Today the Journey Begins

5 a.m., February 20 

In about 24 hours I will arrive in Nairobi. This morning I will put together the last of my things. I have two large roll-on duffel bags, one medium-sized duffel bag, a wheeled carry-on bag and my backpack. All of my clothes are wrapped around the various fragile items.  In the carry-on I bring all the valuables – my laptop, satellite phone, camera and medicines. When I return to the U.S. in a month, I will be down to just one large roll-on duffel bag with the other two duffels nestled inside, empty. 

Someone told me that people in the U.S. would find the journey fascinating, so here it is: my husband, Doug, drives me to the Albany Airport (1 ½ hours) where I pick up my rental car.  I drive 4 hours to Newark and shuffle my bags from rental car to mono-rail to British Airways check-in desk.  Then spend 2 hours of final e-mails, writing notes in my journal.  At 6:50 p.m., we depart for London, arriving 7 hours later at 6:45 a.m., UK time.  After some last minute shopping and breakfast at the British Airways Terminal 5 lounge, I leave at 10:05 a.m. on the 8 1/2 hour flight to Nairobi. 

I love this leg of the journey – traveling from the heart of London, over the Alps, and down the long, dry side of the continent of Africa. I will never forget the time I had the opportunity to share this journey with a special seatmate, Richard Leakey, who looked upon this dramatic dry land with such fondness.  

I arrive in the dark – 9:35 p.m. at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi.  If I’m lucky I will be one of the first in line to purchase my Kenyan visa and then it is the hustle and bustle of weary travelers scrambling for luggage.  The bags are x-rayed before they are put on the carousel and, thanks to a tip from an old friend in the safari business, I know to look for the chalk marks that alert the customs agents.  It’s an old habit, as I imagine this has changed in light of new security rules at airports, but I still bring a wet cloth from the plane to wipe the chalk marks clean.  I have never been stopped by the customs agents, no matter how outrageous the items in my bags might be. 

When you exit the customs area you are greeted by a sea of black faces and big smiles.  Almost everyone is holding signs – names, safari companies, NGOs, grand causes.  I will be looking for just one face, just one big smile.  I will be looking for Kura.   And he will say, “Are you well, Mama Rungu?”  And I will reply, “Yes, Kura, I am well enough.”

About Mama Rungu

Founder and CEO The Boma Project
This entry was posted in Africa, African climate change, African drought, African women, Climate change refugees, Economic empowerment, Empower African women, Kathleen Colson, Laisamis, Northern Kenya, REAP (Rural Entrepreneur Access Project), Rural Entrepreneur Access Project (REAP), Solar Lights, Solar Powered Lights, The BOMA Fund. Bookmark the permalink.

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