"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Kenya Journals, Ch. 3: Despite Passport Problems and Assault Weapons, We Finally Get to the Masai Mara

Jambo, Jambo, Bwana
(Hello, hello, sir—Kenyan pop song)

Despite Passport problems and assault weapons, we finally get to the Masai Mara

“When did you come into Germany?” asks the passport control agent.

“Yesterday.”   I know what he’s looking for.   My passport is brand new and there’s only one stamp in it—the one from Iceland where I landed and changed planes yesterday.
Obviously, because I’m standing in front of him, I got into Germany and he’s wondering HOW I got into Germany without the necessary stamp in my passport.   Can’t help him there.   I explain that I never saw passport control, nor was any customs agent visible after I picked up my luggage.  I sailed right on through, following the crowd.

He’s confused.   Finally, he stamps my passport allowing me to leave Germany (which, officially, I never entered) and I head for the gate where my Lufthansa flight will board for the next leg—to Kenya.

Greg finds me at our gate; I spot Mary and then Charlie.   They are all strangers to me but I recognize them from their Facebook profile photos.  To make things easier for Jimmy, Greg’s expediter on the Nairobi end, we all selected this particular flight to Kenya.   Marg and Barbara arrived in Kenya earlier and are at the Fairview Hotel where we will overnight.

It’s an eight-hour flight and the flight path on the little TV screen in front of my fascinates me.   So does the geology of northern Africa.   From the air, the land appears to have been brushed with giant comb, all the topographical landmarks laid out in parallel north-south rows.


When you sit in the back of a large airliner, you get what's left.   In this case, a tasty cheese tortellini.

For Americans, who need to be careful where we go, this was an interesting flight path.   Yes, I looked for pyramids.   No, I didn't see them.

It's dark when we arrive in Nairobi.   And late.   It’s even later after we wait in a hot room for our individual turn at passport control.   Whatever wait time I was spared at passport control entering Germany, was more than made up for in Nairobi. 

An hour and a half later, Jimmy and his friend stuff all our luggage into two vehicles and drive us to the Fairview Hotel.  It’s surrounded by walls and has some serious security measures at the driveway entrance.  Mary and I are sharing a room and by the time we crawl into our beds and turn off our lights, it’s past midnight.



We’re up at 5:45 A.M. and find Marg in the dining room.  By 8, we’re checked out and loaded up.

Marg and Mary in the dining room of the Fairview Hotel in Nairobi

And then SOMEONE causes an international incident that almost lands us in the hoosegow.  

The front vehicle in our two-vehicle caravan is pulled over to the side of the road not a block from the hotel, automatic weapons and all.   IDs and passports are checked, phone calls are made.   It’s a long process before we are allowed to leave.

Those of us in the second car are clueless.  It turns out that SOMEONE in the front car (who shall remain nameless) received a GoPro for Christmas and had attached it to the windshield to film the route through Nairobi to a small plane airfield.   SOMEONE was unaware the Israeli embassy is located in the neighborhood.

SOMEONE was unwittingly very naughty and lucky not to be in jail, but for the rest of us, it’s a good story to recount.

I was fascinated with the intricate hair styles in Nairobi.

At the small plane airfield, a gorgeous hunk of eye candy named Adam escorts us to the Governor’s Aviation Cessna Caravan that is chartered just for our group.   Photographers carry a lot of heavy equipment, and they needed the extra baggage allowance.   

 Except me.   I’m still feeling smug about how little baggage I have.  But then, I’m not a real photographer like the rest of these guys.

Adam left, Greg right.


The looks, the tousled hair, the job--Adam has it all going.   I asked him if he knew of Beryl Markham, author of West with the Night.   He smiled and his eyes lit  up and  he said he did.   Markham was also a pilot in Kenya.

Another lovely lady with a striking hair do.

An hour later, we land on a dirt airstrip on the Masai Mara National Reserve.   The reserve covers some 583 square miles in south-western Kenya and is the northern-most section of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem, which includes some 9,700 square miles in Tanzania and Kenya.

Our class photo.   For the next two weeks, this bunch will be my companions.   Minus Adam, of course.   (Sigh.)

Finally.   Seems to me I’ve been traveling for four days—drive to Anchorage and overnight,  fly all night, overnight in Frankfurt, fly all day, overnight in Nairobi.  

And then I learn my first word in Swahili:    Jambo!  

Land Rover safari vehicles.  My gray suitcase with the orange duct tape stripe in visible in the cart at right.   Glad it made it.

 More photos of the Fairview Hotel grounds.

I take photos of brooms around the world.   I have no idea why.   Also padlocks, intricate doorknobs, and beautiful doors.

YES!  YES!  YES!  Or rhino horns.


  1. It amazes both of us how you were able to bypass passport / immigration control in Frankfurt !! The system is designed so that it is literally impossible to bypass it. And today's Rhetorical Question Is : What on earth is a GoPro ?? Very nice hotel the Fairview. Very nice photos thereof. Patti says it is just great that your pilot was familiar with West With The Night. Hugs from Patti and Smiles from Cap ..

    1. Cap, see Greg's comment below. A GoPro video camera is favored especially by sports enthusiasts. They can wear them on a headband and film whatever daredevil activity they're engaged in. Some use them for time-lapse drives. They are very tiny and light weight. Google it.

  2. Okay, I admit, I am guilty. A Gopro is a camera that takes stills, time-lapse (many stills stitched together that look like a movie in fast forward) and video. You affix it to a vehicle or your person and it records your activity as you are doing it. When I am done I will give a copy of parts of our safari drives to Jeanne and she may post it if she likes. I naively had the Gopro recording as we drove by the embassy...Oops. They were not impressed...I organized the safari so I should have known better...But I wasn't thinking. :)