Perhaps it is because writing is such an all-encompassing activity for me. Or maybe when I am traveling, I am too busy taking in everything to find the energy to write it down as it happens. Whatever the reason, I am a dismal failure at keeping a comprehensive travel journal. My intentions are good. I never travel without a journal to write in. But what gets into it are just snippets.
On my recent trip, I brought along the safari journal that has gone with me to Africa three times now. Here is a lot of what made it into the book this time around.
20 August 2014
On the way to JFK. The Carmel Car driver is Chinese and listens to a radio station that plays only songs by Beyoncé or Chinese groups that imitate her style. We get through the Midtown Tunnel in fine time, but the traffic is thick on the Queens side. The driver takes Queens Boulevard as the quickest way to airport—certainly more scenic than the Long Island Expressway. Along our route, we pass the Boca Juniors Restaurant, named for a Buenos Aires soccer team. One of the killers in my 1945 mystery set in Argentina—Blood Tango—was a fan. A couple of miles later, we pass the Argentine Tango restaurant. In between there was the King David Sushi Bar. A little further on is a storefront that houses a combination pharmacy and psychic reader’s parlor.
I know little of the borough of Queens other than the airports, but I brag about it all time. 150 languages are spoken here, a fact that speaks volumes about the diversity of my peaceable city.
21 August 2014
The trip from New York was long and with many delays. Arrival at Nairobi Airport just before midnight of day two. It’s a madhouse, with two off-schedule jumbo jets arriving at the same time and disgorging their polyglot passengers and several tons of motley luggage. I had reserved a hotel for the night of the 21st , but it is the wee hours of the 22nd before I get there. The driver who picks me up at the airport is named Edgar. It is close to 2:30 AM before I get to bed. I have no idea what time it is back in New York. And I don’t want to know.
22 August 2014
After a few hours’ sleep and a buffet breakfast, the driver I reserved—Patrick—picks me up and takes me to the Karen Blixen Museum. Young, delightful Lucy is my enthusiastic and well-informed guide. A high point for me is seeing Karen’s beautiful portraits of her African friends. I never knew she was a painter as well as a writer.
Lunch at a nearby historic building, now the restaurant and guesthouse, Tamambo. In the garden under a blooming jacaranda tree. The food is good, but not great, and I am not used to eating alone in such places.
The chicken dish was okay. The bread pudding scrumptious and mirabile dictu! REALLY good espresso.
Ah, that’s why there are so many Italians here. They heard the place has good coffee.