Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The trip home

So I made it home yesterday after twenty-four hours of traveling with 5 airports, 4 flights, and 1 train. Whew! It went pretty smoothly. Kenya dropped me at the Malindi airport where there was no security check. It was a good flight to Nairobi where I sent last minute post cards and bought a shirt for Jason that we had tried to find in his size in Malindi. Then I thought I was boarding at gate 4 so I waited there. There were more gates at the end of the hall and around the corner but I didn't look down there. After a while my destination still was not listed on the screen so I looked down the hall and the next gate wasn 't gate 5 it was 4B so I realized that was probably the gate I should be at so I went. When I got to the desk it was a mess. It was like I came in on the back side of the security checkpoint because the waiting room full of people was on the other side of the conveyor belt and metal detector. There was one man in front of me and about ten people came behind me. We lined up to send our bags through the conveyer belt but on the other side about 100 people were already lined up and had begun the process. At the same time the security guys were getting agitated because they could not find the manifest. Things were not looking too good. The lady behind me asked where the other people had just come from and they said Somalia. Oh! Now we understood. She said the security is tight when you come from there. She said once she came through that way and there was even a K9 dog to sniff everyone. No wonder the security guys were on edge. So we waited while they passed through security, came through the metal detector and around to our side to collect their items. Then they were told to wait on our side which was not very spacious until they told them where to go next. Finally they realised our side would not hold anymore people so they stopped the people on the other side so that we could go through. That made them oh so happy as you can imagine! Finally, we sent our items through and passed to the other side where the waiting room was and we waited. I guess they got everything all sorted out. It was confusing. I have never seen a security checkpoint in an airport that worked 2 directions. The flight to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania went well. When we got to the airport there we were looking for the direction to go for connecting flights. It was around 7pm when we got there. We had people telling us two different directions to go (and the airport is really small) They kept trying to send us to customs and I kept saying we are not staying in Tanzania we are connecting to Amsterdam. They said "Tonight?" I said yes. They were like oh! Come this way we have already locked the doors. They unlocked them and had us wait. Then they took our passports and boarding passes and tried to get us all sorted out. It was funny like they forgot they had more flights going out that night! It turned out the flight had about 200 or more people on it. In the meantime there was 6 of us for Amsterdam and 4 for Zurich. The Zurich people got to their place. Then the one man kept giving one girl in our group a hard time about her luggage. She looked very young and I wondered if it was cultural that he would speak to her harshly. Another man tried to take up for her a little and questioned the man about it. It turned out that this man was a professional or semi-pro golfer who had just played in a tournament in Nairobi. One of the other men waiting with us recognized him because he had played in some of the same tournaments. Anyway, for some reason the Kenyan staff had written to stop her luggage in Dar es Salaam. Also they had kindly charged her for extra weight on her baggage instead of an extra piece like they should have. It was cheaper for her because her extra box was very lightweight. They were trying to be kind but the next airport caught the error. One man came and she paid him $200 more dollars and he said he would bring the receipt. She and I had a really nice visit while we waited. Her name was Shirley. She works for a flower company in Nairobi and was on the way to an exhibition in St. Petersburg, Russia. She told me that Kenya is the second leading exporter of cut flowers in the world after Equador. One of her clients in France is a store at the market at the end of the bus line that runs by my house. (Of all the places in France!) Small world! She said the Tanzanians kept talking to her and every sentence began with "You Kenyans-" She said they didn't like Kenyans much or at least it seemed that way in this airport. Time passed and people began to line up and go through security and still no receipt. So I asked if she wanted we to go with her and we would get it. She said yes and we went. Everyone seemed to give her a hard time, one lady tried to send us back up to wait- speaking harshly to her again. She turned to go and I said no we should wait right here. They have your money and they owe you a receipt. So the security guys held our passports and let us go through to where the lady was and we stood in her sight and waited. It took about 2 minutes and we had it. Shirley said she was too soft and it was because they were afraid of me that they got it done so fast. I thought it was funny- I never said a word to the workers. I just told her not to leave but to wait there. I guess it worked. We got in line to go through security. The flight to Amsterdam was good. I think I slept 6 of the 9 hours. When we got off there was a passport check as we offloaded the plane at the end of the gate. That was a first for me. I said goodbye to Shirley after we exchanged emails. Then I changed to warmer clothes that had not been sweated on. Then I bought a backpack. I had a big purse but both the straps were very close to breaking on because of too much weight (literally hanging by a thread) and another tote bag that one strap had already broken on because of the weight! I was going to be in bad shape if anymore straps broke. So I put the tote bag in the backpack and carried the purse without using the straps. I bought a cup of coffee and waited for my 9:30 flight to Paris. I saw a lady with a Texas A&M shirt on and said hello to a fellow Texan. She still had much traveling to do. Thankfully I was almost home. I got to Paris. Took the one hour train ride from the airport to home and began to walk home. A man helped me with my bag down the stairs at the train station-a common thing to do here. Then he began questioning me about my trip. He was from Congo and asked me how Obama's place (Kenya)was, did I vote for him, etc. Just coming back from Kenya I noticed that the people there seemed to ask lots of questions about what you were doing and that sort so I was just thinking it was his culture to be so curious- It is not French culture to be so. But then he said something about going out for a drink sometime and I said No sorry I'm married. He was kind of shocked then I realized that I needed to cross the road so I said Au revoir! Waited one second and somebody behind me said Hi Angie.
It was some fellow students Katie and James. They had just gotten back from Greece and were on the same train. I said boy am I glad to see you guys! So I just kept walking and had a nice visit with Katie and James my rescuers. Then I noticed that the guy had crossed to the other side of the road where I was going. I was relieved they were there. I did not have too far to walk and I did not want that guy to see where I lived. I got home was greeted by 5 big smiling faces, gave and received some big hugs, passed out gifts and settled in. I'm home!
Thanks for your prayers, ANGIE

1 comment:

debby said...

You are so very brave....glad you made it home safely..I enjoy your blogs....know that we are praying for you all at LDMBC...