Welcome to Kenya

The airport in Nairobi is very close to a nature reserve, so as the plane began to descend, it was amazing to look out the window and see a few zebras and giraffes grazing on the bush below us. It was beautiful, different from any landscape I had seen before.  It felt like we were going to get off the plane and go straight on a safari.

Reality was a little different.  The plane stopped near the terminal and we waited while a set of stairs was brought over so we could get off the plane.  It was a beautiful day, sunny and bright and warm.  I couldn't wait to stretch my legs and walk around after the long flight from Europe.  I knew that Jim Brown would be meeting us at the airport and was eager to see a friendly face and start our new adventure.  I was also a little nervous about going through customs, since I had never done that before and knew so little about the process. 

What a shock I got when I reached the bottom of the steps off the plane.  There stood a row of uniformed soldiers, armed with really big guns, staring straight ahead, very solemn in the warm sunshine.  What a welcome. My stomach did several flip flops. Oh, no.  All I could think was, "what have we gotten ourselves into?  A country that greets tourists with guns?"   I still don't really understand what the message was supposed to be.  That we were safe?  That we had better be careful?  That they were watching us?  What I do know is that it didn't make me feel any better about going through customs!

Tom and I had applied for a 3 month tourist visa.  We wanted to arrive in Kenya as soon as possible and the church there was just getting started, so it wasn't a registered entity yet.  We were hoping Tom would be able to make contacts and get a job soon after we arrived.  We reasoned that we were moving to a third world country and there would probably be a need for pharmacists.  (We had so much to learn!)  We did know we wouldn't be allowed into Kenya if we didn't have an onward ticket.  Since we didn't plan on returning to the states, and to save money when we booked the tickets, we had purchased one way tickets to Nairobi and then on to Ethiopia.  We hoped that would suffice.  I was nervous because I didn't know what kind of questions the customs officer would ask us.  I didn't want to lie and didn't know what to say about why we were visiting Kenya.  So I think I did what most smart wives would do and let Tom do the talking!

The gentleman at the desk was actually very nice.  He thought it was cute that we were newly married and that we were traveling and I don't think he asked very many questions before he stamped our passports and let us in the country!  Yeah!  We had arrived!!

Lori Ziegler4 Comments