This is my first trip to Nairobi, the first time I have ever set foot on African ground. And what a welcome!
After the Airport fire in August, we expected long queues at the airport, but everyone swept through in an instant. And now I have a Kenyan visa in my passport, the first souvenir of my visit.
Simon met us outside and managed to fit our more than 60 kilos of books and other equipment into his ordinary car. Six suitcases and three women! Do you know Dr Who in Kenya? Have you heard about the TARDIS? Ordinary on the outside maybe, but inside it contains multitudes.
The hotel is tucked away in Westlands on the edge of the forest, I am told, Wangari Maathai worked to save. The man who opened the gates put his arm into the car and shook hands with everyone. At reception, they said that we would stay for a year and nothing less. It is brand new. Everything shines. The furniture waits patiently for us to use it, to sit and lean and eat and sleep. We stayed up late on the terrace beneath the lit trees, drinking wine and talking into the quiet.
And because we arrived in the dark, I saw little; only lights and traffic and the tops of loud buildings. I had the daylight still to come. This morning we drove to the Storymoja office and I filed these pictures in my memory: a fruit stand, edged with potted plants and a boy, waiting for customers; cars being washed outside the kindergarten, water shining on the tarmac yard; one man walking a dusty pug, another walking two Alsatian puppies; a boy with red trousers and a walking stick, smiling into the car.
I will use these snapshots later. I will return to them and they will find their way into a story, into an imagined scene. They will feed my imagination when I am home and it is winter and my world is grey with rain.
Gates line the roads so that I wonder what is behind them all and I am curious to know.
And then to the Storymoja pink gates, which open onto a pretty yard. And the green office, like a warren, crowded with new faces and a smiling Nairobi welcome.