UPDATE on Nairobi, Kenya
Given my somewhat recent post about Nairobi, Kenya, I just wanted to give my readers an update about the city.
I had one hell of a time leaving the city, as I departed on the last flight out of the airport before the airport exploded into flames.
A few weeks later, after having seen a couple Bollywood movies at the Westgate Mall, several people were taken hostage by militants after killing over 67 people.
Now today, there were explosions near the market I am pictured standing in in downtown Nairobi.
I urge everyone considering a trip to Kenya to postpone it until Kenyan troops cross back into Kenyan territory. Kenyan troops crossed into Somalia in an effort to fight terrorism in 2011 and the results have been an increase in terror attacks in the Kenyan capital.
I am not one for hyperbolic travel warnings, and I definitely don’t believe in traveling with fear, but there is something to be said for being sane and safe. Plus, even if I would still travel to Kenya, I can’t say that I would recommend that normal people visit at this time. The area is too close to chronically unstable regions such as Somalia and until the Kenyan army works out a new way to battle Islamic extremism, the area is just too dangerous to travel to at the moment. This includes also Tanzania and Zanzibar, as there have also been several acid attacks on Westerners there within the past year or so as well (also coincidentally right after I departed the country). I guess my luck was running low or high, depending on how you wanna view it.
At the end of the day, as someone who’s been to these places and who can asses the risks realistically, I have to recommend that people wait until things settle down before starting a safari. All major safairs run through Nairobi, so please just postpone until the region stabilizes.
So what would you say is your reason for travelling to these areas? Do you want to get in on the fight, on a personal level? Do you want to spread awareness in the U.S.? What’s your angle?
I like to travel to more obscure and contentious areas because they are more challenging for me personally. It is easy to travel to Western Europe for instance. There is no real cultural shock, the languages are similar and most everyone travels there. For me, that’s boring, it’s less stimulating. I want to be challenged to understand things first hand which I don’t already know and I want to develop a deeper understanding of WHY places are the way they are. I want to know on a visceral level what is it like. I am a history buff and I am fascinated by history and especially the history of Asia and Africa. I want to see it with my own two eyes and conceptualize it’s place in the modern world.
Beyond that, I like to visit conflict zones (I was in Egypt when the revolution started there, I went to Kyiv to cover the revolution as well) because I again am fascinated with living history in the modern context. I also am deeply moved by the human struggle for freedom and the ways people fight for it and I have a huge spot in my heart for those who have no voice. So I guess I go to give them the platform to speak and I hope that through my words that I can give their struggles relevancy to the average American reader. It’s easy to dismiss facts and figures on CNN in a far away place and to not care about wars that happen far from home. But it’s much harder to ignore such things when you read about the impact they have on people who could be your sister, your cousin, your mother or your brother. I like to bring a human element to conflicts and to explain human behavior that would otherwise seem inexplicable.
I’m at the point where I dislike most travelling, at least recreational/historical travelling, because I have become so concerned with immediate, contemporary issues such as human rights, independence, poverty, etc. I cannot enjoy most historical sites as long as I see another human in need, especially when I am in foreign countries. I like that you are trying to make a difference; I’m concerned with staying in the U.S. because we wield so much power and influence, and I am trying to continue the slight change that has occurred over the last 8 years. The average American consumer/voter has such influence in terms of the products we buy, any sort of raising of awareness here is, I believe, a good thing. I have hope for the future, as technology is increasing our ability to disseminate information and opportunities for education. Safe travels to you.
Thank you!! Likewise, if you ever find the heart to travel again. The way I see it, if you can go to these places and really see and feel the problems present you can both share with emotion and immediacy the problems and explain them more accurately AND you also gain valuable insight and inspiration to help and to change your own lifestyle. I think, pragmatically speaking, that this is reason enough to visit for me, but to each their own. Isolation tends to be bad for everyone no matter what the motivation behind it may be.
disagree. have been to all those places you mentioned and also in Cairo amidst the protests and i would not want it any other way… that’s what “all inclusive popcorn travel is for”. I go to the depths of places like Uganda and donate money, clothes and books to kids who have no one in life. Bombs, outbreaks, violence and protests won’t keep me away… ever. By the way, speaking of poverty and violence – have you actually seen the bad parts of USA? … I feel safer in Nairobi, Zanzibar and Uganda, then in some parts of New York!!
Honey I live about 2 blocks from Skid Row, one of the worst parts of LA. And I grew up poor as shit in the ghetto in STL for many years. We were so poor we didn’t have silverware or plates. And I lived in South Central for 2 years when I moved to LA and I’ve seen more than a few people get shot in drive by shootings outside my old apartment complex. I mean, I could continue but you get the point. For me personally nothing and nowhere is “too dangerous”, I was simply referring to the general population at large who would travel for leisure. Me personally I jump at the chance to visit active conflict zones and yes I was in Cairo with my ex boyfriend when the revolution started and I was down in it and was not scared. I was in Japan when the nuclear plant exploded. I obviously was in Ukraine while the protests happened. I’ve also participated in protesting in Palestine several times and got held and deported by the Mossad, so trust I love me some conflict, I just know the average traveler doesn’t.
i see. maybe i just never had a knife at my throat and robbed 3 times (two of them were break ins) within 1 month like i did in west hollywood at 8-11 in the evening, at other places around the world. lost a bunch of my close friends in LA to a gang violence. and “honey” like you said, i didn’t have it peachy either .. i was homeless when i arrived solo in usa at 19.
no one was attacking you, i just shared my opinion.
hola from Argentina.
You two sound like birds of a feather.
lol trueeeee 🙂