Still in Kenya...and here we'll stay for a while
A few weeks ago I question if Kenya might be the best country in the world?
I never got around to it. But it's simply a part of a philosophy, where any country could be the best country in the world. Forget about all those measurable things as health, wealth, corruption and education. I guarantee you that you can visit any country in the world, and someone there will say it's the best country in the world. Somalia has endless prestigious beaches, Syria has unparalleled history and culture, South Sudan has astonishing nature and so does North Korea. As such I believe that any country could be the best country in the world. In fact I would argue that it's your job to prove that the country you're in is the best country in the world. Because it is to someone. As such Kenya is currently the best country in the world - and looking at my current visa situation it could remain the best country for a while to come...
I need to get from Kenya to Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, back through Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea, back through Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria, before we leave Africa. Currently the prospects seem to be that we could be leaving the continent around February 2017. As you may already have gathered, I would need multiple entry visas for both Ethiopia and Sudan. Those two visas (single entry or multiple) are harder than what I first thought. And it doesn't help much that Ethiopia has recently declared 6 months state of emergency. I'm truly looking forward to visiting Ethiopia though, as I hear absolutely wonderful things about its development during the past 15 years. And almost anyone knows of its natural wonders. We'll see soon enough.
Defending Kenya as the best country in the world is kind of an easy job. Kenya isn't perfect and I haven't been to a country which is. If you want all the negativity then pick up a newspaper. However, Kenya is one of Africa's strongest economies, highest developed countries and is easily a strikingly beautiful place to visit. In fact I've found that you can often see very far across the landscapes which just make Kenya look extraordinary large to me! And it is in fact a large country with an abundance of wildlife and tourist attractions. Do you like the beach? Great, there's plenty of it. Do you like hiking? No problem, Kenya has it in excess. Do you want city life? Please check out the stores, clubs, restaurants, markets, cinemas and parks of Nairobi. Do you want culture? Dive into more than 40 different tribes. Safari? You've got it!! Hakuna matata.
The Boma seen from the Boma Inn. www.theboma.co.ke
Since my fiancée boarded her flight back to Denmark last Sunday, I have checked out of the luxurious Boma and into the neighboring Boma Inn. The Boma Inn was the first hotel which the Kenya Red Cross built around 16 years ago. All profits fund the Kenya Red Cross so that's quite clever. I've generously been offered a room for a week, but it might be a lot harder to stay next week as December is approaching! Apparently Kenyans are quite ordinary people most of the year. Kenyans have families, hobbies, play games, update Facebook, get stuck in traffic, go to work, study and all that ordinary stuff we share with the rest of the planet. BUT: Then December comes!!! I've been told that Kenyans save up all year for December, when they apparently go bonkers for a month and spend all their money?!? So that's going to be interesting! That could also mean that the Boma and Boma Inn might get fully booked. And that would actually be great news which I'll explain in a bit.
Kenya Red Cross ambulances and the lovely Noellah. www.redcross.or.ke
Live morning TV on K24 with the lovely Amina.
The Kenya Red Cross is something of an anomaly within the world of the Red Cross Red Crescent. It's immensely powerful and extraordinarily active throughout the East African region and especially in Kenya. To give an example (apart from the 2 impressive hotels) Kenya Red Cross runs Africas second largest privatized ambulance service! I've seen the call center and it's really quite impressive. Something interesting came to mind as I was learning about maintenance: The Red Cross ambulances are well equipped and routinely get replaced after 150,000km (93,000mi). Since I left home in 2013, the Saga has brought us across more than 151,450km (4 continents). Maybe it's time for me to get replaced ;) That distance is somewhere between 3-4 times around the planet and we've still got 82 more countries to cover. I'm so exhausted...on that note this is the Friday blog and it's Saturday while I write it. I've got no real excuse for delivering a day late except for being tired. To use a Lord of the Rings reference I could say: "I feel like butter spread over too much bread..."
The Red Cross Shinda washinde lottery show.
At times I do wonder if I've bitten off more than I can chew? Simply getting from country to country would appear to be more than enough for anyone. Adding the social media and the Red Cross doesn't make it easier. And the mental toll is hard to escape. I need a new firm landmark for the Saga to boost my spirits: I need to leave Africa successfully.
Friday evening traffic in Nairobi.
But here we still are, and it's truly a magnificent continent, which I would give an arm and a leg to return to someday. I've hardly seen a fraction of the continent although we've partially seen 45 of its countries. The diversity is staggering and I sense that I'll be defending that for the rest of my life. I'm no fan of pan Africanism although I clearly seen certain trades and trends transcend the continent. Just as I see humanity and culture transcend the 121 countries we've covered so far. Thank you for being a part of it. The Saga would be something else without you. And that's the truth.
Maersk Line in Nairobi. Amazing atmosphere! www.maerskline.com
Last night I was invited to join a family celebrate Shabbat. That's a Jewish tradition and I'm always open to learn new things. In terms of religion I've covered a lot of christian denominations already. Especially throughout the Caribbean I was invited to church a lot. In Greenland I joined Jehovahs Witnesses at their Kingdom Hall. In Sierra Leone I attended a Muslim wedding. In Nigeria I enjoyed experiencing a Pentecostal Church. Last night was really pleasant. It was Devorah who reached out to me on Facebook. She is married to Steve who works for Maersk. I accepted the invitation and did some research on what one could expect from taking part in the Shabbat. As it turns out there are millions of ways to be Jewish and we didn't follow all the traditions I had been reading about, but we did follow some. And I got to wear a yamaka aka yarmulke aka kippah aka "skullcap. It's like a tiny soft hat to cover your skull if you're a man. The lights were lit, the children were blessed, we broke bread and had a great time together. The food was fantastic and Devorah and Steve had also invited some friends and neighbors to join the table so conversations were plentiful.
I have reached season 5 of the Sopranos. It's a great way for me to take my mind off things.
I've really seen and experienced a lot of our world. And while I haven't seen it all, I've seen enough to wonder why we tend to focus so harshly on our minor differences when we have clearly got so much in common?
I guess I think too much. Or maybe I do not think enough? Or..? ;)
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - thinking!
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
ONCE UPON A SAGA