The guys at the Turkish Embassy are a cheeky lot… while there are not many restrictions in place designed to prevent Kenyans from accessing the country, they do seem to enjoy turning people back and delaying them for the most flippant of reasons.
My boyfriend (henceforth referred to as Amore) who is Kenyan and I (who am not Kenyan) were due to travel to Istanbul for our Easter holidays last Thursday. I was very excited about this trip as it would be our first international romantic holiday together (visiting family and friends in Italy for Christmas is amazing but doesn’t quite tick off all those romantic boxes). I travelled to Istanbul twice in my teens and remembered it as being one of the most beautiful cities (after Rome of course) in the entire world and just couldn’t wait to share the experience with him. I had in fact been planning this trip for two months.
Exactly eight days before we were set to travel, Amore turned up at the Embassy to apply his visa. His Shengen visa had expired one week before which was unfortunate, because he could have applied for a Turkish one online if it had been valid. Anyway, he arrived with our TravelStart reservation number and ourAirBnB booking confirmation, only to get turned back by the woman at the front office because, she claimed, he was missing a letter from our AirBnB host. So Amore and I spend a few hours drafting a letter with a very sympathetic but not really English speaking Ziyan (read: we wrote the letter and sent it to him to sign), who was to host us in his “retro ethnic apartment” the following week. This was a pretty futile exercise because when Amore turned up at the Embassy the next day, nobody asked to see any kind of letter.
To make a long and frustrating story short, the Embassy released the visa on the day we were supposed to travel, hence thwarting our plans. We had informed them multiple times of the day we were supposed to travel (and the only flights that Turkish Airlines have leave in the morning). Although on Thursday TravelStart had assured is that they would get us on the Sunday flight to Istanbul for only the price of changing a ticket (95$ each so not nothing, but still doable), when the time came these tickets had mysteriously disappeared and we were informed we would have to pay a minimum of 240$ each to change our flight. Unfortunately as money does not grow on trees around these parts, this meant our trip was effectively cancelled.
So Amore very sweetly saved the day, or Easter Weekend as the case may be, with a camping trip to the Maji Moto springs and Lake Bogoria.
Obviously my mind was never far away from my lost trip (although Maji Moto and Bogoria are really rather lovely I can’t deny) so I did a little series of pictures imagining what we would have been doing had we been in Istanbul.
This article was originally published in upnairobi.com in April 2015