26 September 2010

From Windhoek to Nairobi!

It takes me 2 days to get from Windhoek Namibia, to Nairobi Kenya!  I first catch a flight from Windhoek to Jo’berg and the 2 hour flight passes by quickly because I happened to sit next to Chris.  Chris is an Africaans man from South Africa who is travelling back home after a business trip to Namibia.  We start chatting and our conversation lasts the entire duration of the flight!

Chris is in the electronics field and has grown up in South Africa.  He has a young family now and is wondering if perhaps it is time to move on.  Australia and New Zealand are high on his wish list.  He has been to Australia previously and we chat about the place I currently call home.  Chris has recently had a traumatic experience.  He and his family were mugged while leaving a picnic and while no one was hurt the experience of having your hands tied behind your back and your car and many things stolen has shaken him and this has perhaps been a bit of a catalyst in his decision to explore the options of living on another continent.  We talk about the fact that stuff like this happens everywhere, but he tells me that too many of his friends have had similar experiences and his concern for his children’s future.

We chat about many other things and I tell him about my blog and my desire to write a book about this journey.  He promises to have a read and I give him my card with my details.  The plane touches down in Jo’berg and we say goodbye.  Chris tells me he is happy that he didn’t sit in his usual aisle seat and I ask him to look me up if his journey takes him down under.

I have one night in Jo’berg and this time I have arranged to meet Mdu for dinner.  If you remember, he drove me to my hotel the last time I was here and we have now become good friends. He has kept in touch via email and read my blog and it will be lovely to see him again.  He picks me up at my airport hotel but we are both quite tired so we walk next door for dinner.  His dad has been taken sick that morning so he has spent most of his day at the doctors office.  We order steaks and get comfortable with some red wine and cider. 

We chat till late into the night.  Mdu tells me about his kids, his dreams for the future, his Zulu culture and his desire to have a thriving business in trade.  I talk about what I have done since he last saw me in South Africa.  This journey is turning into a talk fest and it is so lovely to come back to a place and know you have a friend in what was once an unknown city.

Mdu takes me to the airport in the morning and this time we hug and say goodbye.  He is no more a stranger.  We will stay friends but I don’t know when I will see him again.   Unfortunately, the nature of this journey is that I keep having to say goodbye to friends now scattered around the globe.

My flight from Jo’berg to Nairobi has been cancelled so I have to catch a later flight.  I will miss my trip meeting but perhaps this was another trick of fate because it meant I had the chance to make my first Kenyan friend. 

My journey to Nairobi is spent chatting to Njeri.  Njeri grew up in Kenya but now lives in Washington DC and works in the human resources area.  She has just travelled to South Africa for work but is now on her way to see her family including her parents who still live in Kenya. 

She shares her interesting story with me.  A quirk of fate led her to give up her college studies and become a flight attendant and changed the course of her life.  Her job took her many places and she ended up being based in India for 6 months where she met her husband, an American who was based at the embassy there. They have 2 kids now and she calls the East Coast home but keeps coming back to her roots in Africa to touch base with her family.

We talk about the challenges of marriage between cultures and she tells me her husband chose to work in Kenya for 3 years to understand her better.  Marrying an African means also marrying an entire family.   She tells me how they have supported many of her siblings, helping some of them migrate and also helping out her sisters children when her sister passed away.  I know this is common in African and Asian cultures and perhaps many others and we talk about how different life is in the west where so much emphasis is placed on the personal development of the individual over and above the community and family unit. 

We chat for ages and once again exchange details.  Njeri tells me her daughter is really keen to explore the world and would love to have a read of my blog.  Again, we are so happy to have met each other and promise to look each other up if my travels take me to the States or her travels bring her to Australia.  We stay together through customs and I meet her cousin who works at the airport.  We finally hug at the baggage counter and Njeri promises to stay in touch.

My East African adventure is about to begin..

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