Notes on Nairobi (10): “Pan” and farewell

Our seventh and last day (Thursday) was a low-key affair. Richard was away in Uganda and in the morning Emily had matters to attend, so Vee and I chilled at the hotel, just packing and reading. We were collected by Emily and Catrin about 12.30 pm and made a return visit to the Westgate Shopping Mall.

After a light lunch, we all went to see a 3D version of the new children’s film “Pan” which offers an interpretation of what might have happened before the Peter Pan story with which we are all so familiar.  Some critics have panned “Pan” but it was enjoyable enough.

Afterwards Catrin visited a play area in the mall with lots of different activities to amuse kids while their parents shop. I talked to the member of staff who was working at the mall when there was the terrible terrorist attack of 2013. She was trapped in the shopping centre for around five hours before she was rescued by the security forces. It was clearly a terrifying experience.

Vee and I returned with Emily and Catrin to the house for some dinner before our evening flight. Most of Catrin’s cuddly toys are still in the UK awaiting shipment to Kenya, so we took her a Paddington bear as one of her presents and this evening we gave her a cuddly penguin as a going away present.  I read her four stories from her new book “The Seven Habits Of Happy Kids” before Vee and I cuddled and kissed her goodbye. It will be months before we see her again.

Kennedy drove us to the airport when we encountered the first rain outside of our sleeping time. We did warn him that, following our visit to a country, there is often an issue and it maybe that the forecasts of heavy rains – occasioned by a seven-year El Nino cycle – will prove accurate.

Our journey took us through one of Nairobi’s many informal settlements (often called shanty towns or slums), a place called Majengo. Kennedy himself – like most urban Kenyans – lives in such an informal settlement and told us of his family’s experience during the post-election ethnic rioting of 2007.  The random shooting was so traumatic for his four children that he sent them away with his wife to the west of the country where he is from. They are still there.

The airport was another new experience. Our hand luggage was searched not once (as in Britain) or twice (as in Ethiopia) but three times. The last time was by British Airways staff themselves (maybe they do not wholly trust Kenyan security). The return flight – an overnight affair- was the subject of even more sustained heavy turbulence that the outward flight.

It has been a very enjoyable and fascinating trip. It was so lovely to see the family again after two months and it will certainly be longer before we see them again. For now, it’s back to Skype.


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