A really neat component of Global Health Corps is that every fellow is allowed up to $600 to use on professional development. I used the first part of my professional development funds to purchase Rosetta Stone Hindi so I could learn a new language in all of my free time. For the second half of my professional development funds, I decided to visit Rwanda so I could learn more from the placement organizations fellows are working at there and see another part of the continent. I convinced Mwansa to join me, and on our way to Rwanda we took a crazy 18-hour layover in Nairobi, Kenya and it was a blast.
We landed in Nairobi at 6am (though it was really 5am Zambian time) and made our way through customs until we found ourselves outside on Kenyan soil. My good friend, Shamira, from university is living in Nairobi and helped us arrange a driver, whom we found waiting for us patiently at the airport gates.
He took us to the YaYa Center, where we had to go through security before entering the shopping center – this is something we are definitely not accustomed to in Zambia. We had a delicious breakfast and coffee at the Java House and used the high-speed wifi we found there.
Later in the morning, Shamira met us and we all headed to the Giraffe Center run by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife Kenya. This is a delightful sanctuary aimed at providing conservation education for youth in Kenya. There is a tea house, gift shop, garden areas, and across the way there is a nature trail. The center is currently home to 9 giraffes, which you can view from the viewing deck. Inside you can learn more about animals on the continent and read all about giraffes, and outside on the deck you can feed giraffes. If you’re lucky you may even get a kiss!
I learned more about giraffes here than I ever knew possible, and they really are amazing animals. I highly recommend the Center!
After, we headed back to the Yaya Center to go to the very popular Maasai Market. Our eyes were met with beautiful arrays of colors of bracelets, necklaces, earrings, fabric, slippers, and more. We can get most everything back home in Zambia, but we were specifically looking for the very special Kenyan slippers. Mwansa and I spent a few hours in the market ogling at the trinkets and bargaining as we could. Then we rested in more coffee shops, realizing just how tired we really were.
In the evening, we headed to a delicious Ethiopian dinner. It was Mwansa’s first time trying Ethiopian food, and we mostly enjoyed people-watching as the restaurant filled, comparing what we had seen of Nairobi to Zambia. Shamira joined us for dinner, and we had the opportunity to catch up even more over the past year, since we had last seen each other.
Eventually we headed to the airport, and tucked ourselves in at the terminal for the next 4 hours of our layover. What I saw of Kenya, though through tourist eyes, was really great. I would love the opportunity to explore the country more, in more depth and detail. Though the 18-hour layover was very tiring and a lot, I would still definitely recommend it!