Thursday, May 6, 2010

Last hours in Nairobi

- before setting off for Nakuru. After a night not-sleeping in a plane, followed by a wild taxi-chase to find where I was meant to be staying, it has been good to spend 24 hours in the same place which is also the right place. I am at the AOSK Tumani Centre, a Catholic retreat and training center close to the FWCC office. AOSK stands for Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya.

Harry, Bevar and Jonathan arrived last night. Duduzile and Ramón came this morning. Ramón’s appearance gave us all particular delight as he had had setbacks getting a transit visa from Cuba and had had to be re-routed at the last minute. Whew. And Pradip arrived five minutes ago. So far, those of us who are meant to be here are all present. I do hope that continues.

I can’t help wondering about whether getting 1,000 Friends here will be ten times more complex or if these things aren’t in fact exponential. So long as people get to the International Airport in Nairobi within a certain time frame, and there are buses waiting to transport them to Nakuru, it should work out.

Navigating the airport was straightforward. I filled out my landing card and visa application on the plane, and got into the queue for visas in the arrivals hall. You have to have the right change, in the right currency (Euros, Pounds Sterling, Swiss Francs and US Dollars only) and then it seems pretty automatic. Then you pick up your bag from the carousel and walk into the area where people are greeted. There are currency exchange offices, but I was advised to draw money out of a Barclays Bank ATM nearby, which worked just fine. While I assume that for the world conference we will be picking people up in buses, for those arriving at other times it is reassuring to be able to book a taxi at a counter in the arrivals area, and to be able to pay in advance for the ride.

The picture shows the lovely ritual of washing hands before each meal. Edith brought in a pitcher of warm water, soap a towel and a bowl and poured the water over our hands. It feels like a form of grace to me.

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