Monday, October 8, 2007

Sunday, 9 September 2007 (Amsterdam to Nairobi)

(As told to my journal by me) -- Technically it is Sunday morning, though I don't feel like it is. The flight went pretty quickly, actually. We had a decent breakfast, sort of a breakfast panini and a box of cookies. And normally I don't drink coffee on the plane, but given all the travel and the need to stay awake, I splurged.

We're scheduled to land in about 15 minutes, or 6:45AM. Given that were booked for a 7:25 touchdown, that's pretty good. No way Delta would have made that time, and they get priority out of ATL. (So far, KLM has done a great job. I really didn't know what to expect, but it's been better than I thought it would be. Although I don't understand why they collect the headphones at the end of the flight. Glad I have my own.)

9:53AM -- The airport got busy quickly this morning. Luckily we arrived at gate F-2 and had to go to F-9. We ran into the same couple we saw at ATL, at check-in, then again at the mailbox at concourse E. They were on our flight over, one aisle behind us, then right in front of us at F-9. (This would end up being a theme.) They are from Alpharetta, meeting some friends for another safari. He said they did it about five years ago, and the experience was just indescribable (yet another recurring theme - although isn't that adjective pretty much contradictory?) They said they are doing a sort of private safari, picking particular places they'd like to visit this time, based on what they saw earlier. Meanwhile, I heard my first Kiswahili being spoken, to the Dutch flight attendants behind us. And I haven't found any other Micat-ites yet.

1:52PM -- Trying to get myself awake. Probably a good idea not to sleep the rest of the flight, so as to get on the right schedule. I should put my contact lenses in. And when do we cross the equator, anyway? I want to say a little hello and thank you to Paw-Paw when we do - as adults, we never got to talk about his Navy experiences, but Mom said he always remembered getting thrown into the Pacific on his first southern crossing. I'm making my own!

5:41PM -- Now I am seriously clock-watching. And just a little bit nervous! Whoever said the food on KLM was bad was nuts. I just had a great soup, salad, and dessert. It was a curry soup with those little fried onion things, and a carrot salad with dried papaya fruit. And it was served McDLT-style, which is awesome.

10:52PM -- I' M HERE! Wow, this is too amazing. We bought some cash as soon as we got off the plane. No idea how good the rate was (65:1), as compared to non-tourist locations. (Didn't know at the time that Micato would change Shillings for us tomorrow at a slightly better rate.)

We had to wait in two different lines at visa control because they didn't know what to do with us since we already had our visas.

Waiting for our bags was actually nerve-racking, not knowing what to expect, how long it would take, which direction the thing would go, etc. It seemed to take forever. Little did (wait a minute - shifting now to past-tense reporting style) we know that Micato had an ace up their sleeve - Selma, she who can make magic happen at NBO! I think she spotted us when we reached for another Micato bag, not ours. Within seconds she was over to introduce herself, and to welcome us to Kenya. She said there were six total on the flight, us plus four others. (These would turn out to be the couple from California, J&J, and the two friends that work together, but live on opposite coasts, B&M. B's luggage experience, and Selma's relentless pursuit of the bags, would come up again later.) When the bags showed up, Selma showed us where to sit and wait for the other four. After gathering everyone, we proceeded to the vans, joined by driver Charles. The drive to the hotel was sort of uneventful, since it was well into evening at this point and there was very little to see.

The hotel, the Norfolk , is beautiful. It looks like classic royal lodgings. The lovely Micato hostess (Kisea, our concierge), brought our keys and led us to our rooms, with an appointment to get started on our Monday gathering at 7:45AM. The room had roses waiting for us, and a wonderful fruit basket. This was also my first experience with bottled water as a cleaning tool. It's easy to slip up with things like running your toothbrush under the faucet by mistake. But there is always bottled water available at every lodge, and Micato always makes sure you have plenty available wherever you are. The room was two twin beds, and a very comfortable bathroom. There was some construction going on, so we had a view of the under-renovation health club. But as we would find out quickly, it wouldn't matter too much, because Micato makes sure you earn your free time (i.e. - they keep you pretty busy!) We settled in pretty quickly, cleaned up just a bit, then went to sleep, ready to get the adventure started tomorrow.

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