Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Today my spirit was broken and I was defeated… how did that happen? Well getting to and hanging in Nairobi explains that.
First let me say as I was finishing up the safari’s in Tanzania, one of my safari mates was also headed to Nairobi for her next leg of the trip. So Chante and I decide that we will be traveling together on the Muzungo bus between Arusha and Nairobi.
Now let me tell you the bus that we were on was LIGHT YEARS ahead of the chicken bus of previous posts. This bus had soft seats, and it wasn’t even full and NEVER stopped for anyone. However, it was basically a shuttle buss you would see at a car rental place in the US but a little smaller.. the roads however left MUCH to be desired. Imagine if you will, I-275.. 6 lanes.. and basically they decide to not finish paving the road over any bridges and make you take a 90 degree turn to drive off onto a gravel, washboard, completely dusty, pothole ridden detour running along side the road for a mile until you could get the next flat stretch of road that they had bothered to pave. Now imagine driving over that side road at about 85 miles an hour over the washboards and swerving wildly left and right to avoid the potholes. Now imagine doing that while 18 wheelers do the same coming directly AT you kicking up an impenetrable dust cloud. But you don’t have the full picture because I was stuck in the back of the bus… near the only windows open for ventilation. So what you think? Well aside from jarring so severe I’m sure all the good work of Dr. Dan the dentist have been completely undone I am STILL blowing soot and dust out of my nose and from inside my teeth.
Well, of course the great SIM card caper I pulled in Tanzania blows up in my face as we cross the border into Kenya and bam.. I now have no cell service anymore.
The upside of this wild toboggan ride of a shuttle bus excursion, is that we made the trip in 6 hours! 2 hours early! However, the bus was SUPPOSED to drop me off at the hotel that Jonas from my safari company had arranged for me. HA! Nothing is so easy here.
As we roll up to downtown Nairobi, it is clear that the driver did not indeed drop us off. However, I’m excited to see a gentleman get on the bus and walk up to me and say “Bill? I was sent to pick you up and take you to your hotel.” Well, hell, I think, thats nice of Jonas to do that, and off we go.. as we start to get some money from the ATM before hitting the hotel, I start thinking somethings up but naww, the guy knew my name BEFORE I told it to him. He says he will take me to the Heron Ct hotel but the rate there is something like $280 / night which is most definitely not in my budget. So he says he has another place that is actually around $100/ nt which is also not in my budget but for one night I can swing it and in the morning I’d figure something else out. Well all through this he is telling me about how he works with Jonas and Peter and that the companies work together to share customers on occasion, and they were busy so they sent him down to tend to us.
Well somehow I decided to pay in cash (the credit card machine was broken) and for two nights instead of just one because the hotel did indeed look nice. Well looks are where it ended. First we were given a room with no fan, no mosquito nets, no A/C.. breaking my first rule of hotel shopping I didn’t look at the room before accepting it. Then after dinner, the key didn’t work at all and with no lift, we were stuck walking up and down 5 flights of stairs to try and remedy the situation. Finally, after a descent meal, off to bed we went.. fortunately the mosquitos new exactly where my ear was to bus in it and not allow me to fall asleep. Then it was the situation of our room to be on an inside courtyard which opened up all the way down apparently right on top of the kitchen cleaning station.. at midnight the pots and pans and dishes start clanging and crashing echoing all the way up the courtyard into our windows.. still not asleep… I think I finally fell asleep somewhere around 4am .. only to be woken up at 5am by the loudest techno music I can imagine… I think there were people doing aerobics or something with drums and shouting below… for 2.5 hours!!! No sleep still.. so finally at 7:30 am the music stops and I have had enough.
I text Jonas to tell him this is unacceptable and basically I am pointed out that I have indeed been scammed and he knows no “Sam” who was who took us to the hotel. So after packing up I decided to try and get my money back for the second night. I have at this point been completely demoralized, completely ashamed, completely exhausted and completely ready to give up and come home. But I push for my money back, despite the fact that they try and stall me off and sick a shady taxi driver on me, I finally get my 8000 TSH back and then have the anger in me to negotiate a good rice with the taxi driver to get us to the JK Safari offices.
Well at the offices, we spill our story, they sympathize and are super nice and helpful. I get my flights to/from Madagascar booked, a new cheaper and nicer hotel booked for the next two nights and off Chante and I head back to as it turns out.. RIGHT WHERE WE WERE ORIGINALLY DROPPED OFFF. So we had all this suffering when we could have walked 100 feet from where our shuttle bus stopped and been safely where I sit right now in a comfortable room with hot shower and a good restaurant with free WiFi.
I’ll fill ya in on the rest of my time in Nairobi later tonight.