A couple of years ago, I met a woman that wore a pendant of Africa wrapped around her neck. She told me, "my body was born in America, but my heart belongs to Africa". I coud relate, because I felt the same way about India, yet after a couple weeks of being here, I completely understand how Africa stole her heart.Hannah and I arrived to Nairobi, Kenya in the evening of the 27th after meeting a lovely woman on couchsurfers who opened up her home and welcomed us with open arms. Because of the high security in Kenya right now due to the Al Shabaab terrorist attacks, she happily met us at the airport in a taxi to ensure us a comfortable arrival and to get us to her home safely. It was dark, the road was bumpy, and I knew the long-waited adventure was finally here. Her home was modest, on the third floor of an apartment building, a small living room with floor pillows and a table; her kitchen without a refrigerator or oven, a bathroom, and her bedroom with a mosquito net covering her bed. She lived so simply and it amazed me she shared her tiny space with complete strangers during our stay. There's a farmers market across the street, where the locals set up everyday to make their wages selling mangos, bananas, potatoes, and sugarcane. Sanora worked during the days as Hannah and I explored the city of Nairobi, being happily greeted by the locals. "Jambo!" (hello!) or "Mzungu!" (white person!) or "Karibu!" (welcome!) as they greeted conversation to learn about eachother's cultures. Every single person we encountered was so welcoming and interested in our journey to their country. We discussed anything from their families being run out of their homes, to saafari tours and things to do around the city, and answered their questions about whether or not racism and slavery was still prevalent in modern day America. After a couple days of exploring the very westernized city, and knowing that I would be back there to work at the birthing center, we decided to take a nine-hour bus to Mombasa for the New Year. The bus was long, hot, uncomfortable, and crowded - even the breeze that came through the windows seemed to scorch my skin, but once we arrived, I knew I was EXACTLY where I was supposed to be. Just like many things in life, Spirit guided me there to find Backpacker's Nirvana Hostel and the synchronisities cannot be ignored. The hostel host is a Shamanic woman from thee UK who has been running Backpacker's Nirvana in Mombasa for the past five years. We had a deep connection, getting to talk to eachother about healing, nutrition, and how Mombasa has rapidly and drastically changed over the past year into a Muslim run community because of the people of Somalia taking over Kenya. Although the stay was only $13 a night, I was able to trade a couple night's free stay to give Lesley, the host, a Reiki Session. The treatment was profound and she explained how a session has not shifted her like this one did in at least three years. Her body convulsed, she laughed, she cried, and we released some imbalances that had been present for lifetimes. It was a remarkably intense sesssion and I was grateful for the deep levels of healing that took place.
New Year's Eve was spent partying with my new friends from the hostel. The entire house, filled with expats from all over the world, shared an evening filled with stories, cultural diversities, and travel experiences. I wish my travel mate, Hannah, wouldn't have been so sick so she could've shared the experience with us too. We walked to the beach close to midnight to watch fireworks that a nearby hotel was firing and toast the new year. My feet in the beautiful ocean, sharing hugs and glasses of champagne as we brought in 2015...KNOWING that this is going to be an incredible year. My new friend, and bunk mate in the hostel, woke me at 6am so we could watch the sunrise on the first day of the new year and we tiredly scurried to the beach. It was surreal, being in the beautiful country of Kenya, watching the sunrise over the Indian ocean. My entire being beamed as I gazed at this magnificent body of water, filled with colors of emerald, tanzanite, and aquamarine. Her and I went back to the hostel where the rest of the house was starting to stir and I provided some massage to help others bring in their new year and to help me finance my travels. After 4 nights in Mombasa, it was time to start planning for my next destination, Arusha, Tanzania, to visit my dear friend, Kristy.
