I caught the plane flying to the capital of Kenya ten days before the moment when all flights to Nairobi airport were canceled due to a series of terrorist attacks. So all the thrills I experience failed. But I had to face many other phenomena and moments, let's say, at the same time awakening the imagination and making us glad that you are not living in this beautiful country.
“Karibu” in Swahili means hospitable, “Jambo” is welcome. But it's not so easy to welcome hospitable Kenya - visas are issued only by those countries that have Kenyan embassies or consulates. Citizens of our state of the visa in the presence of the serious reasons and the documents certifying it, are put in the passport directly at the airport of Nairobi.
In order to obtain a visa, I had to make a costly vaccination against yellow fever, which is mandatory for many African countries. It would still be desirable to undergo a course of prophylaxis for malaria, but I did not expect that in four days I would be able to visit any dangerously attractive places. Even mosquito repellents are not taken. And rightly so, the funds from our home-grown mosquitoes are not decreed by their African relatives.
I flew to Kenya at the invitation of a famous world women's organization. Annual "reporting" meetings are held in it every summer, usually in some European city. But this year, it was decided to hold an annual rally in Nairobi in order to support the morally and financially African ladies who only joined the federation in the 1990s and were involved in their former dominions of France, England and Holland. The gathering of more than a hundred guests made it possible for local members of the federation engaged in the tourism, hotel business or art crafts and handicrafts to make a good profit.
There were no surprises with a visa at the Kenyan airport. I prepared all the papers and, following the advice of experienced people, was dressed in all gray and insane-bomzhevatovenkoe, which was not at all difficult after the 13-hour flight. She looked honestly into the eyes of the customs officer and without any friendly smiles there. But she seemed to be sneezing on my passport, and on the yellow fever certificate, and on my personal photos, and on my appearance. Fifty dollars for a visa - and the stamp plops onto a clean page.
Another delay was caused by filling out a health questionnaire. In connection with the ASP epidemic, at many airports, arrivals were forced to fill out special forms: temperature, the presence of rhinitis, cough, etc., in one column, and upon departure - fill in the second column, respectively. To show that nothing new during their stay was picked up. And in general, that you are still alive.
In May, winter was in Kenya and the rainy season began. After half an hour of waiting, I and four other participants of the conference who arrived on this flight were dirty and wet, and, sitting down in the wreck, finally sent from the hotel after us, tried to chide after the rain and the driver’s delay.
But we immediately realized that the rain in Africa is blessed, as it is very rare. And about the fact that "faster" - so with this concept is not familiar here at all. "Akuna Matata" - "Never mind, do not twitch" - this is an approximate translation of the most popular expression here. I soon realized that you could not live here without the “matte mat”.
The five-star Safari Park Hotel, in which the participants lived, was located in the most famous Nairobi national park.
In tourist avenues it is called the Kenyan paradise. The hotel consisted of numerous bungalows, built in traditional African style, but with all imaginable amenities. And extra exotic, included in the room rate. So, I often took a shower in a company with a pretty lizard with bulging eyes looking at me from the wall. I never figured out what sex it is.
Other participants of the conference were not less lucky - they found very large snails on the beds or on the telephone. It was impossible to drive them away - it was believed that the snails bring happiness (like we have spiders). Therefore, the sheets with the snail harvest were carefully handed to the maids, and they preferred not to touch the telephone at all.
Once I woke up with a huge red spot on the bridge of my nose and in horror asked the Croat Cherry, my neighbor by the number, what she thinks about this. Cherry, a very calm and balanced lady, calmly said that most likely I have food allergies, and this is not surprising, since almost every day we tasted some exotic things like a camel, zebra, gazelle, etc.
Not to mention the fruit: the most outlandish for me was a mini-watermelon the size of a grape, just as green on the outside as well as on the inside. But the taste - watermelon watermelon. So allergies would be understandable, but I was afraid of the worst.
In the middle of the day, I ran into Cherry at one of the endless coffee breaks. “Now you no longer look like an African princess,” she said calmly, looking at my forehead. The redness passed, as if it had never existed. Probably something crawled across my face at night ...
In the park of the hotel we lived as in a kind of luxury reservation: hearty, luxurious and calm. "The lights of the big city" Nairobi shone somewhere far away. And thank God. Although in the reference books the word “Nairobi” is presented as a “green city under the sun” and one of the most economically developed and fastest growing on the black continent, it was not recommended to go to the city even during the day without accompanying locals. Poverty in the country is terrible, and word of mouth broadcast horror stories about cut fingers with rings and ears with earrings from mouth to mouth.
One participant ventured to visit the center of the capital, accompanied by a local lady-organizer. She drove those who flew away like flies, beggars and thieves and advised to wear a handbag ... on the stomach under the skirt. And it’s not too close to the walls of the houses: out of the windows were hands protruding, trying to grab glasses, beads, a comb — everything that lies badly (in this context, hangs).
There are practically no tall houses in the city. The tallest building is the 16-storey hotel. The architecture is mainly represented by single-storey houses, rather shacks, with numbers or inscriptions. The inscription is most often scratched with a nail over the gland. If it is a shop, it says: “Mom” or “Bwana”, depending on who owns it, a woman or a man. By the way, “mom” and “bwana” are an appeal to respected people, others are addressed simply by name.
