**DISCLAIMER - sorry there aren't pictures, may add some later, and I use the word sh** a lot**
So I’m here at Mombasa International Airport – and one more blunder or mishap away from bursting into pathetic, nerve-racked sobs. I know this is going to be a post dedicated to mostly whining and “misadventures” for my readers, but for me it’s a vent session to keep my mind sane at this moment. The morning started off with the regular 4:30 am call to prayer, which startled me so badly that I couldn’t get to sleep. So I decided to get up, and I found the staff house and volunteer house locked, meaning I had to wake up one of my poor friends who had been out with everyone last night to open the door for me before proper sunlight has even began to show. So that was my last goodbye, to a very disgruntled and sleepy-eyed Maasai named Benja. I wish he was here with me right now…I think he would make me laugh or at least share a coke for companionship. Traveling alone sucks.
Ok so after that, I sit in a matatu for an hour and a half before it leaves for Mombasa. We get to the end the end of the dirt road, and are on the tarmac for about 15 minutes when it breaks down, COMPLETELY. So I’m now standing on the side of the road (its like 8 am by now, my bus leaves at 10) and a tractor comes by, so of course we all jump on the trailer in the back. Which is kind of fun, but a little uncomfortable. The tractor brings us to Msambweni, when we are all put into an 11 seater matatu that already has over 15 people in it. The grand total is now 23 people, I’m on a man’s lap, and another man is on my lap. My head is bent in a very uncomfortable angle, and then I start to feel the guy I’m sitting on playing with the back of my dress. I can’t move to turn and yell at him, so I just suck it up. For once I just suck it up and keep quiet, and its humiliating (just to myself, but that’s enough). FINALLY we get to the ferry at Likoni, and I wait for two ferries to go back and forth before I get on one. By now its 10 am, and I’m definitely missing the bus. I begin to resign myself to the fact that I need to buy a plane ticket to Nairobi, meaning that I’ll miss saying goodbye to some of my friends unless they are saintly enough to come to the airport (still crossing my fingers…offered to buy drinks as incentive), and also that I’ll have to use my credit card that needs to be paid in one week and OH I don’t have any money in my bank account
Oh well. But then it gets better…or worse I’m not sure it depends on if you’re a sadist I guess. I called a tuk tuk (a convenient sort of go-cart that swarm Mombasa day and night) to come in an hour and pick me up to take me to the airport. I get a call that he’s arrived, 10 minutes earlier than expected, and I get my things and go. There are two gates to the gated community where the GVI Mombasa house is, and I go to the back gate (the gate I said I would be at). And there he is! A really nice, covered blue tuk tuk with its engine purring . I throw my bags on and I ignore the very subtle but visual twitch in his face as he looks puzzled for a minute, but then sheds it away and is the ever-friendly and helpful tuk tuk driver, getting the mzungu to the airport obviously, because why else would they be carrying everything they own on their backs? So off we go! I try, unsuccessfully, to get some cozipam at the local pharmacies (one of the downsides of being in a moderately developed country in African terms – white tourists can’t get their drugs for cheap anymore! Maybe this is why we’re trying to keep the poor poor…but I digress) And I keep getting calls from a random number saying “Where are you? What are you doing?” and I’m like “I’m on my way to the airport, I’m in a tuk tuk…” and these calls come intermittently for about 90 minutes. The last time the caller goes “Are you ready yet?? I’ve been waiting here for two hours for you!”. Then I realize. I got in the wrong tuk tuk, and this poor guy has been waiting for me and my 1000 KSH trip to the airport this whole time, and what I had been saying kind of sounded like I was on my way to the gate for the last 2 hours.
So I feel like shit, and at this point I’m waiting for the flight to Mombasa to leave. The theme of the next 24 hours is “I feel like SHIT. No really, this is the SHIT of the SHIT and I feel SHITTY”. I spent the night in the Nairobi Airport – I have a terrible pain in my knee and my neck, and oh yeah I got mugged and lost all the cash on me – and I’m exhausted. And my feet are really dirty. I think there was more for me to rant about but I can’t remember, I have like memory lapse of the past 12 hours. I did have a dream (what? I got to REM stage?) that I was swimming in a lake and got bitten by a black mamba, the most poisonous snake in the world, and no one around me would help me. In the dream, a tourist dhow came by and I was thrashing and weakly yelling for help and they all looked at me, and they were all fat old rich white people, and kept going on the dhow to try and find dolphins. I woke up to the check-in for a flight to Somalia, which even at 5 am is still a recipe for lots of yelling and pointing and shouting and more yelling. But it was cool, I met this really nice lady who works for a development NGO to empower women and give them alternative income skills (SOUND FAMILIAR!?!) So that was cool, and I got her card and I’m going to look into her group when I get back to the world of wi-fi.
After meeting the woman, who I know think was actually my guardian angel, everything started to get a little better. She also had a bright orange sarong covering her head that is my favorite shade of orange, and the color filled me with a warm glowy light. This could be a symptom of severe exhaustion and dehydration, but it’s better than feeling like a despondent, despairing, depressed lost child who is also really bloated and uncomfortable. But the light let me to a coffee house, which took my credit card, and I got some water and coffee and felt better. And I’m just 15 minutes away from boarding the plane. The feeling that I’m never going to get home is fading slowly…I think the worst part is over. Still 36 hours to go…