Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Day 25. Traffic jams from Jo'burg to Nairobi

Whatever they may advise about being three hours ahead of time at the airport it is not enough if your are trying to get to the Jobby airport. I should have smelled a rat when I was sipping coffee in the terrace of my room at 6 am and everyone else was already hopping on their cars and leaving. I started at 6:30 am and got caught in two horrible traffic jams in Jobby's super-modern highways. I will say one thing for the South Africans: They are polite drivers that will actually let you through if you put your blinkers.

I arrived to the airport in a froth, barely making my 9:50 flight. And then we waited, and waited, and waited because there was an airplane jam, so we were delayed nearly an hour in take-off.

I finally got to Nairobi, about 3:30 pm, and could not see my hostess, Margaret, anywhere. OK, so I took the time to go to the Budget counter, where a very nice young woman greeted me with a huge smile and informed me that they didn't have a reservation for me. Trying not to get upset I showed her my reservation papers and she said "Hakuna matata" (no problem!). She called the main office, ordered a car, and told me that it would be ready in 30 minutes. In the meantime we had a good chat (I learned that her name was Swalha, she was a Muslim, she had worked for several years with a non-profit running a camp in arid northern Kenya, and was always looking for a better job), and she did me the favor of calling Margaret's cell phone. Poor Margaret, she had been delayed at the office and was doing her best to get to the airport. "Hakuna matata" said Swalha, "I will keep him safe here for you".

Finally Margaret arrived an hour later (she had taken a taxi but had been caught in a traffic jam), the car arrived half an hour later (he had been caught in another traffic jam), and we took off to pick up Margaret's husband, Patrick, in his office in downtown! Yes, you guessed right, it was a solid traffic jam there, and from there to their house, which is in the country, about 20 km from the city.

So, here I am in Nairobi, relaxing before work starts on earnest tomorrow. Good night!

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