Back to Nairobi.
I booked my flight back to Nairobi the night before I left. A courier from the visa agency met me between my flights to return my passport, complete with Ethiopian and Egyptian visas. It was all very last minute. As would be the next few weeks.
I had spent my time at home after my whirlwind tour of Cape Town, waiting each day to hear back about the visas. My initial application to the Ethiopian Embassy in Pretoria had been turned down due to insufficient proof of funds. The Ethiopian government seems to be very worried about westerners coming to their country to live off the state. Ironic. In the end I ended up getting a priority business visa.
After a little scare at check in (Kenya Air didn’t want to let me onto the plane because I had no return ticket, but eventually accepted my Carnet as proof of onward travel) I was back on the plane to Nairobi and on Kenyan soil late that night. In fact there was less than 48 hours between me getting my visas approved and me waking up at Wildebeest again, where my car was waiting for me, safe and sound.
I must admit; I was a little worried about leaving my car alone in Nairobi, but Wildebeest’s staff all seem to be great guys, and I doubt they’d like it associated with them if my car had been harmed. So after a month away I found my car untouched, filthy, but untouched.
I spent a morning cleaning up my car and putting some new stickers on it, and then I got it going again. The battery hadn’t even gone flat. It took a little starting fluid but she started and ran pretty well.
I hadn’t organised a visa for Sudan in South Africa. All calls to the embassy in Pretoria returned no answer and emails got a delivery failure notice in reply. So I set some time aside to do the visa in Nairobi instead. I used a motorcycle taxi to find the embassy and arrived with all my documents only to find the embassy closed for the Haj pilgrimage. It would be shut until the following week. In a way this was great, as it gave me some down time in Nairobi, a city I hadn’t seen much of before. And my discovery of Boas and Godfrey,both motorcycle taxi drivers, meant that the city was open to me in a way it hadn’t been before. The heavy traffic was no problem for them at all, we’d often cut through Kibera, Africa’s largest urban slum, in order to get into the city. This is not possible in a car. However, it did put mean that all the gap days I had built into my schedule for Northern Kenya and Ethiopia were gone.
At Wildebeest I once again formed part of the “people who are hanging around group” which is always fun. The Chinese girl, Ying, who I met in Botswana had caught me up and we became friends. A very sweet and funny American girl called Jessica joined us, along with a fellow overlander; Callum, who was from Canada. This became my Nairobi Tribe. We would go out to restaurants, to the movies and out and about town. Jessica and I would often go to Art Cafe to “work” but we’d really just drink coffee and talk. I had really come to feel at home in Nairobi. I didn’t mind waiting for the Embassy of Sudan to open up again, I had plenty to do and see while I waited. I even went to Westgate Mall to see a few films.
On the 2nd weekend of my stay in Kenya the largest concours d’elegance in Africa was taking place in Nairobi, and the Alfa Romeo club had organised a pass for my car, and a free ticket for me. I arrived at the Ngong Racetrack (horse racing, of course) to find it packed with vintage cars and motorcycles, and people dressed up for a good day out with the family. It was lovely. The show reminded me of Pietermaritzburg’s old Cars in the Park, which I had always enjoyed attending, but is no more.
There were some very impressive cars on display, and people really seemed to like my car as well. I wondered around the place for the better part of the day, drinking coffee and eating croissants, it was all too lovely. I really didn’t mind hanging around in Kenya. In fact, I could feel the pull of the country and the people. I could see myself living there.
Overall, I was pretty pleased to be back in the land of friendly people and sunshine. Boas and his motorcycle had opened up Nairobi to me and I was enjoying my time at Wildebeest very much. Ian, Rick, Steven, and Justin kept us all pretty happy. The visa limbo continued, but at least I was enjoying my time on the road again.