But the rest of Africa in the winter, and even in the rainy season, is indeed green and beautiful. Therefore, numerous announced tours, despite the over-high prices, gathered a lot of people. Still, not everyone will come to Africa at their own expense, and if by the grace of God (and the women's movement) you are here at their expense, it’s simply a sin not to take the opportunity to visit, for example, Rift Valley Park and Nakuru Lake and Naivasha Lake. The elephants in this tour were not promised to us, they are found in the southern part of the country, but rhinoceros, buffaloes, gazelles and other tropical animals are in large numbers.
Early in the morning, grief from impatience, hung with backpacks of water, tablets and photo equipment, ten participants in photo safari danced impatiently in anticipation of the car and the driver. Cherry and I were especially in a hurry - knowing the African pace, we risked not having time for the evening flight to Amsterdam. The others would like to go to the ball by six in the evening on the occasion of the opening of the new women's club in Nairobi.
And, as it turned out, we were all worried for a reason. The local mistress of the travel agency, who was in charge of everything, could not be found during the day with the fire - on the eve she was given a heat almost late due to the sluggishness of the staff on her plane Bulgarian, and a couple of Norwegian women had their own claims to her. A car with a driver appeared three hours after the announced hour. All the other ladies, gathered on a three-day safari in Bombasa, to the coast of the Indian Ocean, and flying by helicopters to Eldoret, and even deciding to limit themselves to visiting the city park and the railway museum, set off even later.
“Akuna Matata! - cheerfully exclaimed our driver. - My name is Fred. Everything will be fine! ”Fred was a dandy, and under his merry chatter in a lively English we set off. The reserve was located two hours away from the hotel.
On the way, Fred strove to stop the jeep at every stall selling local, almost everywhere identical, souvenirs: elephants, black and ebony giraffes (black, however, said that all the items were fakes painted with special paint) , Masai checkered blankets, mats and bright shawls made of satin-like fabric with Kenyan coffee bags.
My neighbors - photo-huntress - could not resist and staged a mad bargain to the great pleasure of the sellers and the driver who received their commission. Elephants, blankets and jewelry were bought up in large quantities, after which, happy and relaxed, we drove on.
When I saw the inscription on the gates of the reserve, I almost fainted. The cost of the ticket allowing entry to transport and photographing animals was five times lower than the one I paid to the black mistress of a local travel agency. Even if we add on the car and Fred, we could definitely save about three times, if we did without intermediaries. Other ladies from more prosperous countries just sighed: "Akuna Matata."
We raised the top - it was forbidden to get out of the car in the reserve, and from the embrasure formed, you could look at the beauties of nature and animals and photograph them. While Fred, who strictly ordered all windows to be closed, bought tickets, we were cheekily attacked by baboons of all sizes, from XS to XXL. “Baba, oh, what a wonderful woman,” - the ladies were touched and clicked together cameras.
The wonderful woman sitting directly on the side-view mirror stretched one paw to the camera, the other to the points from the nearest passenger - the passenger did not follow Fred's order. While we were fighting together for the camera, an angry driver arrived in time. “Who do you want as a chauffeur, Fred or a woman ?!” he asked menacingly. And we rushed to the gate of the reserve. Points as a trophy had to be left to the baboon family. How can you not remember Grandpa Krylov?
And then ... further the beauty of the shroud fascinated so much that we forgot about all the troubles and even the evening departure. The shroud was not yellow, as usual, but emerald green, which can only be seen during the rainy season. Just a few dozen meters, a herd of buffaloes was grazing peacefully, lungs of gazelles jumped, Thompson goats, plucked bushes of black and white zebras with still brown cubs. Lonely a white rhinoceros lay in the thick grass, and after traveling a couple of kilometers, we met him a black relative. There was peace and tranquility, occasionally disturbed by lovers of photo safari. The apotheosis of the trip was Lake Nakuru, which from a distance seemed to be a blue-lilac haze.
As I approached, I realized that this effect was created by hundreds of pink flamingos that fish a kilometer from the coast (in general, there are more than 2 million of these beautiful birds in Africa). The entire shore was littered with skeletons of small fish and pink, sometimes even blood-red, feathers of birds. Here we were allowed to go out, and I collected a whole bunch of pink feathers as souvenirs. In the evening I will rinse them in shampoo and give them to friends. Free and elegant.
Suddenly, it suddenly became dark, and, jumping no worse than a gazelle, our jeep flew out of the park. There was no talk of visiting Lake Naivasha included in the tour price. In Nairobi, Fred fiercely fought with the flow of water and crazy drivers who canceled all traffic rules due to heavy rain. Crowds of townspeople moved knee-deep in water. And Cherry and I realized with horror that it would be an incredible success if we had time for our evening flight.
... For registration, I stood in line last. Moving like a fly in honey, a local employee of the renowned KLM firm, without haste, stuck a label to my suitcase. Accustomed these days to African rates and general non-binding, I asked if he was going to stick the appropriate sticker on my boarding pass so that I could get my luggage in Boryspil. The official, who had already started to doze off, started up, fumbled his hands on the table, but found nothing suitable and found it most successful to rummage around the waste bin next to it. Perhaps there is something similar.
The basket was full of papers and labels, and a few minutes remained until the end of the landing. My advice is to go look for my suitcase on the conveyor and print a new label, caused a real shock: to move, to break away from the familiar place - never! He again violently flipped over a huge basket. “It seems to be yours, madam,” he said hesitantly. It was certainly difficult to determine once, but the weight suited me.
I flew into the cabin, smiling desperately at black and white stewards, and fell into place. To hell with it, with a suitcase, I prudently insured luggage for a thousand bucks, and its contents were not worth a hundred ...
"Akuna Matata" and farewell Africa!