Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Smog Birds

I don't think that's Kenya's national bird but it certainly should be Nairobi's.

You arrive at Kenyatta Airport, which is situated about 15 miles out of town. Then, in a rattletrap taxi with a grim-faced driver, its off along the "Uhuru Highway" into the city.

The highway quickly clogs with minibus taxis, private cars, huge four-wheel drives with diplomatic plates, and the weirdest odd-lot of trucks, tanker trucks, pick-up trucks, and what-have-you -- most of them spewing noxious clouds of greasy grey smog.

Strangely, as you come into Nairobi proper, the highway is quicky overarched with trees, their branches studded with the most amazing -- and huge -- birds. They look a bit like storks, certainly that size and with the same sword-like beak and long, spindly legs. They hang around nonchalantly in the branches above this seething cauldron of traffic and exhaust. Sometimes one will lazily take flight, with breathtaking wingspan, and come coasting in to rest on another branch, which bends dangerously down close to the traffic under its weight....

Anyway that's Nairobi so far. I've got a couple of appointments tomorrow and then head down to the coast and Mombasa.