December 31, 2008 – January 2, 2009
Getting back to Nairobi
After Arusha we rushed back up to Nairobi – we were scheduled to have our next flight from there on January 1st. We figured it would be prudent to arrive in Nairobi a day earlier, plus it would be more fun to spend the new year back with our new friends, Carole and Nancy.
We paid a little extra for a special from Arusha to Nairobi, a shuttle which (we heard) would get us to Nairobi in only 5-6 hours, easily in time for the night’s celebrations. The ride started out relatively smooth (or, as smooth as the beaten-up roads would allow). But when we reached the city the shuttle suddenly pulled over to the median. We saw another shuttle there, a shuttle from the same company, nearly tipped over in the ditch. All the passengers from the other shuttle transferred over to our shuttle – it became very snug. We tried to ask what exactly happened but all the passengers were francophones who didn’t speak much English, so it was hard to tell if we got the story right. It sounded like the other shuttle actually hit a pedestrian, then swerved into the ditch. Before dropping off any of the passengers the driver stopped at a nearby hospital where, presumably, the injured pedestrian was being treated. The bus driver got into some kind of argument with a bunch of other people in the hospital parking lot, perhaps over who would front the money for the treatment. Those people got pretty pissed off and for a while they blocked our path such that we couldn’t leave the hospital lot. Eventually they let us go.
New Year’s with Carole, Nancy, and Simon
We finally reached Carole and Nancy’s place around 9:30 PM. Simon was there too; he’d spent most of the last few weeks studying Swahili with Nancy. We brought along some pizza – our little contribution for the evening’s celebrations. It was a pretty low key evening, but it was fun. We watched the festivities from around the world; Sydney had huge fireworks; New York was freezing cold. Close to midnight Simon and I decided we wanted something a little more upbeat so we walked to the nearest bar and ordered some beer. Right around midnight we saw this happy drunk guy walk in leading a couple of goats; I can only assume that they were being prepped for a feast the next day. It was a funny scene:
Flight to Ethiopia? Not So Fast!
On January 1st we headed to the airport for our 9:50 PM flight to Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). When we reached the airport, we were surprised to learn that Kenya Air had no flight to Addis that night. Say what? Apparently they changed their flight schedule at some point since we booked our round-the-world ticket, several months ago, and nobody bothered to tell us. Luckily, Kenya Air had another flight the next morning, so we didn’t have to wait too long. And as a bonus, they put us up in a 5-star hotel called Penari near the airport, and they gave us a free dinner and two free international phone calls. What a sweet hotel! It was definitely the best shower we had since the beginning of the trip. 🙂
Around the World
In Bangkok there was a fire in a popular night club, Santika, the night of new year’s eve. At least 61 people were killed. The fire was likely caused by some pirotechnics, but the real issue was that it spread too quickly and people were not able to escape.