(I've changed the name from "Rants" given that I can't really rant about many things that frustrate me here, at least not without getting into some sort of trouble. As such, you'll have to wait for the book.)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Diani Beach

"To move freely you must be deeply rooted." 
-Bella Lewitsky, dancer (13 Jan 1916-2004)

I’m on an airplane from Amsterdam to Belgrade as I type this. Transit times are good for writing since I’m cut off from internet. Travel is also generally a reflective time for me, particularly when I’m by myself like I am now – alone in a metal tube with about a 150 other people. After nearly two million miles of travel, I do still enjoy it. I think it will always be a fundamental part of who I am.

It’s different than it used to be, however. Heighten security measures get old fast. The old days of people meeting you at the gate, non-invasive security searches, bringing your own drinks onto the plane, showing up less than an hour before take-off, etc. are long gone. However so is the smoking section. I do remember trying book seats on the front half of the plane since the entire back half of the plane always smelled of smoke (even if there were only 3-5 designated smoking rows depending on the size of the plane). Transatlantic flights were particularly toxic. So I suppose it’s not all bad.

Getting Out
We haven’t ventured out of Nairobi much since we moved here late last year. I suppose there are a number of reasons for this. One is that things have been quite busy since we arrived, setting up the home, figuring things out/getting into new routines. There has also been just general exploration. Nairobi has a lot to offer, particularly compared to where we were. 

Another reason that we probably haven’t ventured out much is that we lost the habit while in Burundi. In Tanzania it seemed like we were always taking off someplace, exploring the many things that the country had to offer. In Burundi a couple of things happened that fundamentally changed our habits. One was children. I know a lot of parents are better at this than I am but I traveling with babies is a bit of a hassle. Embedded in our schedule are a couple of big trips to the US. This sort of sucks the wanderlust out of you and makes you a bit less restless, at least to pack the babies, nappies and other gear to go do something that they will not remember. 

Another event was the insecurity which began in vigor in 2014-2015, around the time the girls weren’t high maintenance babies-toddlers anymore. Expats were being evacuated. My family was for a period as well. My job became a lot more complex. The government became a bit creepier to deal with. Staff were occasionally getting arrested. The international community, for the most part, stopped funding the oppressive regime. Importing goods became more complicated. There were periodic fuel shortages. Etc. At the same time the program in Rwanda was in the process of being phased out and was also demanding a lot of my time. Spending just under 50% of my week away from Bujumbura made me less interested in venturing out and spending even more time away from home.
ah the charm of the arrivals lounge
Diani Beach - May 6-7

Several weeks ago, in the heart of rainy season, we decided to spend a couple of days on the coast. We left on a Friday afternoon. I had meetings until the last minute so I met Priya and the girls at the small-ish airport used primarily for internal/tourist flights in Kenya.
kinda had the beach to ourselves for the weekend
It’s a relatively short flight and we were soon out in the humid warmth of the coast. I was immediately taken back to when we lived in Dar es Salaam. The ground was saturated from the heavy rains and from the airplane you could see considerable flooding. We had considered the challenges of rainy season tourism but the timing worked out well for us and we would hope for at least some sunshine.

It was only a couple of kilometers from the airport to the hotel, most of which was on a muddy, puddly road. The place was quite nice. Not luxurious by any means but it was all that we needed.
Over the course of the next couple of days we would alternate between pool and beach. There was a pretty nice slide that the girls never seemed to tire of, something which caused us to spend more time in the pool. The food was quite nice, particularly for a tourist buffet.
fresh coconuts - he's as good at climbing trees as he is with a knife
There were plenty of monkeys around, mostly the kind that are looking to steal your lunch. But on a couple of occasions we had some rather close views of some beautiful Colobus monkeys. I think they’re quite striking with their long hair.
We also took a couple of tuk-tuks up the road to visit some good friends who were staying in another hotel. In fact they live in our building in Nairobi – coincidence that we went to the same place the same weekend. They had opted for a fancier place and we were quite happy to enjoy it with them for a couple of hours. Strangely, aesthetically their place was far nicer but ours had a nicer beach and, of course, the slide. We had no regrets.
heading back to the airport
Getting ready to land. I’ll soon find out how much Belgrade has changed since I was here about 27 years ago. I’ll blog about that later.
Kinaya sleeping on the flight home

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