehicles with more strangers and somehow making it to their destination, but the fact is, they all know exactly what they’re doing and how to go about it.
If you dropped me in the middle of this and told me to find my way to the nearest supermarket I’d start the journey in the style of an ant who’s just walked into an unexpected blob of ice cream in his path and I’d end it several hours later in exactly the same spot, but standing completely still, eyes squeezed shut and shoulders hunched, holding a teabag, an earplug and a length of rope… I’m not quite sure how that happened either.
I had plenty of time to observe the goings on of the city streets, because I sat alone in the back of a minibus for approximately two hours – about 1 ½ hours of that was spent on the approach to just the one same central junction. I was okay with this, it gave me time to observe the rush hour dance.
Once out of the city, the roads opened up and my apologetic, but otherwise quiet driver (everybody is ready to apologise to me for something here) coasted through vast expanses of beautiful, lush, green countryside for what could have been anything from 10 minutes to 10 hours. I had no idea, I was captivated. Eventually turning off the main dirt road, to a smaller dirt road, through a river where young women were laughing and washing their clothes – they stopped to smile and wave as we passed them by – into a mostly wooded area, up a slightly smaller, steeper and more winding dirt road, through the trees and arrived at a locked security gate blocking our path.
Confused? Try Part 1 First!
Want to continue this journey with me? Go ahead and read Part 8!