Travelling to Africa

January 1, 2022

Happy new year again everyone!

We awoke New Year’s Day to no snow due to overnight sprinkles and it wasn’t that cold. Fran worked with Josh on updating his new second hand fridge and we had yet another quiet “COVID times” day staying safe.

While we did this, Josh also worked on brewing a batch of beer in his garage using his new grain mill.

Sunday we awoke to snow falling and it was beautiful.

It was a laundry and packing day.  We also went for our PCR tests in Mississauga and expect results within 36 hours.  We managed to get everything into our two large duffel bags, two roller boards and two back packs.   We looked online for our test results the next morning and got them – both negative – okay, that hurdled has been jumped.

We spent that last morning with Josh doing last minute things and then left to drive to Buffalo around noon stopping for breakfast along the way. As we are headed into malaria territory we have begun taking pills today.  Normally you need to get these from a travel clinic or your doctor; Doug asked Josh to ask his doctor for a script and we paid him for them – we got 12 days’ worth and we’ll get more in Nairobi.

After crossing the border, we had a few Amazon returns to attend to, we had to wash the car and fill the tank before dropping it off to be stored again.  We took an Uber to the airport and got there in plenty of time for our 7:35 PM flight to JFK.  We found a bar/restaurant and sat for two hours enjoying a couple of beers and some dinner while we went through our mail that we received.  The flight was more or less on time and all our luggage made it to New York.

We spent the night at an airport hotel after a ridiculous snafu with the Uber driver to get us there.  We landed at 9:15 but didn’t get to the hotel until 11 – it was ridiculous.  Neither of us slept well and we were up around 7:30 on Tuesday.  Before leaving the hotel, we mailed our T-Mobile sim card back to our friend in Denver.  We are very appreciated of making that arrangement with him for his spare SIM.

We had repacked our bags a bit so that our roller boards were not so heavy (Kenya Airways gives you two free checked bags each unlike JetBlue where we had to pay for each checked bag); we now have a smaller duffel bag packed as well.  We were able to check in online and get seats and made our way by Uber (with no issues) to JFK.

At the baggage drop off, we had to show:

  • our passports
  • negative PCR results
  • our visas and
  • proof of our flight out of Kenya

Our flight to Nairobi was a direct 13 and a half hour flight – we felt a long direct flight was better than spending any more time in airports than we had to.

There’s a RHINO on our plane!

The flight left about 40 minutes late and despite large time periods of mild turbulence (making it hard to try and sleep) it went well.  It was not a full flight and everyone seemed to abide by masking rules (except when eating) as required.

KENYA! 

Kenyan Shilling (KES) to USD – .0088 cents; to CDN $.011

Gas price:  129.75 KES per litre – about $4.35 a gallon

Beer: Tusker lager

We landed in Nairobi at about 11:30 (fifteen minutes late) and after going through a temp screening, downloading a COVID screening app and finally immigration, our found our luggage all safe arrived and met our the gentlemen from the rental car company who had brought us the vehicle: a Rav4 4×4.

We were a little surprised to discover that the car was automatic and to discover it was right hand drive; of course, Kenya is a commonwealth country so they drive on the left! Doh!

John drove us to a bank to get some Kenyan shillings and then we dropped him off to catch a bus back to his office.  Enroute John pointed out the Nairobi National Park and we saw two giraffes, a large stork like bird and a water buffalo – within minutes of the airport – a nice welcome to the “magical Kenya”.

The temperature is about 24C / 75F and it’s relatively dry.  Nairobi is at about 1800m / 6000’ – as we drive eastward toward the coast in a few days, we expect humidity levels to rise.  No rain is expected for the next week.  Rainy season ended last month so we are lucky in the timing of our visit.

We found our AirBNB which we’d booked in the Karen suburb of the city (we didn’t want or need to be downtown).  Elisha met us at the gate and let us in.  At Karen Hardy Executive homestay, we have a sort of suite off attached to the main house in which we have a bedroom, bathroom, living room and full kitchen.

Elisha was still cleaning the place and we had some errands to run so after removing our bags from the car, we went to a local mall.  Here we wanted to get something to drink and eat for lunch and opted to treat ourselves and just get dessert:

We then went into the mall to the Safari.com cellular shop and got set up with local sim cards. Took like ten minutes and we each had one; cost $28 for 20 GB for a month.  We’re only here for two weeks but that’s plenty.  We hope to get places to stay with wifi throughout this time, so we should be good.

There was a pharmacy in the mall so we got more malaria pills.  Next it was grocery shopping at the Carrefour – we looked for a Styrofoam cooler but they only had hard sided ones so we’ll have to look elsewhere.  We returned to our accommodation and Elisha showed us around and we got settled in.  We will be coming back here after our ten days of self-drive safari so we arranged with the owner to store our bags while we’re gone.  We spent some time packing what we need for that time and finding things we need for the next couple of days, repacking the duffels and roller boards and then enjoyed a happy hour beer outside on the terrace.

We were quite surprised how wide awake we felt but then we’ve been on the go since we landed.  We had a light dinner and watched one show before feeling sleepy around 9.  We hope to sleep enough to wake up after the sun rises tomorrow.

We were up around 7 and Doug went for a run.  Our suite has a washing machine so Fran thought she’d do some laundry to get caught up (and get the last of our winter clothes washed so we could tuck them away).  Recalling how long the machines in Latin America took, she wanted to get this started early so they’d have time to drive during the day.  Turns out it only took about 40 minutes so they have plenty of time to dry on the drying rack provided out in the sun.

Doug reached out to the owner asking about where to buy a Styrofoam cooler and he offered to lend us a hard sided one since we are coming back here on the 16th.  How generous.  That solves a problem for us.

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