Back in April 2015 when a deal appeared on Jet Airways (operated by Etihad Airways) for an amazing $414.00 from New York to Nairobi, Kenya I knew that this opportunity couldn’t be passed up. Having already planned trips for most of the year, 2016 was the only option. My friends and I decided that February would be the best time to go and tickets were quickly booked. I had no idea that $414 would turn into one of the most priceless experiences ever.
When the day came, we were off to New York to prepare for a long flight to Abu Dhabi before heading to Nairobi. Once we safely landed in Abu Dhabi for a 14 hour layover, we checked into a hotel room at the Radisson Blu Yas Island, showered, changed clothes and were off for an evening of fun in the United Arab Emirates. It felt great to be away from the cold as we spent time on the outdoor terrace of Ybar on Yas Island for great food and drinks. Time quickly went by and we called it a night and caught a few hours of sleep.
Once we arrived back at Abu Dhabi International Airport we were well on our way to the Motherland! A quick 4.5 hour flight and we were in Kenya!
We had already completed the E-visa online and were quickly through immigrations as we met up with our driver who would be taking us to our apartment we booked via Airbnb. The apartment was great. We had plenty of space and amenities to guarantee that our stay would be stress free.
The next few days were full of adventure in bustling Nairobi. I had no idea the city would be so busy and filled with nonstop traffic that would put even the worst traffic jam in America to shame on any day. We spent the first day getting settled in, relaxing and enjoying dinner at Amaica, home of Authentic Kenyan Cuisine with a few other travelers who were also in the area. The food was awesome and authentic.
We then spent time hanging in the apartment of some locals before heading out for a night of fun at Kiza Restaurant and Lounge and Brew Bistro and Lounge. Once 4:00 a.m. hit we knew it was time to go and get some rest!
We went back to the apartment for what was supposed to be a few hours of rest before heading back out. Never happened! Before I knew it I was passed out on the couch and being the victim of photos being taken of me sleeping… or “dabbin’” in my sleep as my friends put it.
4:00 a.m. came fast as we spent our next day being picked up and driven about 3 hours near Mt. Kilimanjaro to Amboseli National Park for a full day in the safari! Anxious to spot big animals we could only dream of seeing in their natural habitats, our cameras were on and ready.
Once our day concluded we took what felt like a 6 hour drive back to Nairobi thanks to you guessed it… TRAFFIC and prepared to head right back out for the evening. Dinner was at Caramel and everyone enjoyed their meals. Jet lag was real as I once again fell asleep… at the table. LOL
The next day proved to not only be the most rewarding of all of the days of the trip, but one of the most fulfilling days of my LIFE!
Months prior to visiting, I had heard about a school located in the Kibera area. Kibera is the largest slum in Nairobi and the largest urban slum in all of Africa. The area is filled with extreme poverty, unemployment and crime. Despite being an area of such turmoil and hardship, perhaps the jewel of Kibera is the Cheery Children Education Centre located at Mashimoni. This small educational institution offers humanitarian assistance and care for the needs of poverty stricken children. It is at Cheery, where these children learn the value of family, friendship and education, enabling them a future of endless possibilities while not allowing their past to dictate their future.
Before heading to Cheery, we stopped at a local grocery store and purchased food and cooking supplies as well as toys for the children to enjoy. So many of the small things we take for granted at home are considered a luxury to these children and being able to provide them with even a little meant a lot to the teachers and students. We spent hours at the school talking to the students, sharing hobbies, teaching them new games such as tic tac toe and hangman and even playing with them outside.
There are absolutely no words to describe the feeling I felt while there, or the emotions felt when it was time to leave. It is days like those spent at Cheery that remind me of the simple duties we all have in life to uplift and support our fellow human beings who aren’t as privileged to have the same resources and opportunities as we are.
After leaving Cheery, we headed to the Masaai Market to purchase some souvenirs and other items. This was an interesting experience as we spent the entire time being hassled and bargained with by the merchants and “brokers”.
As our time in Nairobi came to an end, we packed our bags and anxiously awaited the next morning’s flight to Mombasa!