Kenya Diaries Part I - Berlin To Nairobi
DECEMBER 18: FLIGHT TO AMSTERDAM
There is a large Dutch-speaking group behind me. It is around 7:30pm, cabin lights are dimmed, but for some reason on an elsewise silent flight this group feels the need to speak over the engines. Which is to say, loudly. My theory is that the same people who lack indoor voices also hang about territorially in front of the gates even though we all have assigned seating. There are some things that will forever remain unexplained.
OK, baggage finally arrived and I made it to my airbnb in Amsterdam without any trouble BUT the entertainment begins from there. After arriving at Lelylaan Station and texting my host that I would be there in about 10 minutes, I dropped my phone in the rush to make the tram. I jammed it back together and thought nothing of it.
I get to the airbnb and the host gives me the keys and shows me around. It's a small garden cabin in the courtyard, very cute, personal kitchen and bathroom. I close the door and was contemplating going on skype to chat with Jacey when I realize that in order to do that I would first need a computer. I hadn't even planned on bringing my laptop with me in the first place, so I'm not sure how I got it into my mind that I was going to be skyping this evening. Whatever. I take out my phone to text Jacey that I wouldn't be online and then I realize that my screen doesn't work. Shit. It must have got damaged when I dropped it by the tram.
My phone is sort of an imitation hybrid crapola unsmart phone. It has a keypad and a touchscreen, but inconceivably you can't get to things like messaging or recent calls unless you use the touchscreen.
About now I realize that I don't have a way to wake up for my early flight the next morning unless I can access my alarm clock. Thoughts flash through my mind of possible solutions but the only one seems to be 'stay up all night until you have to leave' which has all kinds of disaster stamped on it.
I decide to go ask my host if he had a spare alarm clock. I look for the keys to get into the main house, but can't find them. I have been in my cabin for less than 5 minutes and have managed to lose my keys? I rip apart my purse, jacket pockets, and all the bedding, searching for the keys. Well, whatever, I will just go out and knock until he hears me. And that is when I discover that I am locked in.
I am locked in a cabin with no text messaging, no computer, and no alarm clock. I have just discovered what hell looks like for the modern human. Panic sets in. I examine the windows for possible egress.
Then I remember that I can still use my keypad to dial the host's phone number and everything de-escalates from there.
The keys: I left them in the door outside. Smart! The host saves me and finds both a spare alarm clock AND computer but he isn't really charmed by my addle-headedness and seems a bit concerned that I will burn the place down or accidentally drown in the toilet.
After I get into bed I hit my phone on the floor in frustration and the touch screen starts working again.
DECEMBER 19: KLM BAGGAGE DROP
I am flying Sky Priority PREMIUM ELITE! WTF? Jed's parents booked this flight using their miles, I suppose, and this means no waiting. I jump to the front of the baggage drop off with a slight flounce in my step.
I've just been told the way to the KLM Lounge. NO WAITING WITH THE PLEBS!
I am in the lounge. There are free drinks - coffee, juice, fully stocked bar!, a full on buffet breakfast, cozy chairs and free wifi. I am so meant to be a part of the upper echelons of society.
The lounge is large and there are lots of people here which makes it feel slightly less exclusive but on the other hand no one is acting like an impaired baboon so KLM must have a rigorous selection process. OMG they have mini stroopwafels here. This is quite thrilling.
It struck me while I was walking to the gate that I hadn't been through security yet. I thought maybe because of my super sky premium elite status that I had somehow avoided having to go through security, but when I got to E24 I noticed they have security at the gates. I skipped to the front of the enormous line thanks to my PREMIUM ELITE status, but then I felt bad because everyone in line was black and I was white.
When checking in, I had the option of upgrading for free to Economy Comfort, so I'm now sitting 2 rows from business class with boatloads of extra legroom. I'm on my way...
Just checked out the entertainment offerings. Funny, in the 'destinations' channel, alongside Hong Kong, Curacao & Miami is.... Alberta?? Not one but TWO promotional videos about AB. How did this happen? The first was a slow-mo nature promo that made me miss the wild beauty of the plains and forests. The second was about Calgary. It actually succeeded in making me think about living in Calgary and Edmonton again...
Depressing side note: Why do airplane bathrooms have the power to make you feel so INCREDIBLY UGLY? The lighting is AWFUL. My pores look like volcano craters.
Getting ready to land in 15 mins. At some point this afternoon I looked across the seats out the window and thought we were flying over cloudy skies. Then my eyes adjusted to the contrast and I realized we were flying over THE SAHARA.
I've arrived safely. Greg and MIndy hired a 'protocol' officer to guide me from the gate through immigration and customs. He walked a swift pace through the airport which is surprisingly modern. I was skipped straight into the 'personnel' lineup at customs and because of my PREMIUM ELITE status, my bag was nearly the first one off the belt! In less than 15 mins after landing I was driving through Nairobi with Jed and Greg and Harrison, the driver.
There are people everywhere along the streets, waiting for "matatus" (the informal taxi/bus service) or crossing the street. There was so much traffic - the President was giving a speech earlier and traffic was still tied up due to closed off roads. There are a lot of potholes. Everyone is on a cellphone. We noticed a banner advertising over 350 goats to be won over Christmas from one of the local stores. This is exciting.