Kura, the BOMA man, in northern Kenya

I arrived back into Nairobi on Sunday night after a weekend inspecting properties in Nakuru and Naivasha. It was fascinating to see  properties that have sprung up in this region, just two hours from Nairobi,  to service the growing professional middle class. Many of the hotels were family friendly – bouncy castles and pools for the kids and sleek exercise rooms and a cosmopolitan bar scene for the parents.  My room featured a flat screen tv, leather desk accessories and in the bathroom a tub and outdoor shower.  Not quite the romance of safari for the western traveler, but the hotel, like many in the area, was not necessarily seeking out the safari traveler. They were targeting the domestic Kenyan market.

I arrived back in Nairobi in time to unpack, do some laundry in the sink, and repack.  The next morning, Big William picked me up at 6 am.  I caught the 7:30 am flight from Wilson Airport and after a stop in Samburu, landed at the Nanyuki airstrip. There on the railing, handsome and smiling, was Kura.  I pressed my hand to the window of the plane in greeting. Mama Rungu, Mama Rungu. Kura, Kura. Finally, after months of talking by phone, we could talk in person. Kura had already enjoyed a mzungu breakfast at the airstrip café while he waited for me. I was dying for coffee, so before we headed to the BOMA office, we sat and talked.  After many months away from Kenya, focused on office operations and the challenging work of building a sustainable organization, I was back to the heart of our work. With Kura.

What I have been most looking forward to on this trip is the gathering of our original BOMA team. In the first few years when we started this work, it was Kura, BOMA’s Operations Director, Semeji (our bodyguard) and Omar, our all-around field support man and me. The past two years our journeys have been work in the field, mostly spot-checking businesses and mentors along with the hosting of donors, photographers and consultants. This trip it will be just us. We’ll drive the long distances and Kura and I will talk non-stop – sometimes shouting above the corrugated roads. Semeji will sing his warrior songs and Omar will spot for us – watching for cheetahs and hoopoes and listening for the sound of a bad tire.

Today will be a full day of meetings. Kura has prepared an agenda and our meeting extends into dinner and breakfast the next morning. It was wonderful to start the meetings in our new offices – a small house with 3 rooms and a kitchen – a far cry from our one room office in a 5th floor walk-up. That night I slept at Kongoni Camp and before the staff arrived for dinner I sat by Kongoni’s fire in an open air room with a small bar. I sipped my drink and wrote pages of notes. The fire took the chill off the damp that descended from snow-capped Mt. Kenya. Even though we are on the equator, it was freezing. I was grateful for the extra blankets on the simple bed, but the cold shower in the morning made me wish for the scalding heat of northern Kenya.