I had a great two days in London prior to jetting out early this morning; wish I could have stayed a bit longer since I didn’t get to do all the touristy sightseeing stuff I craved. I do have a few days when I get back and won’t have to run around getting things I need for Africa, which is how I spent the majority of the past two days in London.
I got to see Macbeth at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre fresh off my flight, and felt genuinely thrilled to be there after having studied/ read about the Globe all these years. It wasn’t ideal having my big overstuffed backpack and daypack with me in the narrow 17th-century bench seating as I did, but the gorgeous sunny day and amazing performances, and the smoking hotness of the actor who played Macbeth, and the lovely Pimm’s lemonade to which my lovely English friend Dani introduced me, countered the awkwardness of lugging five weeks’ worth of backpacking around the historic and crowded theatre. Afterwards we did a bit of walking around the Millennium Bridge area; I spotted the Gherkin Building which I’ve only seen in pictures and think is incredibly cool; and experienced my first English pub (Swiss Cottage Pub, across from my friend Serena’s flat where I stayed), ate my first real English pub food (bangers and mash), and caught up with some awesome friends over Samuel Smith beers.
The next day found me strangely still un-jet-lagged and ready to hit sunny London again. It involved lots of shopping around Oxford Street where Dani and I stumbled on an amazing sale at Selfridge’s and I bought clothes and shoes very much for after Africa. Picked up other odds and ends we needed … mosquito nets, water purification tablets and things of that nature … before heading out to meet up with Nick, a cool Londoner that Dani and I had met in Thailand a couple of years ago. More beers, more Pimm’s, more English pub food and some World Cup action, France vs. Mexico (olé!). Got back to Serena’s, did a final packing and a little sleep before heading out early in the morning for the airport.
Now we’re on Kenya Airways about to land in Nairobi and transfer flights to Entebbe, Uganda. More later, gotta turn off electronic devices.
In the Jomo Kenyatta Airport, Nairobi
This is a typical hot and humid developing-nation airport with one long corridor along which all the gates are lined up; in between them are duty-free shops with all the foreign chocolates and perfumes and liquor and cigarettes; tiny bookstores selling Lonely Planet guides and Internet access for $4 per 25-minute session; small canteens selling sandwiches, meat pies, chips, beer, soda and bottled water; souvenir shops filled with kente cloth garments, native jewelry, and wood carvings of African animals and tribal busts.
The people milling around, bunched along the corridor outside their gates in plastic chairs or (more commonly) on the floor, are a true mix of cultures, with more Westerners than I had predicted there would be. Most of them seem to be with volunteer or church groups, and all ages and a lot of nationalities appear to be represented. There are tons of adorable babies and children of all races, and lots of travelers meeting and chatting over beers and communal electrical outlets. It’s a very congenial place. English has been spoken quite fluently in the airport, but I’m predicting that will change once we hit Uganda.
I have to say the Kenyan people as a whole are a damn good-looking bunch — really dramatic bone structure, gorgeous smooth dark skin, dazzling smiles which they flash often. In the planes and airport they’ve blasted upbeat African music and the Kenya Airways crew are all wearing soccer-ball shirts in celebration of the World Cup being played right now in South Africa (though Kenya doesn’t have a team). The pilots give World Cup game updates during the flights. All in all I am very much liking this vibe.
Dani, Serena and I are now on a quick hop to Entebbe, Uganda where we will find accommodations after we land at midnight … our trip-planning skills have been, to put it mildly, wanting. (Two of our three flights today involved the airline staff paging us from the gate to warn us to get our asses on the plane or be left behind.) My travel snafus so far include being unable to find a camera cord for my iPad in both California and London, so I’m not sure how many pictures, if any, I’ll be able to post from the road. And I just re-injured a nasty back muscle pull that I developed last week … it had almost fully healed when I strained it again while giving the bathroom door a firm push on the middle flight from Paris to Nairobi. I heard a soft clunk before I felt a sharp, stabbing pain and now I’m back to square one with it. Not the type of injury one wants to have when one is lugging a heavy backpack and daypack around a foreign continent … but I’ve got no choice but to soldier on, riding on Tylenol and yoga stretches. Between my back injury and Serena’s chronic headache problem we’re gonna be like two cranky old ladies hobbling along and bitching about our aches and pains. I really hope we find a place tonight with a decent mattress because my “sleep anywhere” superpower is sure to be severely tested.
On to Uganda …