So I went to Kenya. After months of talking about it, weeks of considering when and with whom I could go, three days of planning it and one day of actual decision, I booked a flight on Friday and flew to Nairobi at 4am Saturday morning. There were so many brilliant things about that country including the music (some really hot gospel songs that will make you move), people (multicultural, beautiful, fashionable), landscape (wow) and food (variety and deliciousness). One of my absolute favorite places was Old Town in Mombasa. It’s an old Swahili town right along the coast of the city where Arabic, Indian, Somali, and other African merchants would come and trade with the coast people. I walked through the narrow streets, taking photos of the tall white mosques and houses with these huge doors with intricate and lovely carvings, and a few people if they seemed like they wouldn’t mind. I was greeted with carefree, accepting looks, and calls of “Natty!” accompanied by smiles, waves and the occasional fist bump. It had a very magical, mystical feel to it. I can’t explain. Something about the just walking those streets filled me with intrigue and happiness.
I think at the foundation of my happiness were two things: 1) That despite my hectic planning, I got to Nairobi and then to Mombasa and back safely under the sweet protection of my God; 2) The abundant warmth and hospitality I received from the people I stayed with. In Nairobi, I stayed with my friend George’s family. In the prior weeks, even months that I’d been taking about going to Kenya he told me, “whenever you’re ready to go, my sister will be ready to receive you.” And receive me she did; not just Cindy, the whole family including five fun and beautiful sisters, his mom and dad and even his visiting aunt and uncle were extremely welcoming. They picked me up from the airport, took me around town, to the museum, to see my aunt who had been teaching there for a few months and even dropped me back at the airport when I was coming back to Rwanda. In Mombasa, I stayed at my friend Ani’s house and spent my time with her cousins. They were absolutely wonderful. They too gave me as much of their time as they could and made me feel at home. Completely. I just kept feeling overwhelmed with amazement and thankfulness at how much they cared about me, a complete stranger who just dropped in to see their country and who they might never see again. I got to meet her mom too who was just too sweet. I would have loved to hear more of her stories if I’d had more time. She did bless me by singing a few hymns. So beautiful.
So in conclusion, Kenya was amazing. Oh yeah I forgot to mention that I saw herds of camels, three baboons-one just chilling on the guardrail by the side of the highway. It was sitting like a man resting after a long walk . His left arm holding the rail while his right hung in his lap. I also saw a herd of elephants and a still and graceful lone giraffe, all on the bus on my way to and back from Mombasa. I was snapping photos like crazy but wasn’t fast enough to get the animals.
So again, in conclusion, I just want to share my utmost thankfulness to those who hosted me in their homes. My trip wouldn’t have been as amazing as it was without them. I also want to thank those who directed me and set me up with their friends and family both in Kenya and Uganda. Thank you guys so, so much. I really don’t deserve all your concern, generosity and airtime u spent calling back and forth to make sure I arrived safely, was having fun etc. Finally but not least (this sounds like an acceptance speech doesn’t’ it?) I want to say thank you to God who watched over me, gave me a smooth journey, the privilege of even getting to travel in the first place, kept me company and showed me that I should not be afraid of going places alone. Sometimes when you move alone, you create space for amazing people to come into your life.