Saturday May 30, 2015 (Africa, Kenya)
We had a grand plan in place. Originally, our next flight on this trip was to Kathmandu, Nepal on June 5th. With all of the recent troubles Nepal has had, we decided it was probably better for us to stay out of the country until things settle down a bit. So we came up with an alternative – India! We were sort of thinking we’d go there anyway, so with this approach we’d just fly straight there. Except as Canadians, we’d need visas.
But that’s not a problem! We’d just head to Nairobi within a week or so of the flight and get everything worked out there, since there’s an Indian High Commission downtown. We calculated out the days required to obtain the visa (five days), and gave ourselves some buffer room – and that’s how we decided when to return to Nairobi!
We were ready to head in to apply on our first morning. We knew we had to fill out and print some online forms and get some pictures done, but that was easy to do before the place closed. Upon closer inspection of the website, however, we discovered that they only accept visa applications between 9:30 and 11:30 in the morning. Sure, they have opening hours way outside of that, but you can’t apply for a visa at those times. No worries, we still had a buffer day, so we get everything ready to head in the next morning.
The next morning, I do another check of the website. After reading more closely (again), I discover that foreign nationals obtaining visas can take “at least” five days. No maximum. Great. Well, we decide to give it a shot anyway.
The process at the High Commission was actually pretty quick. We didn’t wait too long before seeing an officer, and he was very nice. As we completed the process, he was about to give me an estimate of the day we’d have our visa back. Friday, June 5th, of course. That’s the five days, yes? The officer says: “You do know that Monday is a holiday here, right?”. Nope. Didn’t know that. So the five business days we had given are only four. And that ends in a weekend, so another two days disappear. New delivery date is the 8th. Ugh. So now we fly to Chennai, India on June 9th! It’s all ready to go for those of you worried about us flying into Kathmandu. After reading a bunch of articles and trying to determine whether or not it’s safe (and reading pleas from friends and families not to go), we felt it was probably best to give things time to sort themselves out there. Even if Susan Sarandon says otherwise.
We’ve got a great arrangement here in Nairobi. We found a wonderful Airbnb that’s luxuriously large and well-equipped. We’re within walking distance of the downtown area. And most importantly, we’ve managed to meet up with Al and Jazzmin – our friends who are currently living in Nairobi! Last night we went out for some food and dancing, and today for a movie and more eats. They’ve been really awesome about carting us around and spending time with us during our stay. And to top it all off, we took our first Uber ride ever today to get us home to our place and it was fantastic! Way cheaper than taking a taxi and even more convenient! This will definitely be added into our transportation toolkit.
On the positive side of things, there are some attractions here to keep us occupied. A giant national park right outside the city, some animal sanctuaries and other parks. We’ll actually take pictures at some point – we promise. We’re not entirely enamoured with Nairobi (… at all), but having some friends around and things to do definitely makes the wait easier. Sandra’s slightly crestfallen that her birthday will take place here, but hopefully we can put something memorable together. In the worst case scenario, Nairobi has multiple Steers locations so we can gorge ourselves on those caramel sundaes we discovered in South Africa once again! Or twice again.