When I was a young, pretty girl ages ago….I worked abroad for 16 years – for the same company that I still work for now (been there for 22 good years) in the travel industry.
Who would ever had thought that Kenya would have had that kind of impact on me – and literally changing my life….for the better.
I first came to Kenya on Christmas Eve 1994…. I’ll never forget it….I felt that our HR boss (funny how his initials actually matches the letters HR…) had somehow “forced me there”… During those years, Kenya was the one and only destination that I absolutely NOT wanted to go to – for any reason what so ever.
Why? Because I thought it was a primitive country (sorry, I never said I was smart those days…!), filled with snakes – yes, I still suffer from a hysterically, unhealthy and sickening snake phobia…(really should seek treatment for it…).
That was the sad, naive, less-educated opinion I had of Kenya in 1994…
So, when the company really got busy in Kenya and needed more staff…and I was in India without clients…it seemed like the most natural thing in the world for the HR department to send me there…
I only agreed to go because of 2 reasons;
1) My dear friend Tinne and then colleague was going with me.
2) HR promised that it would be for 3 months only.
So, I arrived in Kenya on Christmas Eve (quite upset that I had to travel on dec. 23rd. instead of finally spending Christmas with my family in Sweden!), and left for my first safari the following week….
I had no expectations at all, what so ever – but then after the first day, I LOVED KENYA!!!!!
It was not primitive at all being on safari…the lodges were great, food was fantastic (yes, I also loved food then…), the Kenyans so extremely and genuinely friendly, the bush and game parks soooooooooooooooo beautiful and stunning in every possible way.
Since I loved it all so much, I called our HR boss after my first safari, asking him to extend my 3-months contract to a full 6-months one…
The answer from Henrik was loud and clear; “Anna, we had a clear agreement on this from the beginning. There are so many reps who put Kenya as their number one choice for their destination. You never wanted to go there, so you’re off to Greece and Kos after your 3 months. But you’re welcome to apply for Kenya after your summer season there.”
Oh well, he was right….and I did apply to come back, which I did…for 3 years…and then left for one summer…but got back for 3 years…and left for another summer…and got back for 5 years….Ending up spending a total of full 11 years in Kenya before it was time to say kwaheri (goodbye) and leave.
At that time in my life, as hard as it was (I cried all the way over Sahara and did not stop until we flew over Malta..), it was the best thing for me to do. For so many, mostly private, reasons.
Having said that – I don’t mind admitting that I miss Kenya every single day.
A day never passes without me missing and thinking of my Heaven on Earth, which to me is the Mara.
The Masai Mara with its’ endless plains, beautiful sunsets and so full of peaceful…..
The plains, the animals, that special, golden, magical light that you will only find in Kenya from 5 pm – 6 pm every day….the colors, that smell in the early morning after a rainy night, the…everything….
I miss it. Each and every day.
Apart from the Mara, I also miss my Kenyan friends a lot, as well as some few other ex-pats I spent a lot of time with – and you all know who you are…..
I lived in both Mombasa and Nairobi – most years in Nairobi.
Most tourists just pass by Nairobi enroute to/from the airport on their safari route.
It’s a great town though – probably one of the greenest capitals in the world. The altitude of about 1800 metres above sea level and very close to the equator gives it the best climate in the world.
It never gets as humid as it does along the Kenyan coast, mostly the temperatures are around +22-25 and the sun is out just about every day. Hottest months of the year is March, where temperatures might reach a full +28, but again, dry heat and not humid…
Perfect weather! In other words – Scandinavian summer when it reaches its’ best…(like 5 days annually…)…
It never gets too hot, nor too cold… However, during our winter months (July-August) the temperature does go down to around +10 at night. I used to love those months though as they gave me a chance to wear my cosy sweaters….
Nairobi has a huge selection of restaurants – you can get just about anything to eat there, from basic joints, lush garden restaurants to very exclusive gourmet fine dining……
Surprisingly enough, most of the worlds’ kitchen are represented in Nairobi and the quality of food and service is outstanding and just the same, or most of the time even way better, than what we have up here.
And oh yes, all the nice cafés…..with great coffee and yummmmyyyyy cakes…..
Location is also good, just about an hour drive to the lovely Naivasha area in the Rift Valley, 20 minutes plane ride to my beloved Mara and an hour’s flight away from Mombasa.
If you also are that spa type-of-person, there are several great spas around – my favourite being Maisha Spa at the Nairobi Serena Hotel.
They also have a great fitness centre with excellent instructors (love their classes!) and I used to enjoy coming there as a Maisha member between my trips to the bush.
Yes – life in Nairobi was great – and especially the climate!
During my years in Kenya, I was also very lucky to do safaris in Tanzania and visit Zanzibar, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Rwanda, Seychelles and Uganda for holidays.
Even though no place as beautiful as Kenya, I must say that my visits to Victoria Falls and my visit to the gorillas in Rwanda belong to my absolute top 5 experiences in Africa.
I never, ever would have guessed, imagined or even thought that Kenya would have had such an impact on me, but what they say is true…You either love or hate Africa.
And I, obviously, love Kenya more than any other country.
Just like Eric Wainaina, who sings one of my favourite songs;
And if your swahili isn’t up to date….the English version (literally directly translated from the original swahili version);