Monday, January 4, 2010

[Mayank] We have touchdown

Jambo! I am the first of the group to arrive in Nairobi: an eager visitor with visa in hand, shillings in my pocket, a Jambo hat purchased duty-free at Nairobi airport ("hide it in your bag, otherwise I will spend a night in the cell" said the salesman, citing the fact that arriving visitors shouldn't be shopping duty free), and somewhat bleary-eyed after being herded in a tiny waiting area at Doha airport at 5 a.m. But flying over Yemen's rocky landscape was stunning, and it's my first time south of the equator!

Over the next three weeks, we will be working with biologists in the middle of the Mpala ranch, but for now, I have a day to spend in Nairobi. My immediate impression is that it's almost effortlessly green everywhere, although this is probably because of the rain. Traffic moves along quickly into town until we hit congestion, and stop for twenty minutes. To my disappointment, traffic vendors walk past and don't try to sell me anything, possibly because I was sitting in a beaten up relic, surrounded in traffic by shiny and expensive late-model Toyotas.

The hotel is located in a commercial district opposite the Israeli Embassy. This apparently makes it one of the safest places in Nairobi, but there isn't much to do or see. It was with some difficulty that I managed to find a piping hot beef samosa and a cold Sprite for 80 shillings (about $1).

Tomorrow, I'm off to meet the rest of the group at the Duduville guest house at ICIPE.

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