The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
― Maya Angelou
It has been a couple of years since I jetted out of my country heading to the land of milk and honey in hopes of receiving my share. Even though I was skeptical of the said “milk and honey”, nevertheless, I made the maiden trip and for the last couple of years it was my home. I made lots of friends and enemies alike, learned a lot, and in many different ways, it made me the person I am today. A lot can be said of the greatest country on earth as they call it both good and bad, but that is a story for another day. For now, I will share my experience of coming back home after been away for some time.
I jetted back in Kenya on a Saturday afternoon, and from above in the sky I could tell I was in for a shock. Changes were visible from 3000 feet above the ground. When the plane touched down, there was a transit bus waiting to transport us to the terminal so we could check in and collect our luggage. When I arrived inside the terminal, I had to go through immigration, where my passport was stamped. As the process was going on, you could see some improvement on the way they verified passport as they took everyone’s fingerprints. After that, we collected our luggage and there was a customs official waiting to check for counterfeit and items that needed to be taxed. All in all, the whole process was efficient and quick, which before I left was not the norm.
I walked out of the airport and everything looked different: the sky was clear and the sun was scorching hot; there was a multitude of people waiting for their loved ones, traffic was orderly as there was airport security on every corner of the vicinity, driving out of the airport there was a gate where we had to pay, which was not there when I left. As we approached Mombasa Road, I got lost because they had constructed new roads and it looked totally different. For some reason, you would think every person in Kenya drives due to the number of cars on the roads. Driving from airport to town took me almost four hours because the traffic is out of this world. You can literally be in the same spot for almost ten minutes without moving an inch, and don’t forget the bodabodas that don’t seem to follow the same rules as other road users. They drive all over the place, they don’t seem to have the wrong side, and don’t observe any road rules.
When I was about to approach the CBD, they there were cameras flickering all over the road. At some point, I started posing for the cameras, hoping that someone monitoring them wouldn’t have to just stare at ugly faces all day. But on the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised if all they do is flicker and nobody ever actually watches them at all, but that’s up for debate. There were also traffic lights in all the intersections, but no one followed them, even the traffic officers who controlled traffic. I found myself wondering why they installed them in the first place, because it must have cost an arm and a leg, and they don’t even look good.
That evening, some family members and I went out to eat dinner, and the amount we ended up paying would almost cover my month’s rent back in the U.S., and considering I live in a decent place, you can just imagine. But surprisingly, I was the only one who was shocked by the bill, and I was left wondering to myself, are these same family members who during most of my phone calls with them when I was back in the States ended crying about how broke they were? Things are extremely expensive, considering it’s Kenya. For example, a burger costs around $8, which is almost the same price of a burger in the USA.
So that was my experience in the city the first day I landed. Stay tuned, because I will share my experiences about shags or upcountry in my next blog.
WISHING EVERYONE HAPPY HOLIDAYS