Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Carmageddon and then onto Dar es Salaam

Tuesday, May 12, 2015, midnight

We were going to the airport this evening to retrieve our lost luggage.  We had no idea what a mistake that would be.  We have been in traffic of all kinds in many different countries.  Never in our lives have we experienced anything like this.  We planned on taking 3 hours to get to the airport; this trip used to take about an hour.  After 5 hours we were back at our flat having never left the main part of Nairobi.  The only good news was that we called the airport to hear that they had all 4 pieces of our lost luggage.  It was common tonight to sit and not move for 15 to 30 minutes at a time.  It rained off and on.  Policemen on occasion were helpful in getting rid of a ‘jam’ but most of the time they would inexplicably allow one side of the road traffic to go but not the other.  We remember that when the police get involved in trying to ‘help’ the traffic situation in Nairobi they cause gridlock like we’ve never before experienced.  We were grateful therefore, when we were finally able to extricate ourselves and could go back to the flat—we felt trapped.  Many people heading for the airport missed their flights.  Sarah was exhausted so we told her to stay in the extra room and try to get us to the airport in the morning.  We thought she would never make it home anyway.

We showered, Jim and I (Sarah was too exhausted and went to bed), put on our smelly underwear and passed out in bed.  In all that time all I could think about was ‘choo iko wapi’ (Swahili for ‘where is the bathroom’). 

In the morning we donned our dirty clothes (sans deodorant and makeup) ate our breakfast and headed for the airport in hopes that this time we would be able to retrieve our luggage and make our flight to Dar.  Each time we have to change this flight it gets even more expensive, and short flights in Africa cost more than double a trip from the East to West Coast in the U.S.

With all that has happened, we can still be thankful for a few things: when we arrived back at the flat we noticed that the power was out, but as we walked towards our apartment the lights all came on!  What a blessing!  We finally had a bathroom to use.  We could take a shower and wash our hair.  They said our luggage had arrived.  And best of all, we were, after all, not in Nepal…

Wednesday, May 13.  I awoke at 5 AM and we took off for the airport at 6:30 AM.  This is a bit of overkill, but we had to find our lost luggage and I was in no mood to be stressed about missing our flight to Tanzania.  We arrived easily, found our luggage, and discovered what we’d brought Sarah from home was still there in an unlocked bag.  We’d collected some toys for her nursery school from a couple of our children and brought those along with an old computer for her son.  It will be a nice treat for them.  We sent this small bag back with Sarah, along with the donation bag that we will give to E/S Shakespeare, full of T-shirt dresses.  We had gobs of time left to get our flight to Tanzania. 

Above and below: A newly rebuilt airport terminal in Kenya after a fire destroyed it a few years ago.

It feels as though we’ve been here a lifetime, spent money, and done absolutely nothing…we are anxious to get to work.

We ran into 3 young French-speaking missionaries in the airport, but they knew a little Swahili.  They were on their way to Burundi—two Elders and one Sister.  The airport burned down a few years ago so they have rebuilt it—kind of modern I’d say—a far cry from the old one.  They have not rebuilt the mall that was attacked by terrorists and eventually destroyed by the Kenyan military.  But you can see evidences of tighter security everywhere in Kenya these days.

After an uneventful flight we arrived bleary-eyed in Dar; it was overcast and raining.  It was not terribly hot because of the rain, but warm nonetheless.  Because of Jim’s state of jetlag he overpaid the cabbie and even I didn’t realize that until we got to the hotel.  Oh, well, we acted like a couple of rookies.  The drive to the hotel was long but I slept most of the way.  Our hotel is called the Colosseum.  I asked Dorothy from the office about which hotel she liked better (where they put visiting couples)—it was the more expensive one, but I see nothing wrong with this one.  It is a bit old-style with rustic tile floors and decorated like its name; the bed is soft and the shower is full-volume and warm.  The room is large.  We can see signs of some wear, but it will be great.  It was fun to shower, change into a whole new set of clean clothes, and put makeup and deodorant on.  I feel like a real princess even with a bad case of jetlag.  And, I got to unpack!  Life is good!

 Our spacious room above at the Colesseum Hotel in Dar & dining room below; 
it is good to be planted somewhere for a few days.

Love, From Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

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