Sorting Out the Details in Nairobi

Posted by on Jun 10, 2007 in Kenya | 13 Comments

Since I’ve returned back from Madagascar last Wednesday I’ve had a lot going on. Although I haven’t been out on safari or sightseeing at all I’ve been really preoccupied. First of all, the customs officer at the airport gave me only two days on my transit visa. I’ve been buying seven day transit visas in Kenya because I’ve only been in the country for a short time both times. It was impossible for me to get money, settle in and buy a bus ticket in that amount of time so I spent a little while in the immigrations building downtown pleading for an extention. Like usual, the officer told me “we aren’t supposed to do this” but gave me the full seven days I had paid for.

I managed to take out a good chunk of cash (but not as much as I need) from an ATM here and convert it to US Dollars. I’ll need a lot of dollars to pay for a trip to the gorillas (if I can get a spot) and all of the visas I’ll need. Once again I’m getting fraud notices from my bank. I’m still steaming from the unwarned cancelation of my card in Ethiopia. After that I set about town to find a good deal on a flight back home. I’ve discovered that there really aren’t many good deals to be had. It’s peak season and even on the internet, even with student fares, I’m going to pay a minimum of $1200 for a one-way flight to Chicago (probably through London). To add insult to injury there was a sign exclaiming “Nairobi – Chicago: $790” in one of the offices. Of course, those fares are long sold out, even two months in advance.

To get the cheapest fare available now I’ll have to fly Kenya Airways to London and then Virgin or American on to Chicago. I would prefer not to fly Kenya, not because they just crashed in Cameroon, but because my mom knows they just crashed in Cameroon and will worry more than she should. I’m really more concerned if they have personal screens for the in-flight entertainment.

Even to do that I will have to buy the first leg here in Kenya at the STA representative and then buy the second leg through the UK STA rep over the phone. I could buy a flight through London all the way on British Airways for $1318, but once I add 5% to use a credit card and $30 to stopover the price is right up there with most Airlines. If so, then why not fly Qatar Aiways and take a one day stopover in Doha?

If I wasn’t getting so much pressure from home to return I would just wait until September and continue South to fly out of South Africa. But with each email my mom asks more directly when I’m coming home. Somehow a graduation party for my brother has become a sticking point and everyone’s waiting for me to buy a ticket so the party can be planned and my sister can fly home from Colorado, where she lives.

To make all of this more complicated my iBook just died. If you remember, it’s been having a hard time since Ethiopia and the screen finally went completely black two days ago. I’ve gone as far as to buy the tools to open the bottom case and attempt the suggested fix myself but it didn’t work. The Kenyan hardware stores I visited were well stocked but they still didn’t have a spludger. I think either the logic board connection is totally severed or one of the cables connecting the screen got pinched. The nice people over on the Mac support forums can’t agree on that.

The idea of not having my computer is scary. I’ll have to find more books and other forms of entertainment. I won’t be able to sort my photos or update any of my site besides quick posts like this one. It kills me because I can hear it working and know the drive is still operating, it’s only the screen that’s a problem. Mac has special cables to connect to external monitors so without finding an Apple dealer my computer is unaccessable. I’ve found a “Macintosh Users Group in Nairobi” online and one of the members emailed me back today, saying he forwarded my email to an Apple dealer in Nairobi. I would love to just know where you can buy Apple products here. It probably won’t happen though because not only do I have a bus ticket to Uganda on Tuesday, my new extended visa expires on Tuesday so I have to move on.


  1. Dis
    June 10, 2007

    We were just talking about you last night at Eep’s birthday party…wondering if you were going to be home in time for a Halloween party.

    Good luck with your computer!

  2. lamesha
    June 10, 2007


    this is just my 2 cents and you don’t even know and probably never will, but i don’t think you should go home just yet, even though your mom is pressuring you. you went home LAST TIME and didn’t get to finish your trip. i’m sure there will be other parties, perhaps a welcome home party for you maybe… i just don’t think it’s the right time, especially since you have a longer intinerary.

    i’m a mama, a young one though, but i think sometimes mom just worry about you and miss you and are secretly kind of jealous that our kids are leading such interesting and fun lives and we are stuck at home doing dishes. (maybe that’s just me lol).

    anyway, i wouldn’t cave in to pressure. you can get through this complicated time. maybe in south africa you can get your laptop fixed i know they are more modern and technological there, or so i’ve heard. uganda is worse than kenya. i’ve been there.

  3. chup
    June 10, 2007

    congrat in your 1 year anni of hitting the road 🙂

  4. Lisa
    June 10, 2007

    I don’t think the big bad evil family is pressuring Megan as much as she would lead you to believe. Once Megan mentioned a date to my mom it became something for her to look forward to and of course she would ask, that’s what a mom is supposed to do. She should not have specified a return date if she did not want questions about it – she knows that. Megan is an adult and is free to make her own decisions and her mom can wait another month. I would much rather have her continue on with her trip if that is what she wants rather than have her or her internet fans hold it against her family. As far as a party goes, her brother worked hard and graduated from college. It only happens once and he deserves to have that accomplishment celebrated, with or without his sister in attendance. That is her choice. Megan has had plenty of going away and coming home parties. This time it is not about her.

