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Friday, May 23, 2008

In Kenya!

After a very long but pleasant journey, I arrived in Kenya on Wednesday night, 9:00pm local time. By the time I passed through customs, retrieved my luggage and found my way to the hotel (long story but my shuttle driver was nowhere to be found!) by 10:30pm. the room is quite comfortable aside from not having and AC! It is actually very pleasant at night and early in the morning, however, I hesitate to open the sliding door because there is no screen! I am extremely afraid of the dreaded mosquitos as they seem to have a field day on me back home. I have been assured by many that they are only active here at night, and even then are not bad in Nairobi but it still gives me the heebie jeebies! I have been getting more brave though and I sit now next to the open door working, updating this blog and converting notes from yesterday. But I'm getting ahead of myself!
I settled in to the room, had some room service dinner and got some much needed sleep!

On Thursday I reluctantly dragged myself out of bed because my body has no idea what time it really is, I just knew it was time to get out and see this country! I spent a wonderful day with Catherine's husband, Anthony as my guide, driver, comedian and companion! He is VERY well known around here (and that is an understatement!) I jokingly refer to him as Moses as everywhere we went people parted and made way for him to park, enter, walk, whatever! He is quite charming and often flashes his "pearly whites"; an expression he was not familiar with and one I tried my best to explain (ahhh, the art of advertising!)

He took me to meet some key people who I want to interview for the film. They were all too happy to comply as they had nothing but amazing things to offer about Catherine and you could genuinely see how these people feel about her. I learned many new things and Anthony was amazing! He is outgoing, friendly and was able to arrange meetings with everyone he contacted.

After we finished speaking with people, we braved the Nairobi traffic. I can say with much certainty that I have now found a place where the roads are even worse than New Jersey and the drivers far outshine them in their craziness! (sorry any jerseyites!) The roads in Nairobi are just circles the feed into more circles, noone observes the few traffic lights that are there and they drive with reckless abandon worthy of any film you have ever seen with crazy driving! Fortunately, Anthony is no stranger to navigating this mass confusion and we arrived safely at Nakumatt which can safely be described as a cross between a 24 hour Wal-Mart and Costco! I purchased a local cell phone so I could finally communicate with people I need to meet with. We drove to a lookout spot so I could see an overview of Nairobi which was really nice.

We then went to Catherine and Anthony's home in Karen which can only be described as incredibly amazing! The living room was grand with four large extremely soft leather sofas and two oversized, matching leather chairs. I had a serious struggle to stay awake it was so comfortable! However, the focus of the room is definitely the multiple showcases that display Catherine's many trophies, awards, photos and memorabilia of her ongoing career. Included in this was a photo at the White House with the Bushs where she actually sat with President Bush at a state dinner!

Anthony and I enjoyed "kitt cakes" which were a cross between a muffin and cupcake and Kenyan tea. Most people know that I do NOT like tea, however, this tea was far from like any tea I have ever had! It had a bit of sugar stirred into it and some milk. It smelled so different from any tea I had ever had. To be fair, I have never had milk in my tea but somehow I still don't think it would be the same. I expressed my like for the tea above any I had ever had and was told it was probably because the milk was fresh from their cow out back. I laughed at first until I realized that this was not a smart joke but there actually IS a cow out back! Catherine is very proud of this cow and I can certainly see why! The tea smelled different and tasted different because of this milk! The milk was so rich it was almost like cream! I came to learn that Catherine is quite the little farmer as well. I did not get to visit her garden because it was dark but I hope to see it soon! She grows everything from potatoes and carrots to corn and spinach!

Catherine came back from her afternoon training run and joined us for tea and kitt cakes along with her sister, Anastasia and Anastasia's 11 month old daughter who is just adorable!

She is just learning to walk and has the most pleasant disposition!

After Catherine and Anastasia showered and we visited for a bit, we all got into the car and too Anastasia to her home which is in the lower part of the Rift Valley. It was amazing to drive on these bumpy, unpaved roads. The roads that were not full of bumps had giant speed bumps every 1/4 mile or so to keep people from speeding. When we turned off of the main road towards Anastasia's house, you literally drive over 5mph because the road was so bumpy and irregular! After we dropped her and the baby off, we stopped for dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant called Mediterraneo (same name as one near me back home!) We all had excellent grilled talapia with grilled veges. We stopped at Nakumatt once again on the way back to my hotel so I could buy a case of bottled water. It was an amazing day but felt good to be back at the room as we were all exhausted!

One of the things that struck me the most throughout the day was how many people were out walking on the roads! Even when it was pitch dark outside with no streetlights, there were people walking to or from somewhere. There were even little marketplaces still open along the way.

Today I have appointments to see many of the production companies/people that I have been in touch with. The sky is very cloudy but it is pleasant outside.

I will upload some photos as soon as I have time to figure out how to do it!

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