While we were waiting to get on our plane, I wrote the following on Facebook:
But as for me, I guess besides being tired at 2:30 in the morning, I was focused on the first flight which would last 16 hours! Lately we have been flying through Dubai which means you start out with a marathon flight first and then a shorter five-hour flight second. Now, I’m not seeking sympathy here, I just want you to grasp this. For this first flight, you get on the plane at 9:00 in the morning and at midnight that night you are still on the same plane, in the same seat on the same plane, with the same people sitting next to you on that same plane while sitting on that same seat! And when you are 6 feet tall, there’s not a lot of room on that seat on that same plane sitting next to those same people where you are sitting from nine in the morning until after midnight! Oh, and then there is a plane change and then another flight! Okay, so now it’s different people, but it sure feels like the same seat and plane for another five hours.
So, enough about flying.
We planned a day in Nairobi just to adjust to the time change and rest ourselves before the marathon of 7 conferences in 4 weeks in 4 countries begins. So far so good.
We have traveled, now, to this part of Africa so often that many of the things that use to seem so unusual now feels very commonplace: the pungent smells of city-life-Africa, the traffic that acts like bumper cars, the black exhaust that pours out of many vehicles, the British-accented English, and the obvious lack of white faces (which, honestly, we hardly notice anymore). There are also the many pleasantries that we now take for granted: the smiling faces, the hearty welcomes even from strangers, and the hard-to-explain sense that we are somewhere that we belong.
Still, this is Africa and things take place that we just don’t expect. This morning, on our way to our local coffee shop and internet café, a man was laying face up on the sidewalk, barely moving, with foam coming out of his mouth—an apparent seizure. What’s difficult is that many people were walking around him not because they didn’t care but because they did not have the means to help him. One can’t just call 911 and expect that “someone” will just take care of this so, not having the ability to pay for his care (which is what it would require to get him help), many people don’t know what else to do but leave him. This is not a judgment, just the reality for many people who are in survival mode. Brooks and I didn’t know how to help him either except to look for a local police officer and find out what might be available.
Fortunately, by the time we walked down one block and back looking for help, a group of good citizens did come to his aid. And, just to be clear, most people here will give their very last dime, IF they have one, to help their neighbor in need knowing that their neighbor will do the same in turn. But, I think you get the picture that things are just different where the resources are scarcer… and that’s Africa.
Welcome to our journey!