Jim woke us when the vivid stars were still glittering in the black sky. Next time I bring a telescope. The kids and the luggage sat in the back of the ambulance. We three sat up front, in the two seats. David, the driver, stopped for two additional passengers, and we set out pre-dawn on the washed out, rusty-hued roads. David navigated the mud slide of a road like a monster truck professional.
We passed no one for the first hour, like Africa was beamed up to another planet; there are 40 million people in Kenya, 34 million in Canada–I’ve never seen it so quiet. We watched Olympian hopefuls run alongside the road in the second hour, then huge swaths of runners, and finally, before seven, we saw uniformed children walking to their schools. All the while, we hoped we would make it to the airport, on time. And we did, fifteen minutes before the plane lifted off. The airline staff asked, why are you late? Ha, I am amused. We are in Africa, everyone’s late. Jim did not enjoy telling her that the driver insisted we leave when we did, cause Jim would have had us leaving an hour earlier, and he hates being late. (We arrived before the JetLink staff last time).
Smartly dressed flight attendants offered sodas and peanuts, a welcome reprieve from our empty tummies. As soon as we were up, we were heading down. We were met by a Samaritan’s Purse matatu, with the driver and a cardboard sign, Dr. Dean Wiedrick and family. The driver took us through post rush hour traffic, where we sat for twenty minutes, alongside tiny roadside markets, men selling newspapers car to car, slums of garbage, tents and people….people walking, people talking, people on top of matatus, people hanging on to matatus for dear life. Kenya has a lot of people. Nairobi has ten million of them.
I insisted we head to a Nakumatt to buy groceries, in case we miss a meal at the Guest House. Before entering the mall parking lot, we were greeted by uniformed military personnel, and big ole scary African guns, looking for the al Shabaat (aka the Somali form of al Queda), because they threw grenades into the Mombasa public square yesterday (a few hours south). My first mall security check. We had a quick bite at the African alternative to Starbucks, Java Hut–super yummy latte! And bought a few bags of groceries from the Nakumatt…there is so much selection in Nairobi…then, we were outta there!
Like shooting stars in the African night, the kids are now crashing and Jim is picking up the debris.