The day finally came and with Fernando, my husband helping me get the luggage into the car, we headed off to O’Hare airport in Chicago. After a long flight from Chicago to Amsterdam then Amsterdam to Nairobi with a layover in between, I finally arrived in Nairobi. The whole journey to reach Nairobi started at 1 pm Chicago time on Saturday and ended at 2 am Nairboi time Sunday! I wasn’t tired a bit-- how could I be? I WAS IN KENYA!!
After a jaunt through Kenyan customs, I exited the airport and saw the Green Belt Movement members, John and Dansai, holding a sign welcoming me. John, a dedicated and knowledgeable man is the director of tree planting for the organization, and Danis, a strong, and funny man who was Wnagari Maathau’s former driver. Both of them entertained me with stories about planting trees and memories of Wangari Maathai while we waited for another member of our group to be arriving from Doha.
With John and Danis’ help, we found another person in our group and then headed off to where we would stay for the next 2 days at Cycads suites, which is in a suburb of Nairobi close to the Green Belt Movement Center. A cycad is a type of palm tree, and this hotel had several mature ones on its grounds. Although it was in the dead of night, I looked outside the car window and saw Nairobi pass by. My first impression was that even at this late hour, the whole city is filled with green, lush vegetation-- everywhere!
Even though when I arrived at Cycads suites way past 3 am in the morning, Al our guide and leader of our educational trip, greeted us as if it wasn’t in the middle of the night. “Try to get a couple of hours of sleep. Tomorrow, we head off to the Green Belt Movement Center! Breakfast is at 7:30,” he said.
We said goodnight and I entered my suite, there was a small kitchenette where the hotel staff left me Kenyan tea and coffee. The bedroom had was immaculate and the bathroom a warm shower.
A couple of messages through WhatApp later, I took a long shower and then crawled into bed, happy and blessed. Before I fell asleep, I thought about how grateful to be on this journey to Kenya, to be walking in the footsteps of one of my heroes, Wangari Maathai.