I had this plan to escape. I’ve never left the children before but with my parents-in-law ensconced here for a few weeks I had the bright idea of hot footing it to London to meet my new niece. My in laws offered to do school runs and keep the home fires burning in my absence – hooray! The prospect of flying alone and uninterrupted and cruising around London without three small children in tow seemed almost too good to be true.
Plans were progressing well when a spanner was thrown into the works as I glanced into our passport drawer and discovered that mine was missing. Countdown began, as I had three working days until leaving the country, but I was fairly sure that the passport was in the safe hands of my husband in his office, as it had been needed occasionally through the missing suitcase fiasco with Kenya Airways. The first day I looked vaguely around the house and asked if the passport might be at the office, but by evening he had forgotten to look as it had been a crazy day at work. At lunchtime on Thursday I received a phone call to say that my passport was definitely not in the office and must be at home. My heart sank and I felt completely sick. I didn’t know whether to tear around the house lurching from one possible hiding place to the next, or sit down and think rationally about how to get to England without a passport. After many frantic short telephone calls comprising of dialogue like; ‘have you checked X?’ answer; ‘yes, oh and have you checked in the Y?’, ‘No, but I’m sure I won’t find it there!’
My father-in-law reasonably suggested I get in touch with the British High Commission and held the phone until we got through. Apparently the High Commission is closed to the public on Fridays and it was suggested that I cancel or change my flight. Oh no! Alternatively I could quickly do a Krypton factor like challenge and get two passport photos with white backgrounds, a police abstract stating the loss and the relevant BHC forms from our local representative by 7.30am the following morning, and if the computers and phone links were up to it at the High Commission, I might get a temporary document to travel. So my afternoon was spent speeding first to the down at heal Karen police station where I was asked; ‘do you think you can make it?’ (i.e. to London) answer; ‘yes, I hope so, with your help of course’; then numerous visits to the photo shop where there is no photo booth, but someone holding an antique camera with a flash and then come back in half an hour to collect the snaps. I went through this whole procedure twice as I’m so vain and the first photo looked like I had just started chemo therapy. Passport photos here tend to be a little over exposed for us mzungus (whites). Last, I disturbed a very elderly gentleman and his wife at home and asked them to search for British High Commission forms, which they kindly did but I felt silly and disorganised nonetheless.
Guiltily, B came home early to help ‘look’ and his mum suggested he check one more time through his already thoroughly searched and many pocketed laptop case, that travels between home and office every day. Sure enough my passport was inside ‘deep down’ in one of the flaps. His punishment is that I have written it all down in this blog.
Before going to England we watched tons of firework displays and went to a huge party at the Karen Club with live jazz, salsa dancers and disco. The dance floor was packed with three hundred people in their best clothes and some impressive national dress costumes too. A highlight was dancing to ‘chunga viazi’ (peel the potatoes), a favourite Kenyan disco hit of the moment about not being able to pay the bill in a restaurant. The members of the club are mostly Kenyan middle class businessmen and women who are keen on playing golf.