Is Kenya the best country in the world?
Welcome to Kenya
We have now "stumbled" into 121 countries without flying. And we didn't go home in between. Not even when we had every reason to do so.
My grandmother peacefully passed away last night. She was 90 years old. If you think I have stamina then you should have met my grandmother!! She was born in Finland and had sisu. is a Finnish word which loosely means stoic determination, grit, bravery, resilience and hardiness. You generally cannot find a good word to describe it in English.
is about taking action against the odds and displaying courage and resoluteness in the face of adversity. Deciding on a course of action and then sticking to that decision against repeated failures is . My grandmother was less than 150cm (4'9) and sweet (although firm) as only a grandmother can be. We would bake, go for nature walks and explore the world together. Being that I'm born in Denmark, and live there too, I didn't see her as much as I wanted to. But she has been there all my life. She was "the last of the giants". The last of my grandparents. 90 years old...
My grandmother when the war ended.
You know...when WWII broke out my grandmother was too young to join. So she lied about her age and joined anyway as a nurse when she was only 16 :) That's when she met my grandfather and together they had 5 children and trillions of grandchildren. She spoke Finnish, German, English and Swedish, and you usually had to be very alert when speaking to her as she would sometimes mix it all together :) She gave the wettest kisses I've ever felt. You needed a towel when she was done with you. White hair, huge thick glasses - lots of love for all of us!! I wish you could have met her. Her name was Tytti Cederlöf, but we only called her Mummi.
The last time I saw her was December 2013.
At the border.
I boarded a night bus from Kampala in Uganda, which would take me across the border to Kenyas capital Nairobi. That meant that we would be crossing the Equator once again. I didn't bring any extra clothing onboard the bus as I expected it to be warm. Coming across the border was as easy as walking into a mall. I had my East African Visa and was on a Whatsapp call with my friend Lars (who's in Denmark), while I crossed the border. I was so wrong about being warm enough! Sometime during the night I woke up from my sleep shivering like a kitten in the snow! We were in the mountains so I was in for a surprise. Finally the bus reached Nairobi which is at 1,795m (5,889ft). The temperature was pleasant and because of the elevation malaria is nonexistent.
I took an Uber to an address in the outskirts of Nairobi and spotted a monkey on the roof of a house. It's never a monkey! It's always a cat when I think I see monkeys in urban areas. But this was actually a monkey! At the address I met with Carlos from California. He showed me to my room. Carlos is a friend of Katrine who I met in Tanzania. I was supposed to stay at Katrine's place, but my arrival collided with Katrine's parents visiting Nairobi so I ended up at Carlos'. That was pretty good, because he is a great cook and a very interesting conversationalist. Besides we got to see the new Star Trek film in 3D on his giant screen.
I had to borrow Nauman's hat for the photo ;)
Then I got to see my old friend Nauman from Bangladesh. Haven't seen him since 2011. Nauman works for the United Nations in Nairobi and we went out one night to talk about the good old days. I hope we get to see more of each other before the Saga heads for Ethiopia.
I love how we are the same around the world. Kenya, Denmark...we write the same on a dusty car.
I've spent a lot of time with the Kenya Red Cross Society which I'm very interested in. Kenya is such a different country and it's no wonder that Kenya has a top economy and is well developed. That always comes from something and while I've only been here for a few days I'm beginning to see what might be the reason. Kenyans are well informed and generally well educated. When you combine that with a will to succeed you get a powerful cocktail. The trees do not grow into the skies and the country does have issues. But I'm telling you...this country is something else. On the morning before reaching Nairobi the sun rose and I was looking across an incredible vast and gorgeous landscape which to me looked lush and inviting.
Several Kenyans have asked me what I found to be the 2nd best country in the world. Implying that Kenya is the best ;)
Somehow it just made Kenya look really big to me. Nairobi on the other hand is a big city which is fairly green and sporadically very clean. The traffic is bonkers!! It's the same old same old... Nairobi was probably built to host 2 million people, but has 5-6 million now. The middle class has been growing rapidly and they all went out and got cars. It's basically a battlefield out there!! It's a little weird because looking at it, it doesn't seem bad in many ways? The vehicles are all modern, the roads are good, the streets are free of pedestrians and animals, and yet there is simply an alarming amount of traffic!
Pretty much on arrival to Kenya I did an improvised talk at Kenya Red Cross in front of perhaps 70 people. I've been doing lots of public speaking lately and it would seem that I've got something to say. I can talk about the elements of the Saga, the madness of the mission, the hardships and the joys. The Red Cross is always present. If there's a map in the room I get to point out how poorly maps represent the planet we all share. Being a cartographer is ungrateful when you need to portrait a round world on a flat square map. I get to talk about culture, history, food and people.
I did 3 talks at Aga Khan Academy in Nairobi. These are the 7th graders :)
Kenyans wake up to read about demonstrations in the USA.
I always highlight how poorly our media all around the world represents the planet we live on. Did you know that a project like this (Once Upon A Saga) is regarded as a "soft story" by most media? It is the kind of "cuteness" you can shove in between the classical stories of conflict, terror, corruption, decease and political turmoil. I think many of us crave for more informative news. How about if news stories came with possible solutions and not just the fear loaded messages?
My wonderful girlfriend is coming to Nairobi. While I write this she is somewhere above us in an airplane. I will go and fetch her from the airport tomorrow morning. I have a few things planed for her and not everything has fallen into place just yet. I've been pretty busy with that too.
I had the great pleasure of dining and spending the night with James and his loving family.
Generally I have felt a lot of overwhelming support from many Kenyans and other people in Kenya. This will be my girlfriends 10th visit since I left home more than 3 years ago. She's a great woman in the full meaning of the word.
A model poses for the camera.
Okay...that's it for now. If you feel like leaving a comment then please do so, as I love the feedback from you guys! And please note that we have added a donation feature for the Red Cross to this site. Please feel free to donate a dollar once in while ;) A part of Kenya is currently undergoing a pretty bad drought with around 1.5 million Kenyans effected and the Red Cross is doing its part to help. The rest of the country is just pure Lion King and Olympic runners. Or maybe there's more to Kenya than that? Let's see next week ;)
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - sisu
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga