Jason, Sarah and I sat shoulder-to-shoulder on the 126 bus to the Bomas of Kenya. Packed like sardines, we watched in horror as the bus lurched out of the station, nearly knocking over the hoardes of pedestrians who passed by. The bus ride itself was reminiscent of a ‘mexican massage’ I received in Cozumel not too long ago – plenty of potholes to keep us on the edge of our seats! At our destination, we had to fight to get off the bus. But as soon as we had arrived, we knew we had come to the right place. Immediately the air was fresher. The grass was greener. And we saw a pair of warthogs… our first wildlife, what a bonus!
We arrived a good time before the main festivities were about to begin. With my UofT student card, I managed to convince the ticket officer that we were all students, and he gave us half price tickets. Then we took a tour of some traditional African tribal homesteads or “bomas”. Now I finally know what ‘Boma’ means! We saw Kikuyu, Masaai, and a whole slew of others that I cannot remember for the life of me. But the main attraction was the dancing. We sat in a huge auditorium in the style of an African lodge. The beat of African drums started up and the dancers poured out in their amazing costumes.
It was completely surreal. It is one thing to view these tribal dances on exhibition at Walt Disney World or in a convention centre. But to know that you are in Nairobi, listening to the drums and watching the acrobatic dancing twirl all around you… it is quite something, and I truly recommend it to anyone looking for an out of this world experience. Yes, Nairobi is a dirty, busy, dangerous city. And yes, you can’t spend forever here. But if you are passing through, it would be a great shame to miss out on Kenya in miniature.
To celebrate the first night of our 9-month adventure, we went out to Carnivore: one of the top 50 restaurants in the world. The name speaks for itself. Meat of all kinds is caved at the table, and as long as our white flag is still flying, the food is brought all night. Apart from the traditional selection of steak, pork and chicken, there was turkey, lamb and ostrich. No crocodile unfortunately… although we tried very hard to convince our waiter to bring us some! It was delicious and filling. Well satiated, we taxied back to the hostel and settled in for the night. What we didn’t expect on the drive home was to see a body in the middle of the road. A young woman had been hit by a car as she tried to jay walk across the road. In a coarse way, it is hardly surprising. The road rules are non-existent, the driving erratic and the pedestrians are bold. It was a harsh reminder to us to be careful and vigilant at all times. It is especially comforting to be in a group of three. We have each other’s backs. We are watching out for one another. And we will make sure we look both ways.
Tonight we will board our 14 hr train to Mombasa. We have sleeper cabins booked, albeit 2nd class, but we get dinner and breakfast served. Our bags are with us in the internet cafe, and we try our best to ignore the strange looks we get as we wander the streets of Nairobi fully geared up. Monday morning brings the true spirit of Nairobi to life… if we thought Sunday afternoon was bad, we had another thing coming! We will try our best to spend the next few hours as discreetly as we can. Our plans in Mombasa will hopefully take us further north along the coast to Lamu. I will let you know. For now, it’s back to the streets!