First impressions of Africa? Looking out the plane window past the runway to warm red hills fading into the morning, a richness in the air, not hot or humid even, just full; full of something else… another world, again, and this one stirred excitement in my chest, like a kind-eyed stranger it wiped away my love-tears and with a wordless wave revealed all the beauty and hope around me. The first words? Not even through the gate, the grinning WC cleaner exclaims “Welcome to Kenya!” with a smile to rival Christmas morning. A subtle request for change? Perhaps, but warm nonetheless. No haggling with the taxi driver, no commission scams in sight. When I finally ask for guest house recommendations he just points out the cheapest and lets me be. Such a friendly guy helps me find my guesthouse, and after initial reservations from the reception my US passport provokes jokes about Obama and “you must take me to America! Problem? You married?”
Rest of the day spent sleeping, thinking of what I’ve left behind, walking the streets and enjoying not getting stared at… when people do look here it’s discrete, with a curiosity and creativity that is… human.
Of course this is Mombasa, the most touristy place that is not Nairobi, but it could not give a better first impression of Kenya. I’m still very pleased Honza is coming, and very curious about this hospital project; I would be quite aimless alone! This first month should be a blast!