Saturday, August 25, 2007

Kenya and Uganda (Part Two)

Day two.

The following morning, I ate an honest-to-god breakfast that did not look like this:

Instead, it was heaven-sent manna prepared by the Hilton Nairobi chefs. I may have even had a banana. Mmmm.

Sated, I left for the busy streets outside and took in the sights of:
  1. People not necessarily committed to killing me;
  2. Buildings made of stone, brick, concrete and steel, rather than dung, sticks and discarded plastic shopping bags;
  3. Automobiles belching the vilest industrial filth imaginable. (Refer to fellating an exhaust pipe in Part One.)
Unfortunately, in the intervening time between sleeping and feasting, I had received an email from the outfitter with whom I'd planned on rafting the Tana and Athi rivers indicating that the water levels were too low. Of course, the only reason I'd come to Kenya was to see and feel water. (You are kindly reminded that I had just spent eight months in a searing Hell.)

How nice it was, then, that I was accosted by a "finder" not 25 steps from the hotel. He offered me (as expected) mzungu-approved safaris, and I told him I was interested. He subsequently took my arm in hand and ushered me through a dizzying series of avenues and alleys until I was dispatched with great fanfare to a smiling man seated behind a dirty, disarrayed veneer desk who promised to 'make my African dreams come true.'


I told him I wanted to whitewater raft, and related the story I'd been given by Savage Wilderness. He promptly assured me that everything would be made right, and simultaneously took up his desk phone (rotary!) and mobile and dialed through to parts of his mysterious network of 'contacts.'


Given that he couldn't accommodate my desire to raft, would I be interested in seeing the Masai Mara? Perhaps Hell's Gate?

No. Oi... what a waste of time.

I left, crestfallen and struggling to find some sort of solution. I needed water.

Having returned to my hotel room, I despondently sat at the desk and checked my email. Hey hey! I had received an email from a different 'travel service' to whom I had pleaded my case when I'd earlier discovered that Savage was going to bone me. "Call me immediately, I can help," it read.

I did so, and had a cheery conversation with a man I could only imagine as fat. No one else could be so jolly. He asked that I come to his office; I agreed. I left the hotel and hired a cab to his address where I was met -- notably, this time -- without undue fanfare. In fact, the bastard was 30 minutes late.

Once he'd arrived, I was ushered to his cluttered workspace where I sat amid piles of brochures and pamphlets and maps and across from (and uncomfortably close to) three young Kenyan women typing furiously at keyboards. (I would later learn that they were his interns, and they were engaged in updating his web page -- of which he is extraordinarily proud.)

He insisted that he could solve my problem (once I made it clear that I only wanted to raft) and, like his predecessor, made all number of calls to his (own) network.

Fail. Sigh.

"Would you be interested in going to Uganda? You could raft the source of the Nile from Lake Victoria. I could have you there tomorrow morning."

The Nile?!? Holy hell!

Ten hours later, I was on a flight from Nairobi to Kampala, where I was met by two men who (and I'm not being melodramatic here) are chiefly responsible for changing my life. And it wasn't just because of the Nile. I'll explain in my next update.


Lisa said...

Changing your life? That's immense and intriguing and a very unfairly frustrating dangling ending to a post! :)

Mood Indigo said...

Super intriguing!