Long 15 hour flight—we sit next to a wonderful Indian professor of nano-medicine from San Diego. We're two hours late to Dubai—our connection to Nairobi has already left. We wait in line and are told that we can get on a 11:00 flight. Wait and wait in the airport—get lots of stares—especially my blond son. Men in shieks, veiled women, prayer rooms and calls to prayer. Big and shiny airport, empty—almost spooky. We have a free lunch in the Emirates café, finally get over to counter that opens at 8pm. No one there to help us—wait in line—told flight might be booked, our names are not on list. Meet Lemeca and his wife and sister Carolina and mother Joyce—and little girl Angel--all from Kenyan, some now living in the States. Meet Fara (originally from Kenya,) Bruce, Elizabeth and daughter—all from Alaska. Together, we become the “transits.” The Kenya Air rep never comes back, we are told by an Emirates employee that the flight is overbooked. We wait and wait, finally get sorted out to go to a hotel, stay the night and leave the next morning. 36 hours of traveling. Ah. Eat another free meal at midnight—happy to be with such a great group of people—all with roots in Kenya. I'm frustrated, but as I sit back, listen to the voices of people now connected, revel in the laughter of our situation, I am reminded how life's unexpected turns can make life richer, more memorable. And right away, I'm hit over the head with the idea of flexibility when traveling. No expectations. Remember that if things CAN go wrong, they will~
Next morning easy transit and flight to Nairobi. No problems with bags, customs, visa—Simon and Patrick there to pick us up. Smiling faces reassuring—everything's gonna be just fine! We're here! We made it to Kenya! So happy to be back. Off to the Fairview Hotel. Peaceful, plush place with waterfalls and green gardens. Lovely room. Chat with Patrick and Simon about our plans. Dinner by the pool with gg and nic—pizza, wine and tomato soup. Each bite, each swallow lulls me into a sleep. Dreams to come.
We drive the next morning out of Nairobi—seven hour drive south to Voi. Still crazy busy, traffic, men walking the streets (unemployment levels at 80% now.) The road that runs from Nairobi east to Mombassa has improved since I last made the bumpy, seven hour journey. I notice right away that the summer terrain is greener-more lush, more birds. Many people along the road, their tin shacks set up to sell red onions, tomatoes, mangoes. So many kids dot the path, some just walking, others herding groups of cattle and goats. Grayson enjoys the ones that wave to him as we pass the beautiful red earthen road. We see our first red and black zebra, Grayson asks if he’s real, and then we see the swooshing his tail along the way. He spots a group of 5 more—and the gift of being here strikes me all over again. [Even though we haven’t done too much, Grayson tells me that so far, this trip is 99% out of a 100. J
We meet Simon’s wife-Rhoda, and she radiates with joy, laughter and a vibrance and appreciation. She's so excited to meet us and hear what we’re doing. In the mini van, Patrick, Nic and I talk for hours about our plans, and I think we all see how big the possibilities are for growing a non-profit that not only brings economic and educational opportunities to the community, but that promotes this amazing place and the richness of the people here. We talk of raising money to build a small house in the village to host volunteers, building a website, funding a trip to the US for Patrick to promote this project, and connection with programs for irrigation, water, and medicine. It’s big—and for a second, doubts cloud my thoughts. Can we do it, can I make something happen, something this big and so important? But deep down, there’s a buzz that passes between us. An electricity of hope—one that is born of connection and shared desire to change what is unjust in these times. And I remember to believe.