Imagine my surprise this morning to learn that my sister and brother-in-law are stranded in the USA because of the ash cloud. They went there for a friend's wedding. I knew that they were going for a long weekend, but did not have the sense to put two and two together. My mum is looking after their kids aged 3 and 1 in England. What a nightmare. And there I was, over the weekend thinking - lucky no one I know has been badly affected!! Sometimes it's annoying being so far away from home - apart from anything you get family gossip SOOO late - or otherwise miss dramas entirely! I think it's probably my fault for not keeping in touch enough. We do have skype, texts, emails etc. but our land telephone line has been down since before Christmas (the copper wire got stolen and looks like it is unlikely to ever be replaced) and it's all too tempting to retreat into a news blackout cave, especially at weekends.
The big picture of global repercussions is almost impossible for me to comprehend and probably has yet to be quantified. If nothing else it highlights how we have all become so reliant on air travel/transportation in daily life. It goes without saying that tourists are stranded here - but at least it is low season.
As one reader pointed out (see comments) the real disaster in Kenya is that flowers, fruits and vegetables have been left rotting at the airport for four days and counting. Flowers are Kenya's main export (representing 20% of all exports from Kenya) so obviously a huge source of income. In fact, exporters here are now being asked to come back and pick their backlog of produce up from Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi.
The Daily Nation today quoted Stephen Mbithi, chief exec of The Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya who said,
'On average we ship some 1,000 tonnes worth $3 million per day.' He continued,
'We have handled drought, El Nino and the post-election violence, but we have not seen anything like this.'
Mrs Jane Ngige, CEO of the Kenya Flower Council said,
'The headache now is where to take the produce. Do we dump the flowers in Dandora? What about the fruits? Where does one take so many?'
My M-I-L just sent me this link to today's telegraph on the subject of how Kenyan growers have been affected: