Rock-A-By Sleeping

Sleeping for me was heavenly, with the motion of the train. Sometimes when it stopped is when I woke up. There were barrels of fumes pouring through our open window, some from our train, but others presumably from the blackened out scenery we were passing. The only hardship was having to get up in the night to use the bathroom at the end of the hall. First and second class rooms were advertised with full in-room toileting facilities. We did have a sink.

By 7am, we heard the breakfast bell being rung in the hall, reminding us to make our way to the restaurant car. First a server came around and served everyone toast, then the next one returned with a plate already containing two fried eggs, baked beans, a sausage, and fried tomato, all very British. 

At 10:15am, we heard the announcement that we were approaching Nairobi train station. How quickly we had forgotten that Nairobi is colder than Mombasa or anywhere in Tanzania. We had to show our ticket to leave the station where we were flooded with offers for taxis. One man kept pace with us, though we had been warned about hucksters, I felt for him. He was older and missing a few teeth, but looked sincere enough. I asked if he were licensed and he was. We asked the price to take us to our accommodation, which is the Milimani Backpackers Lodge. He quoted 300 shillings (3 euros), so we went and hoped that he was indeed licensed and would not take us for a ride we did not expect. Solomon was his name and he was on board. We arrived at our less than luxurious place within fifteen minutes. He was so grateful for the work, he asked for us to please remember him when we needed a taxi. We wrote his number down for reference.

The Milimani Backpackers is a weird assortment of places to stay. In the main building are dorm rooms with share showers. Outside there are combinations of little huts that share showers, tents that are permanent, sharing facilities, and little huts that are pre-fab little rooms with en suite bathrooms. This is what we have. It looks like a storage unit that was converted to a sleeping room. 

Next door to the main building is a quasi-restaurant where you can order drinks or food, but a limited menu. The daily special is 350 shillings, but tonight is some unidentifiable fish. After dropping off our things, I wanted to shower, but there was no water. They were having problems with the pump. They said they had WiFi access, but the person with the password was not around. In ten minutes was the repeated mantra. We decided to walk downtown, about thirty minutes walk. After being in Mombasa, I was not as fearful about walking around as I was before, but we did get plenty of stares as we strolled. No one made any comments, but the looks were intimidating at times, especially when we stopped at a bench half way.

Stopping at an Italian restaurant for a drink, I was finally able to try an avocado milkshake. As disgusting as it may sound, it was delicious and refreshing on a warming day. If it were not so filling, I would have had a second one. Ron was on the hunt for this Kenyan singer’s albums (Eric Wainaina) who has gained popularity not only here, but the play he wrote was performed on Broadway. Asking the waiter at the restaurant for music stores, he sent us in the right direction, but no store seemed to have his work. My guess is that most of what they sold were ripped from other albums or downloaded from the Internet and they had not yet had access to his work. They said his work is not widely distributed here in Kenya, but with 2 albums out and his popularity on the rise, it seems strange. One energetic salesman promised to have albums for us if we could give him until the next day. We explained we were taking off for 2 days tomorrow with Kuja Safaris and would return for them on Monday.

Taking a taxi back, there was nothing in downtown to hold our interest, we met Som our driver. He too has two taxis trying to build up business and offered to drive us anywhere any other day if we so needed. He had cards printed up offering everything from taxi rides to marital planning. When we returned to the hostel, they had recovered the password to the WiFi, so I spent the next hour disseminating the spam e-mail from the good stuff, uploading my blog, and reading “The Queen’s Fool” by Philippa Gregory. She is the author of “The Other Boleyn Girl“, which was made into a  movie. It was one of a pile of books that my office mate gave me before the end of the semester. We take books that we don’t think we want to save and then leave them as we finish. I thought this was going to be a desperation book, one that I read when I had nothing better to read, but I am hooked. It is one of those difficult to put down books.  

We stayed here at the hostel for dinner. We both ordered cheeseburgers with fries, which were surprisingly extra tasty. After dinner, we stayed out and read for some time, then retired to our room to read some more. By 10:30, we decided to call it a night, but the people around us were just winding up for the night. The couple right next door to us, an older Italian couple came into their pod and were talking so loudly, we could hear every syllable. It does not seem to matter if we do it the cheap way or the more expensive way, all the walls are paper thin.

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