    As far as LAST TIME goes, Megan decided to come home when she learned that her dad was dying. To my knowledge, there was no pressure except for being told truthfully that his condition was deteriorating and time was running out. In fact, her dad said many times that he did not want her to end her trip on account of his illness. I think she feels that she made the right decision to spend the last few months of her father’s life with him and it really isn’t relevant or fair to argue that family pressure caused her to end her trip. As you can see, she still had the opportunity to see the world.

    Neither her mom nor myself choose to discuss our personal lives over the internet, so I am taking this opportunity to respond when we are brought up, especially her mom, who is a wonderful mother and really is handling this trip in stride and has been very supportive of her daughter.

    At this point, I don’t care if she comes home in July, August or September, however Dis brought up an interesting problem: if she doesn’t return until late September her Halloween costume would never be finished in time.

  5. Megan
    June 10, 2007

    Okay guys, now you’re getting me in trouble. I don’t think anyone thinks my family is evil. If my mom had her way she’d be making me chicken and potatoes right now. Actually, if she didn’t want me home I would be a little worried. She’s been a lot more understanding than many other traveler’s parents.

    Sometimes I meet a traveler who has been on the road for two or more years. I don’t really understand how they can continue traveling like that. It sounds like a good idea—to just keep going—but usually it turns out that they’ve been living somewhere or have returned home in-between trips.

    I had always planned on being back for Halloween and for my birthday in September. But now you all have me thinking about my costume. I’ve completely missed all pop culture this year so I don’t think it will be movie-based. Maybe it’s time to sew one of those fancy medival dresses.

  6. lamesha
    June 10, 2007

    I’m not trying to make your family out to be evil– if you read into that, then that’s you I guess. It’s really not that big of a deal because I really don’t know you guys at all. I think I said that already.

    I was in uganda and kenya for 10 months and everytime I called or wrote she begged me to come home because she was worried. She knew I was fine but she still pleaded. It’s hard to travel like that. It doesn’t sound like your situation at all though. But I still stand firm in my original post.

    Megan I think you are making good decisions so far. Whatever Halloween costume you choose will be awesome.

    Your lovely “internet fan” (lmao)

  7. Kimberley
    June 10, 2007

    Okay so I have been really lazy in reading all about your wonderful travels, especially when my own posts about a day in the life of a cube-dweller are oh so stimulating.

    I think we all know that your family loves the heck out of you. As far as your brother’s college graduation goes, maybe it would be better to stick with the original game plan and let him have his day and then celebrate with him when you get home.

    My two cents (from an only child) LOL

    Another internet (but got to meet her in RL at LAX) friend. 🙂

  8. Claudia Cavazos
    June 10, 2007

    Wishing you luck with your broken laptop screen and making your decision on when to go home!
    PS—-if you do go home in time for Halloween, I hope you keep us fans updated with costume pictures!
    Pura Vida,

  9. Megan
    June 11, 2007

    I can not currently post to my blog for some reason but here’s the news:


    We’re just hearing that there was a suicide bomb at The Hilton downtown in Nairobi. It was at 8am and you know I was sitting here, 3 kilometers away, eating a mango pancake. No worries. I’m heading out to talk to an Apple repairman on the ther side of the city. By taxi. Please don’t worry.

  10. john
    June 11, 2007

    I’d be lost without my Mac.

  11. Jim
    June 12, 2007

    After a year I can imagine that you might be ready to head home! I know I “peak” at about two months, then at three months it’s time to call it a trip. Your endurance is very impressive.

    Will you be planning a Phase III with Southern Africa and/or South America?

    Good luck searching for flights!

  12. Megan
    June 22, 2007

    My mom would never plead for me to come home, she knows it wouldn’t work. I can’t believe your mom did that to you! I will keep you updated on the Halloween costume when it materializes.

    My brother actually requested for the party to be held off until I get home so I guess he doesn’t want all the attention. Besides, most of my family reads this so they won’t want to hear my lame stories again.

    I hope the screen can come back to life too!

    Yes, I know. Maybe we all need this sort of intervention.

    It willl be 14 months, that is a long time. I agree that a 3 month trip is probably ideal. As for P3, not anytime soon. But I am a traveler and I already have two more trips in mind. I think I need a bit of normailty for a while though.

  13. Brian
    July 8, 2007

    Hey guy,

    We live in western kenya, was looking for tickets and came across your blog.

    I had the SAME thing happen to my ibook on an Ethiopia trip. They have a horrific problem with the logic board coming loose. You can easily see if this is the problem by pressing on the chip while booting it.

    Here is a link for a wild and crazy trip those guys in NBO can do…