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Life Happenins’

On my last trip to Kenya, I decided to take a discovery flight lesson in Nairobi.

I have a slight interest in aviation and before the COVID pandemic, I took a couple of flight lessons in Colorado.

Having no leads, I began by searching for and calling flight schools. Eventually, I got managed to schedule a class with Ninety-Nines Flying School.

Ninety-Nines Flying School is based out of the Wilson airport in Nairobi. Wilson is a commercial airport serving many regional airlines. I was super excited to both be flying in Kenya as well as flying out of a commercial airport for the first time.

flight school

On the day of the flight, I arrived early and Pressly greeted me warmly and showed me around Wilson airport from an operational perspective. Pressly worked at Ninety-Nines Flying School, has a private pilot licence, and is aiming to get his commercial pilot license. He told me awesome stories of learning to fly and the process of getting licenses in Kenya, which turned out to have the same requirements as the United States. The only difference was they didn’t require tailspin recovery as a maneuver.

When the clouds cleared, Pressly walked me through the pilot’s entrance at Wilson and introduced me to Captain Madara, ready with a Cessna nicknamed “the Beast”.

Captain Madara

The Beast flew smoothly. We circled around Nairobi and saw some stunning views. (The picture doesn’t do Nairobi justice.)

flying over Nairobi

Captain Madara was excited to learn I had some prior flying experience and asked if I wanted to try some maneuvers not yet covered in my prior flight lessons. I said yes.

He accelerated the plane downwards to create G-forces and which felt like gut-wrenching drops during heavy turbulence.

He also stalled the engine and performed stall recovery.

Returning to the airport, Captain Madara exchanged controls with me and guided me through landing.

I couldn’t stop smiling when I stepped off the plane. It an amazing and heart-palpitating discovery flight.

A couple of friends and I took the bus from Kigali to Gisenyi in March. There were a couple of conflicting guides on how to get to Gisenyi from Kigali so I’m writing this down for any similarly curious travelers.

From the Nyabugogo Bus Station in Kigali, you can hop on a Ritco bus which will take you to Gisenyi by way of Musanse. See this blog post for photos.

Ritco buses are government run, leave very punctually at the half-hour, and use paper tickets with QR codes. You can buy tickets at the bus station, so no need to buy in advance.

The journey is 4 hours with several stops for restroom breaks. You get to course through the spectacular hills of Rwanda against the background of upbeat Nigerian pop music.

Google Maps thinks there are two bus stops in Gisenyi. In reality, there’s only one: the one next to the DRC border. The other stop is a nondescript location far from hotels and difficult for taxis to locate. Don’t make our mistake! Disembark at the blue dot.

Google Maps Gisenyi bus station

crow's nest

A crow built a nest outside our window and a couple of days ago, it laid eggs!

It has been simply delightful watching our crow friend and we’re looking forward to hatchlings.

Nairobi feels different than when I left in 2020. Many shops and restaurants closed. A lucky few expanded.

I was heartbroken to discover metal gates shuttering Silk Noodles and Canton Snacks near Argwings Arcade. They were my favorite Chinese restaurants.

Michael noticed one Google review mentioned Silk Noodles had relocated. So last evening, we ventured out to find the new Silk Noodles.

What we discovered was a Chinatown!

Nairobi Chinatown

chengdu restaurant

chinese real estate

spirits and wines

Chinatown was a massive complex filled with restaurants and specialty shops.

The main grocery store stocked authentic ingredients. They even had zha cai, a vegetable I’d struggled to find in Vancouver!

Dinner at Silk Noodles was delicious, as always.

For a long time, I’d thought GIMP had bad support for tablets. Aside from feeling a lot of kinetic dissonance from the choppy feedback, I saw multiple mouse cursors. One cursor was from my laptop touch pad and another from my Wacom stylus. The two moved independently and stylus cursor disappeared every time I navigated away from the canvas.

double-cursor

I searched a lot for GIMP tablet configurations and Wacom drivers for Linux, but turns out it was a Wayland issue.

Gnome with Xorg solved everything!

Hope this helps whoever else stumbles across this.

Happy New Year!

Yesterday, I got some amazing noodles at Canton Snacks. (They open as early as 8am in the morning so you can eat noodles all day!)

IMG_3518

Today I hit up Two Rivers Mall for their Lunar New Year event. It was delightfully cheesy and reminded me a lot of the cultural festivals in the Midwestern United States! They had stations for learning calligraphy, learning chopsticks, trying on historical costumes, etc. Everyone looked like they had a great time.

At the Chinese knot station, I had trouble assembling the knots and a friendly Kenyan helped me out. I was really impressed ’cause he spoke amazing Chinese!

I didn’t expect Nairobi to host any kind of Lunar New Year events so this was a charming surprise my first weekend back in Kenya.