vrijdag 8 mei 2015

Update after a year...

Some of us have been able to meet each other after the CSC assignment. It's been a year since we first met at Riverside Apartments in Nairobi. The new CSC cycle has started, so a short update on meeting old friends.

Last weekend (May 2015), Luke and I met in NY while I was there with my family. Picture is taken in Brooklyn, NY. 

Luke, Alex, Thomas, and Matthijs

Earlier in the year, Ulla-Britt came to IBM Amsterdam for education. So she had dinner at my place. 

Earlier in 2014, Ulla-Britt and her husband were in Amsterdam for the Marathon of Amsterdam. We went to dinner in an Ethiopian restaurant - a bit of an African feeling. 

But the first I saw after our stay in Nairobi was Heli. She was on business trip in Amsterdam, during the World Championship soccer. We watched the game and had dinner at our place.

zondag 8 juni 2014

Going home

Last day.

The day started with an early safari. It rained and we did not see much, except for some zebras and gazelles hiding from the rain. Our guide Joseph tried to find us some elephants as we had not seen any of them in the Mara. But apparently the elephants were hiding in the bushes. Maybe it was good to end our last day this way so that we could leave in peace.

During the day, the weather cleared. The small aircraft took us back to Wilson airport. Beautiful view of the Nairobi skyline.

And then the problems started... Our plane left the Mara an hour earlier than planned. Arriving at the Wilson airport at 5 instead of 6 pm, no taxi waiting for us although I had informed about the earlier arrival time. 

The deal was that JimCab would collect my suitcase from Riverside Pearl Apartments and come to Wilson airport to pick us up and take us to Kenyatta airport. Finally after many calls and text messages, a taxi came at almost 7 pm without my other luggage... I said a very ugly word. 

We got into this taxi and I started calling and texting again. Another taxi would go to the apartment, get my stuff, and drive to Kenyatta instead. I was getting stressed. Traffic was horrible and worse than we ever had before (well, except for the Friday evening it took us 2 hours to get to Carnivore). Taxidriver understood the stress and tried to get us as quickly as possible to Kenyatta airport. In the meantime, messages were sent at 8 pm to me asking where my luggage could be at Riverside. They could not find it! ARGH... I had left notes and everything at the reception!

Finally I got confirmation that the bags were in a taxi with driver Paul and on their way. Our flights were at 22:30 (Mark) and 23:25 (me). Check-in at least 2 hours in advance. Rain pouring down heavily at the airport. This is the view from my position - watching to see if a taxi would arrive with the bags:

Because of the separate flights, Mark had to go to another terminal for check-in. Luckily the Kenyan people are nice and they allowed him to come back outside to wait with me. And after a while, I also asked British Airways what to do. They told me to check-in and then I could drop my bags (if they got here on time) the latest 1 hour before take-off. All scenarios were considered: what if the bags are late? Shall I leave and request that they are sent on a next flight? Can I do that? Or should I wait and thus miss the my flight?

At almost the last second, my taxi arrived. Yeah!

I quickly had to rearrange my stuff because of the 23 kilo limit per bag and then dumped them at the drop-off point. Ran through security and just enough had time to see Mark board the KLM flight from gate 9.

Bye Kenya! It's been a real pleasure living here for a month. But now time to go home to my husband and kids.
#ibmcsc kenya 

Tourist time

My last week in Africa: vacation time!

Weekend in Nairobi
Saturday and Sunday were spent in Nairobi. We have been in Kenya before, but had seen Nairobi only at night when we arrived and in the early morning when we drove to the first national park. So this time, the planning for Saturday included the Giraffe Center, Karen Blixen Museum, restaurant Tamambo near the museum for lunch, and a quick stop at the IBM Lab just to take a picture.

Dinner was at the Abyssinia restaurant in Westland with Andrea and Jeroen, resp. journalist and photographer from the Netherlands traveling across Africa for the last 3 years. Very nice to see them here in Nairobi and to talk about the country, the continent, their experiences, and all. Food was excellent as well and very affordable!

The next day we went to the Masai Market at Yaya shopping centre. We were the only potential customers and this drove us nuts. All the sellers were asking us to check their products and to buy stuff. Normally the sellers can approach other customers as well, but now all arrows were pointed at us. Lunch was at the Yaya centre: pizza at the Italian.

After lunch we went home. Time to start packing. I would leave my big suitcase at the Riverside Pearl apartment and thus having to sort my "safari" cloths & necessities. No more business suites needed in the next few days. 

