Friday, October 14, 2011

Kissing giraffes in Kenya: Country # 89

People often ask me if I get nervous traveling on my own.  My answer is usually not.  I try to do research beforehand so that I don't find myself staying at the intersection of Murderer's Alley and Pickpocket Place.  I try to exercise 'city sense'.  I try not to look like I'm packing a ton of cash (this one comes really easy, somehow).  And I always try to look like I know where I am going (this is one: not so easy.)  Yet none of these made me feel 100% confident heading into a city, affectionately known by friend and foe alike as "Nairobbery".  Tales of general lawlessness abounded and seeing as  I was set to start a safari in two weeks, one that required a large cash payment, I felt like a veritable walking ATM.

To allay these concerns, I initially based myself in the 'burbs.  I went straight from Kenyatta Airport to the Bush House and Camp, a lovely guesthouse located in the Karen district. This area, named after Karen Blixen, the author of Out of Africa, is where affluent Kenyans and ex-pats live in massive gated mansions with ever-present armed guards keeping watch.  It is not the most exciting part of town but it is the safest.