Welcome to Kenya, You Are Under Arrest

Sam Hayes before her run-in with police.
Sam Hayes before her run-in with police.

Welcome to Kenya, you are under arrest. That's how our first few moments unfolded after landing in Nairobi.

My cameraman Hayden Aull had found our bags and cleared Customs. We were waiting for our driver to arrive at the airport terminal when a policeman approached us. He told Hayden he would be spending the night in a cell.

A set of new rules imposed when US President (and half Kenyan) Barack Obama had visited the country a couple of weeks ago were behind Hayden's imminent incarceration. In an effort to tidy things up a bit, smoking had been relegated to certain zones. Hayden’s cigarette outside the terminal wasn’t in one of them.

Hayden seemed relaxed. I was suppressing an urge to panic. The police officer wasn’t backing down, repeating his threat that Hayden was going downtown for the night. Thankfully, our pre-arranged driver and his two friends managed to draw him to one side and talk him out of it.

We scampered to the car park and found three giraffes languidly walking through the low lying scrub in the reserve next to the airport. They were quite far away but giraffes are unmistakable and hard to miss. Hayden reckons he could see five but I’m sticking with three.

If we’d thought our journey was over, we were wrong. There were still a couple of hours on Nairobi’s bumpy red earth roads to go to get us to our final destination in Nakuru.

We passed the Kibera slum on the outskirts of the city, the biggest slum in Africa; a patchwork of mismatched sheets of corrugated iron, dodgy power lines and interestingly, large round buildings dotted throughout. Our Kenyan driver, Michael, hadn’t been into Kibera. It wasn’t safe, he said.

The Kibera slum.

We kept driving past the people walking for miles next to the highway, seemingly in the middle of nowhere but in between one place and the next, donkeys tethered by the hoof nibbling the grass verge, small children following small herds of goats, the occasional lone cow and stalls of the aforementioned goats predecessor’s skins cured on wooden rails for sale with matching hats better suited to a winter in Russia.

The Rift Valley unfurled to our left but the sun was setting and it was hazy so we didn’t see much.

We had made it to the lodge by Elementaita Lake, where pink flamingos used to live. They’ve moved on but we stayed. I took a malaria pill and went to sleep under a mosquito net.

Sam Hayes is travelling courtesy of Trilogy.