Thursday, January 03, 2008

Update from Africa

First off, we are now safely out of Kenya. This morning we left the very very bad situation in Nairobi and are now in Arusha, Tanzania.

I'm in an Internet cafe with a somewhat flakey Internet connection, so it's a bit slow using my usual web interface for posting blog updates. This leaves me a very short time to write. Please parden the typos and occasional poor grammar as I won't have time to proofread this- only ten minutes left on my cafe time slot.

We were in Kenya for the first 5 days of our trip. The capitol Nairobi was unusually empty when we arrived on Saturday night due to the tensions from the deciding of the election results. People were avoiding the city. All businesses had been closed since the 24th of December and then because of the increased tensions, the businesses remained closed. Some places were running out of food because stores had been closed for so long.

For Sunday we tried to avoid any trouble in the city and went to a waterpark near where the embassies are. It was a pretty safe area and it was good to just relax after losing more than a day from travel. The next day we left Nairobi in the early morning and headed to the Massaai Mara to go on a two day safari. The safari was awesome and I hope to share lots of pictures when I return.

While on safari we were keeping up with the news of the unrest due to the undecided election results. When it was announced the current president won, we were told that was going to be bad. We were traveling in two safari vehicles and they had a two-way radio network with all the other safari tour drivers to keep track of what roads were safe for travel and which were not.

At one point when things were getting really bad we made contigency plans to just get the heck out of Kenya and head directly for Tanzania even though we had left most of our luggage at a hotel in NAirobi while we were on safari. Fortunately, things calmed down enough to risk the trip back to Nairobi on Wednesday.

The news said that Thursaday there were plans for a big rally in Nairobi to protest the election results, so we decide to head out early early in the morning. On the way out, we gots to see lots of armed soldiers surround the main park where the protest was planned, and lots of police in riot gear. It was definitely a good idea to get out.

Our drive to Tanzania was very uneventful and we are now planning on staying the remainder of our time here. We fly out of Nairobi, but if the situation remains bad there we will consider catching a flight from an airport in Tanzania direct to the Nairobi airport to avoid any trouble. On the drive out of Nairobi to the first safari, we drove through the aftermath of one of the riots and it wasn't a pretty sight. Based on the footage I've seen in the news, I don't want to be anywhere near it. Fortunately, the Nairobi airport is south of the Nairobi, so it might be safe to take the drive from Tanzania direct to the airport.

On a the lighter side of this update, the safari in thE Massai MAra was awesome and I saw (and got pictures of) just about every major animal you might think of when thinking of African wildlife. It's amazing how many animals there are in the open plains. It's interesting to think that that's what the world used to be like before people came along and created cities and all that.

Well, gotta run. I already added more time to my account to finish this, but I must reallyl go now. Hopefully I'll have more time to write a more coherent summary of what we've done so far.