I fought the law… and I won

So it is safe to say I had my first true African experience this morning. On my way to Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi my taxi driver was pulled to the side just outside of the entrance. I figured due to the increased tension in East Africa right now that this was a routine random check. 4-5 police officers surrounded the car. One reviewed his stickers on the car and another took his ID and other forms of proof that he was in fact legit. Another officer came by my window and tapped on it. The window didn’t work so I opened the door. He asked me…wait no, he actually TOLD me I wasn’t wearing my seat belt so he would have to take me down to the police station where I would have to pay a fine.

I told him I could not as I had a flight to catch in 2 hours. He wasn’t very confident in demanding that I get out of the car so I took it that he only wanted a bribe from me. I reached into my pocket and pulled out $5 USD. His eyes lit up and helped himself inside the taxi to finish the deal. After I was ready to hand it to him one of the other officers said something to him in swahili and he immediately got out of the car and my driver was given the OK to continue on.

Well, apparently I handled the situation well. I took the bribe money and held it in the air and told him he could have it and in doing this it caused civilians, other officers and his BOSS off in the distance to see it so they told him to not take it. My driver said it wasn’t that they didn’t want him taking my bribe but it was too blatent and they could have gotten in a lot of trouble.

So, my first dealing with corrupt officials ended well for me. I have to admit after that I was feeling very confident in my travels.

Not so fast though.

I arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this afternoon. I don’t want to post too much because I haven’t really had a chance to explore the city and want to give it a fair shot. Tomorrow is Christmas day so I decide to use it as another travel day and will be heading north to Lake Tana and the town of Bahir Dar by hired vehicle. I won’t be back to Addis for a little while.

Kenya Dig it?

Yes, corny puns are still allowed while I’m blogging.

Well, I made it. After 20+ hours in airports and to back-to-back 8 hours flights I finally arrived in Nairobi, Kenya last night at about 9pm GMT+3 (which I imagine is about 11am EST give or take) on 1/4.

The flight was as good as I could have expected and I was highly impressed with NWA/KLM. I finally got to watch “The Departed” which was very good. Our route from Amsterdam took us over north Africa. For awhile I went to the back of the airplane and stared out the window. As we passed over parts of southern Sudan you could see large gatherings of some sort of human development as well as herds of animals. It was quite the surreal experience watching The Office and The Simpsons on the airplane while we were flying over Darfur.

Let me just go on the record and say, I was a FREAKING mess when I arrived in Nairobi. The hostel I booked online in advance that was supposed to pick me up wasn’t there, or at least I couldn’t read my name on any sign. Then when I tried to get a taxi it seemed that no one had ever heard of the place and stupid me left the address for the place at home. Fortunately there was a nice girl that helped me out and found me a hotel in the city center. It was a bit more expensive than the one I had booked but I really needed the rest since sleeping on the airplane was impossible.

After falling asleep to some weird Philippine soap opera that was dubbed in English, I woke up at 5:30a to sports news. For anyone interested, Kenya cares about the NBA because there was a news bit on the Heat game last night since Pat Riley took some time off.

So, today is going to be a lazy day. I am probably going to walk around a bit and take in Nairobi since this is my only day here. I am not sure when the next time I will get to a computer will be so check back for updates. I fly to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia tomorrow afternoon.