Diary of an Adventure

Nairobi Adventure

Airport in Juba packed with well dressed families waiting for the flight to Khartoum. Surrounded by bags of toys, food, and flat screen TV’s. Not much confidence being expressed in the politicians ability to sort out the mess that is South Sudan.

I felt enormously relieved to be on the flight. The weight of a zillion years left behind at the bottom of the staircase.

For all that, there is something unreal about sitting next to the swimming pool in Nairobi. With the sound of falling water, a glass of red wine that tastes excellent. My hands clean. The table free of dust and the heady scent of golden shower filling the air.

I feel totally disconnected with the reality of Juba, with its unnerving threat that seems to permeate the pores of our lives there. Visible, but unavoidable. This while dealing with those who aren’t there. Or haven’t been there. That seem drawn to it. Hard to explain. Impossible to understand.

I know this is what we do. It defies logic.

The United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON), is a massive campus of trees, parks, buildings and perfect people. Intoxicating in its perfection, the line of flags that funnel a cavalcade of diplomats to the entrance. Chocolate box perfect. The cafe’, its elegance matched by the presentation of my cappuccino. The art on the walls, no less powerful than a Diego mural, the idealism of the UN.

Days filled with meetings. Discussions. Plans made. Discarded. Of importance, time spent with South Sudan staff who are currently working from Nairobi.

Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

Oil on Linen 35cmx50cm

I have too much stuff!!! Certainly not the backpack it should be. Granted, my painting bits are a fair amount of it, however there still seems to be a bunch of bits. Not that I managed to throw any of it away in the move across from the apartment to the house at the UN compound, Juba 3. A bunch of new security after the Mogadishu bombing.

I have set up the studio on the enclosed patio, with a fan to make it bareable. The temperatures under the metal roof are ugly. Painting at first light a must. I have my light stand for working in the evening if I can.

The various bits are unpacked, the Nespresso operational, there is red wine and cheese for dinner, my jogging route measured, the shower is hot, and I even have my own gecko! No linen as yet, so I’m using my sleeping bag liner. Haven’t figured the setting on the aircon.

‘Irises’, a painting from one of the many gardens in Japan. Nothing fancy, a bunch of purple smeared around the canvas, creating an undemanding, restful, painting.

A quick hop across to Nairobi for meetings. The trip through the city to Tribe no less harrowing for its familiarity. Nairobi also gave me the chance to get linen for my bed at Juba3, as well as few necessary supplies, such as cheese. After lunch with Chiba, I stumbled across a deli called Prime Cut at the Village Market. Splendid! Mature cheddar packed for its journey across to Juba Town.

As I was concerned that with my early departure to get ahead of the traffic, I would leave it in the hotel fridge, I parked my shoes at the fridge as a reminder. I was ready to head out the door and only when I turned to find my shoes did I remember the cheese. The affects of the wine from the dinner we had??

At the office in Nairobi, I bumped in Simonetta who I had last seen in Kabul. With Gerard in there for a course and Chiba, on route to Canada, we managed a lively, fun evening, not bothering to solve anything.

I have changed my exercise schedule, as getting in a jog before heading to the office was uncomfortable given the need to leave early to be across town ahead of the traffic. A bit nuts trying to squeeze everything into the first 2 seconds of the day. For now, the early evenings are cool and there are no traffic issues running the circuit around the compound.

The fairies have been to clean the place.

Diary of an Adventure

Nairobi Adventure


Tribe hotel Nairobi

Kenya, the iconic acacia trees against dark storm filled skies, lifting spirits, imagination as wide at the savanna.

The traffic is Nairobi is either stopped, or racing. At ridiculous speeds, through the streets to get involved – as rapidly as possible – in the next traffic brawl. Pedestrians charge across the three lanes, momentary shadows in the headlights. I was wrecked by the time we arrived at the very smart and comfortable hotel, Tribe. My room is luxurious, if affected by traffic noise.

I have no idea where I am actually in the city, other than close to the UN and the US Embassy. The hotel is full of Americans! Met Mr Bruce and a bunch of the managers for dinner at a long table in the lounge area to catch up and start the discussions that will dominate the week.

Security checks at the entrance to the hotel and its neighboring shopping centre, a reminder of the tension caused by the ongoing intervention in Somalia.

Dinner at a Thai restaurant, some twenty minutes drive from the hotel into the suburbs of Nairobi. The menu was extensive with some interesting choices, with a random selection for the bunch of us, which included sushi; a green chicken Thai curry;a shredded lamb dish; noodles and rice. Far too much food, which was very good if a tad spicy. A fleet of taxi’s brought us back to the hotel around eleven.

At the hotel, there was the opening of an exhibition of art, which included paintings and photographs. They had digital panels that showed the art on display in other rooms, which was innovative. The most interesting to me was the depiction of wild animals, almost like block print, but paint in primary colours on gold foil, by Alexandra Spyratos.

Grey and wet. Not that it disrupted my sleep! Too much wine???

I met Trevor and Rob, whom I haven’t seen since Afghanistan days, at a restaurant called Seven, in the Village. Bruce joined us after a bit. We have all changed, but not really. As expected the chat covered everything, and somewhere along the way, I think we decided that world peace wasn’t in our best interest. Although it would be great if the next war, or disaster, wasn’t in such lousy places.

Although they advertise themselves as sea food specialists, they have great steaks. My fillet on the bone was excellent. I did find that the butter medallion was too rich, and I couldn’t mange the marrow bit that came with the steak. Broccoli added some sanity to the dish. Belleruche Cotes Du Rhone, a smooth red, perfect.