Wednesday, January 2, 2019

All I Wanted for Christmas Was Family

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year to all! I had an extra special holiday season this time around because my mom and sister came all the way to Kenya to celebrate with us. When you live as far from home as we do, you can't take seeing family for the holidays for granted.

They were only here for a short amount of time, and we stayed around Nairobi, so I tried to cram in as much fun into as short a time as possible. The day they arrived, we picked them up from the airport around 4am (those long-haul flights to Nairobi are pretty brutal no matter which route you take). We had a relaxed lunch at the River Cafe in Karura Forest, which boasts tasty food, a peaceful ambiance, and a convenient location. Then, we all had pedicures done by P, my dear friend and nail technician extraordinaire. We swung by Spinner's Web for some souvenirs and then tried the new Village Market location for CJ's restaurant. The menu was huge - it took M and me an embarrassingly long time to decide what to order.

On Christmas Day, my sister and I worked out (mostly because she's an awesome exercise buddy and I would never have been motivated enough to do Pilates Intense Interval Training on Christmas on my own). Then, we went to Nairobi National Park, the Giraffe Centre, and the Karen Blixen Museum. My favorite stop was the Giraffe Center, where we got to feed giraffes from our hands (!) and learn about giraffe conservation efforts. My mom, though, was especially delighted by the visit to the Karen Blixen Museum, devoted to the legendary late Danish settler Karen Blixen, a.k.a. Isak Dinesan, famous for her book Out of Africa and its Hollywood adaptation.

We followed that up with a day trip to Naivasha (fun fact: Karen Blixen honeymooned there), including Crescent Island, Sanctuary Farm, and Hell's Gate. We enjoyed great views of wildlife and landscapes all day. At one point, a baboon even jumped on our car!

The next day, we booked a tour of the United Nations Headquarters in Nairobi - one of only four in the world. (The others are in Geneva, Vienna, and of course New York City.) We took a picture in front of the "Karibuni" sign, which means "Welcome, all" in Kiswahili. I also brought my family to the U.S. Embassy to show them where I work.

Sadly, my mom had to leave right after that. My sister stayed for a few more days, so we went fabric and souvenir shopping in downtown Nairobi with my friend A (the same one who came over and cooked Kenyan food soon after we arrived). We also woke up early and hiked Mount Longonot, got massages at Serenity Spa, checked out a new trampoline park, and volunteered at a local orphanage called Mogra.

I also brought my sister to church and introduced her to some of my friends in Nairobi. We rang in the new year by hosting a laid-back evening with card games. My sis was also kind enough to bring her Nintendo Switch so we could even play some of her video games. Eventually, though, she had to get on a plane to head home, too. I miss my family already, but I'm so glad I got to spend this special time with them. I'll always treasure making these memories and sharing our adventures with people I love so much.

No comments:

Post a Comment