It was another long, hot, and bumpy ride with a little chaos as we crossed the border into Tanzania. Without having any guidance of what to expect as we crossed the border, it was a bit intimidating. We were let off the bus on the Kenya side, to go to the border control office and show them our passports and as we were inside, the bus left us to cross into Tanzania. Not knowing that it was only heading over to park, my heart began to sputter as I came to the realization that we may have been left behind. Luckily, this was not the case but we were not sure until we walked across the border, in the blistering sun, to find the bus near the offices of the Tanzania border control. Although everyone else only paid $50 for their Visa, once they saw mine and Hannah's US Passports, they charged us $100...and, of course, we weren't prepared for this. They don't take credit cards and we only had 5,000 Kenyan shillings ($50) to pay. We panicked as we realized we may be stuck in Kenya without enough money to cross but I then remembered that I had stashed some American dollars in my backpack. We rushed to our bus to have the driver unload everyone's luggage that was stored under the bus so I could rip through my bag finding what cash may (or may not) remain. I found $200 to cover our overpriced Visa for being American (because ALL Americans are rich, ya know?!), and we were on our way. I'm sure everyone on the bus was annoyed that these American "mzungus" were holding them up on their trip, but eventually we were on our way. Although the bus rides were so uncomfortable, they were beautiful, seeing giraffes, elephants, camels, and ostrich along the way.
Arriving to Arusha, we waited a bit for Kristy to get off work to pick us up and take us to her home. The wonderful thing about friends, sisters, is how you can go for years without staying in touch (or go years living on opposite sides of the world), and pick up right where you left off. We've been spending time with her and her friends, having backyard parties, going to the local hotspots for live music and drinks, and lounging by the pool. Her friends are amazing and proved to me what a small world it really is. Her friend, Andy, grew up in Lake Quivera, a neighborhood only minutes from the neighborhood where I grew up in Kansas. Another friend, born and raised in Eugene, where I have been living for the past eight years. While Kristy and her roomate, AB, go to work, we've been exploring the chaos of Arusha, that is absolute perfection in my eyes. We've taken dala dalas (van taxis) that should fit about 12 people, but tend to carry closer to 18 people, we've chased ATM's around the city...most of them out of cash, we've met the locals, and laughed with children who only know how to say, "How are you?" so they chase us down the streets waving and yelling this repeatedly with smiles on their faces. "Mzungu!" "Mzungu!" The local farmer's market is filled with farmers, artists, and (unfortunately) thieves. It's an amazing city, and I'm trying my best to learn Swahili. I listen attentively as their language rolls off their tongue, picking up the key words, like pole (sorry), asante (thank you), jambo (hello), mambo (what's up), poa (it's cool), and a few others. I admire the women in their katenge, brightly colored fabric with bold patterns, that they wrap around their bodies for dress, tie up their hair with, and use to sling their babies over their shoulders. They sweetly smile, saying "Karibu, sister"(welcome, sister); or when they notice we may be a little stressed from the unfamiliarity, they say, "Hakuna Matata" (no worries). It's a lovely place and I'm blessed to be submerged in it all.
Tomorrow we start our 4 day camping safari, exploring 3 national parks, a traditional Maasai Village, and finding some Tanzanite. Next Thursday, we start our ascent up the tallest free standing mountain in the world. My experiences thus far have livened my spirit, touching pieces of it that have not yet been explored, and has already changed my life and perspective in the most profound ways. Sending you all so much love and gratitude for your support through this trip.
Here's some information to consider for YOUR next big adventure -
*Many American doctors would recommend anti-malarials for trips to places like Africa or Asia. After doing research and realizing the terrible effects these pills have on your body, I have decided to use Neem Leaf tinctures instead. I take 7 drops of neem leaf 3 times a day and it has the same effects on malaria as does the EXPENSIVE and unhealthy pills your doctor may prescribe. Not only does Neem Leaf work as an anti-malarial, but it is also very healthy for your liver and skin, it is anti bacterial, anti fungal, works as a topical treatment for sunburn or bug bites, and has about 49 issues that it covers naturally. I used this my entire time through India and will be using this through my journey. After talking to some locals in East Africa, this is what they choose to use as well.