Memories, Hopes and Photographs I

We slept in our own beds last night. For Debbie, Paul and me, it was an incredibly long journey home. Thursday morning, Aryn dropped us off at the airport in Kigali. We anticipated our flight leaving at around 10 am. We were told by a staffer at the Rwanda Air counter that our plane would not actually leave until 3 pm. We did not have Aryn’s telephone number. I tried calling Celestine, our colleague at KIE, in an attempt to discuss options and to get Aryn’s number. He did not answer. We decided that the best thing to do was to wait in the airport.

Rwanda Air would not permit us to check our bags early. We loaded the bags onto a cart and went off in search of a place to sit. At Kigali International Airport, the only comfortable seating area for departing passengers was the Bourbon Coffee seating area. We felt a little uncomfortable about taking up space in their shop without purchasing something, so Debbie had a coffee drink and Paul and I had Fanta sodas. We read and played cards. We had lunch, and the sandwiches carried price tags every bit as hefty as those found in the Portland airport. At 1 pm we proceeded through security and got in line to check in. After a long wait in line, while the Rwanda Air folks were taking care of our luggage and ticketing, we were cleared for departure. We breezed through immigration control and through security and watched English football while we waited to board. The flight itself, on a Jetlink aircraft, was uneventful. Paul asked if Rwanda Air was a company with a name only, and I started to think that myself, though we did see one jet parked on the tarmac with a Rwanda Air name on its side.

Entry into Kenya through the immigration counter at Nairobi was practically effortless. We proceeded directly to the head of a line, were well received by the agent, who was cordial in receiving our passports and previously-obtained visas. Perhaps that two hour wait we encountered after our arrival from Schipol was an anomaly? Richard, a colleague of Patrick, greeted us with a “Scot Headley” sign, and drove us to the Free Pentecostal Fellowship Guest House. The traffic coming from the airport was very heavy, with Richard telling us it was typical rush hour traffic. In one stretch, as we waited our turn at a major round about, numerous vendors walked the traffic lanes between cars. Men and women, as well as some children sold drinks and fruit, dvds, books and tools, and just about anything else you could want or not want. Mortor cycles and pedestrians snuck between traffic as well, and after a long wait and the experience of wading our way through Nairobi traffic, we made it to the guest house.

Our plane was not leaving until Friday night at 10. Patrick agreed that he would pick us up at 6 pm. So, we had a full day in Nairobi. We made a plan to sleep late, eat breakfast and then spend the day doing email, and checking messages, writing and reading. After three weeks on the road we were not eager to venture out onto the Nairobi streets. The power went off right before breakfast and so our plan to use the internet was dashed. This was a typical planned outage. In this part of Nairobi, the power is out 12 hours a day on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Folks learn to deal with it. Between reading and resting and card games, Debbie and I strolled the grounds of the guest house. We used the time to reflect on our trip. I developed a list of questions about our experience and asked Paul and Debbie to respond. I will write about our responses soon.

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