Nairobi…it’s definitely not my favorite destination, but our monthly trip here is essential. Our home away from home is a cute little cottage we rent in Karen, a suburb of the city. We have an ancient Suzuki to use here; the gauges don’t work, the glove compartment pops open randomly, and it rattles like a tin can, but I’ve learned to love it!
On every Nairobi trip, we have a pretty similar agenda…
Priority 1: Get to the mechanic. By driving off-road, through creek crossings, and through endless potholes, we definitely do a number on our vehicles. If car repairs don’t get done, wheels fall off, brakes go bad, and other scary things happen - it's not a risk I'm willing to run! While we do our best to take care of the vehicles in the bush, they always need some serious work when we come to town.
Priority 2: Hit up the bank account. There are definitely no ATMs in the Mara, and we have to pay for everything there in cash. Running out of money at camp is a total disaster; it means no money for food, salaries, or emergency car repairs. Every time we come to Nairobi, we take out enough Kenyan shillings to last us at least a month, and then guard that huge stack of bills with our lives!
Priority 3: Deal with whatever government documents that are pending. Whether it’s a research permit at the Ministry of Science, an export license from Kenya Wildlife Service, or a student visa through the Immigration Department, it’s going to take forever. Get in line, bring a book, and be prepared to wait. Inevitably, by the time you reach the front of the line, you're informed that you've forgotten something vital, or you need someone’s signature from across town. Be prepared to try again tomorrow.
Priority 4: Shop ‘til you drop. There’s always a long list of things to buy, from groceries and office supplies to liquid nitrogen and new tires. Since we’re still in the process of setting up the new camp in the Conservancy, there’s a LOT on our shopping list.
Priority 5: If there’s any time left, we indulge whatever cravings we've had while living in a tent for the last month. For some, that’s a frosty milkshake and a juicy burger, for others, it’s a big night out on the town, and for still others, it’s spending hours catching up on Facebook and celebrity gossip online.
Once it's all done, we can head back to camp and see what our hyenas have been up to. Barring any disasters, I'll return to the Mara tomorrow, and I'm already excited to catch up with my furry friends!