Archive for September 2009

Memories, Hopes and Photographs II

September 5, 2009

After an interesting trip to the airport, we arrived and got through the KLM, security and immigration lines quickly. Patrick took us to the airport, and I learned that his skill in ditch and shoulder driving applied in urban, as well as rural settings. Patrick told us about his family and prayed God’s blessing on our trip. He had been to the Mara twice since we last saw him and he told us that he never tires of it.

Due to a KLM announcement, we proceeded directly to the gate, though as we arrived, we discovered we were some of the first folks there and wondered why the announcement, encouraging gate check in, had been made. Debbie and Paul made it through security first and as I was putting my bag and personal items on the security belt, a large delegation passed by me and proceeded through the security area. There were Masai warriors, soldiers, men in three piece suits, and security personal, all walking briskly. Several folks carried a large KLM flag. As we made it into the gate area, we heard music. Looking out on the tarmac, we discovered that the folks who had hurried by me through security had joined a larger group waiting below. It turns out that the plane we were to fly on had just made its first flight, just arriving from Amsterdam. This plane, a Boeing 777 had just landed, marking the first time that a plane of that type had landed in Nairobi.

The arrival of the plane was cause for celebration.  A military brass band played a number of spirited tunes, including at least one Abba song.  The Masai warriors jumped high in the air, in their characteristic way, and there was loud applause from the gathered group.  We learned from some of the KLM personnel in the gate area that the celebration was indeed for the arrival of the plane.  The captain and his crew deplaned and we saw them warmly greeted and many photographs were taken.  After we got on the plane, we learned from our pilot that indeed, the plane we were on was embarking on only its second commercial flight.  This 777 seemed to hold at least 600 people and it was quite a process to get everyone on board and into their seats.  The pilot asked the passengers to take good care of his new plane!

We arrived in Amsterdam early Saturday morning.  Debbie had gotten air sick, so I got her some medicine in a pharmacy.  Schiphol, the Amsterdam airport is really quite impressive.  In addition to the shops and lounges, the massive number of gates and the well laid out thoroughfares; the airport has a hotel, a small museum, a casino and numerous places to sit and wait.  It is quite a bit different than the Nairobi airport, which is another busy international airport.  After Debbie had a chance to rest and recover a bit, we walked to a store to find some cheese and chocolate to bring home.