Welcome to Kenya. We walked off the airplane in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and were immediately greeted by our social sponsors, R & L, a spunky American-French couple well into their 60’s who met in Senegal, toured East Africa in the 80s by motorcycle, lived as dairy farmers in Minnesota for 10 years, and recently returned here in search of new adventures. Even better, they brought along an expediter from the Embassy. S spent some time transiting through JKIA, which looks and feels like a crowded third-world bus terminal on a hot day, on her way to Arusha last summer, and as we sped through with our shiny new dip passports, she relived the dreadful memories of long hours spent among its mayhem.
Unfortunately, we only ended up back-loading our wait. With extended families meeting loved ones and pushing several large carts each, there was little room to navigate baggage claim. There was one conveyor belt, which snaked through the entire lounge, stopping sporadically as luggage piled up and spilled off the belt. Whenever the belt stopped, a few airport workers would climb up and toss suitcases indiscriminately off to either side to clear up the logjam and the belt would start creeping along again. Efficient the system was not. Functional? Marginally so. Luck was certainly on our side because it took only 45 minutes or so to retrieve our checked bags. And thankfully, we flew in late enough that it only took us half an hour to reach our new home. With Nairobi’s infamous traffic, it took R & L over two hours to cover the same route a few hours earlier. The joys we have to look forward to once we start driving (and on the left side of the road to boot).