On advice of Andrea and Jeroen, we decided to go first to the Junction Mall which has one of the largest supermarkets Nakumatt. Besides browsing the supermarket, we also visited the Kazuri bead shop and bought necklaces for our mothers. 

We wanted to have diner at the Brew Bistro, which is close to the Junction Mall. But Google maps told us it would be more than 3 kilometers... which was strange. But anyway, we called a taxi and waited for half an hour. When the taxi arrived and dropped us within 3 minutes at the Brew Bistro (because it was about 600 meters!), I was very glad to see that our taxi driver found it funny as well.

Safari in the Masai Mara
Below you can see our plane with the red nose. We were the only passengers both ways, so it was like having a private plan. I can get used to that!

Some of the highlights of our stay in the Mara. First of all to see the rhinos while standing next to them. Of course the picture does not show the 10 security guys standing between us and the two rhinos. These are the only ones living in this part of the Mara and they are well guarded.

No exactly the view from our tent number 20 but if we went to tents 16 and 17 (unoccupied), this is the view of the hippos. They woke us up each morning around 4 when they return from the grazing in the Mara and start making a lot of noises.

No picture of the leopard (it was getting dark, so my iPhone was not able to take a decent picture). But we saw it! And also this pair of cheetah brothers. One day in the late afternoon, they were walking towards wildebeests but unfortunately they were not making a move and just kept walking. Would have been great to see them run.

zaterdag 31 mei 2014

Pole pole

Relaxing weekend in Nairobi... 

Husband has arrived and he joined us for dinner at Carnivore last night. And this morning, most of the team left for the Masai Mara, other destinations in Africa, or home. So time for goodbyes, hugs, and kisses.   :o(

We'll stay in the city until Monday morning. Today we visited the Giraffe Center, the Karen Blixen museum, and lunch at Tamambo including Tusker beer (plus a quick retour to see the IBM Lab which is in the neighbourhood). Of course accompanied by our own taxi driver Ephantus. Costs were a bit higher than expected, but it was a 5,5 hour tour. The Masai market is on the agenda for tomorrow. Maybe also the Nairobi National Museum.

But for now... just sit on the balcony, read a book. Pole pole (= take it easy...)

#ibmcsc kenya 

donderdag 29 mei 2014

Final presentation

Planning for today:
  • Taxi at 8 am to bring us to KICC VIP lounge
  • Final presentation for WEF and IBM teams at 9:30
  • Lunch at 12:00 arranged by WEF
  • Taxi to IBM at 13:30
  • Meeting at IBM at 14:30
  • Return home, relax, start packing
  • Celebration dinner at 19:00 at Carnivore
Besides of course the completion of the CSC assignment and doing the final presentation for our client, the other BIG highlight will be that my husband Mark arrives this morning in Nairobi. A taxi will take him to our apartment building and then later today, we'll see each other again after 4 weeks. 

#ibmcsc kenya 

Count Down

Yesterday we had our last working day at WEF in their offices. We have spent here many days doing interviews, reading the material, rehearsing our mid term review, etc. And now it's done, over. On Facebook there was an entry for the new Nigeria team who are about to leave for their assignments. I wish I was in their shoes again. 

WEF gave us some very great gifts. I will share pictures later. Ulla-Britt already mentioned that she would like to take WEF, our team, and this work to Stockholm so that we can remain together. I agree...

To share our experiences, a few office pictures.First lunch at restaurant Originelle:

Whenever possible, we like to sit outside.  

 And our office. A map of the country with all the financial partners per region on the wall. On the screen you can see one of the slides about Capacity Building: the WEF Officers spend a lot of time on debt collection, which is good as the money will have to be repaid. But at the same time, these officers have a target to train 2.500 women each year. One of our recommendations is about balancing their time on such activities.

Last selfie at the NSSF building:

And a picture of one of the security guys. Such friendly people. At the gate, one of them always makes the same joke when he sees us. That it's not "Women Enterprise Fund" but "We men Enterprise Fund" and that the women are trying to take everything away from the men. We all laugh of course. And he calls me "Holland". Ah well, at least this guy lets us enter the gate so we do not have get out of the taxi on the street and then walk a long way through another building including additional checks. Once we had to check-in our laptops in that first building, writing down the machine type, serial number, etc. We never checked-out...

#ibmcsc kenya 

zondag 25 mei 2014