Friday 6 February 2009

Day 1

As I mentioned earlier, in preparation for our grand tour, we had contacted a number of Dad’s friends and colleagues. A result of these communications was that a driver was holding a board with our names on it as we walked through Arrivals at Jomo Kenyatta International. His name was Francis, and he knew how to spell my name. He chatted as he drove us for an hour and a half to our guesthouse, but you’ll have to ask Alex what about because I’d passed out again.

The guesthouse he took us to (Refreshing Spring Guesthouse) is run by a lady called Jane. She had organised the accommodation for Dad when he’d been here on business with the UN, whose complex is right nearby. She was waiting for us as we came into the drive, with its swept pavings and clipped hedges, and she greeted us with a warm smile. We hadn’t confirmed how long we were staying for, or discussed the activities we hoped to arrange with her, she suggested we do all this once we’d had a shower and maybe some breakfast. I wanted to hug her.

As we put down our bags and unpacked some of our things, I had never wanted to crawl into bed and let the day disappear so badly. But I know the rules: you run with the day from the moment you land. So, we had a full day to get through before we were allowed to go to bed. But it’s amazing how a shower, some breakfast (mango, papaya (looks like mango, tastes like feet), sausage, eggs and yoghurt), coffee and a fag can revive you. Soon, Francis was back and we headed off to Nairobi National Museum.

We established a great rapport with Francis and he punctuated our conversation with his big, heavy laugh. He dropped us off outside the museum and agreed to meet us a couple of hours later. We began with an iced coffee in one of the outside restaurants, getting used to the sun and the heat, the sounds and the smells. It reminded me of India, in the way that hot countries always remind me of India. But there wasn’t the same sense of chaos and overcrowding. Things seemed ordered, organised, structured. Inside the museum, we inspected the ancient human-ish fossils, the remnants of the beginnings of mankind. Africa’s pride at having hosted our birth was tangible, and as well as the halogen lamps, there was a certain magic illuminating the various bones and fossils.

When we got back to the guesthouse, Jane had prepared one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had. Steak, potatoes, fresh vegetables and an enormous salad followed by apple crumble and ice cream. To say that it hit the spot would be to say that the Eiffel Tower is quite tall. And then, oh joy, oh happiness, we went to sweet, delicious bed.

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