What a difference time can make. It has been a little over four years since I’ve last set foot in the East African country of Kenya. On Tuesday, February 28 I arrived on familiar soil to a place that has undergone several changes and upgrades.
First noticeable change, though I knew about it, was the airport. The Jomo Kenyatta airport had a major explosion and fire nearly four years ago. That required the international section to undergo a major much needed renovation. Prior to the upgrade the airport seemed to be locked in the 60’s or 70’s, very gloomy and old. So it was nice to see a newer looking airport, though going through immigration and customs was still very slow and confusing…not much had changed there. For the first time I’ll make use of the airports domestic terminal later in the month when I travel to and from the coast. Being out of practice and getting a little older (that excuse seem to work for everyone else), I’m just not in the mood for the nine hour bus trip to the coast and nine hours back.
Of course there were a few other changes I noticed as I traveled to my hotel that night, and later the next day as I traveled to the home of my host. There are new business hotels that hopefully will remain economical for those traveling to this extremely expensive country for those traveling solo. For a nice safe and clean hotel one can expect to pay a minimum of $160 a night for a single room. And that just starting out. Want a stay at the American hotels like Hilton or Holiday Inn, then look to pay around $230, and you that may not include breakfast or internet.
The major upgrade, thanks to the Chinese who also own some of the new business hotels, is the road improvements. The Chinese have been very busy upgrading Kenya’s roads and highways. Years ago the Germans had made major contribution to the upgrade of the main highway between Nairobi and Mombasa, which was desperately needed as the journey is already long and tedious. Now the the Chinese have taken over all major road work. And whether the roads are quality will remain to be seen, but they are very nice for now.
Unfortunately, the driving is still as scary as ever. I’m trying to embrace the custom and sit back and enjoy each trip…but while I’m in the Nairobi area I’m staying put as much as possible and just enjoy the lovely home of my host.