07 February 2015

I knew I was back in Africa when these five things happened...

...I got unsolicited parenting advice.
On the flight from Dubai to Nairobi (honestly right around the time we flew into African airspace) a Kenyan woman coming from the bathroom stopped to advise me to adjust sleeping Gretchen because her head was at an awkward angle.  I cannot tell you how often I get advice on how to hold, feed, comfort and/or clothe my kids from complete strangers, and after 2.5 months away, all I could do was mildly protest that she was okay as the woman adjusted Gretchen's head herself.  It's all kindly meant, but feels a little condescending.  (My pride rebels!)

...immigration took longer for the Kenyans than for the Americans.
Logically, it should certainly be easier to allow Kenyans back into their own country than to process hand-written visas for foreigners.  In the past we've all gone through the Kenyan line because Fred and Wesley have Kenyan passports and I have a residence permit, so don't need a visa.  This time, because we don't have Gretchen's Kenyan passport yet, she and I went through the visa line, and were done a full ten minutes sooner than the guys were.  Why?  I honestly have no idea.  There were far more foreigners than nationals on our flight, and there are always a handful utterly unprepared to pay a visa fee, which takes time as they argue why they shouldn't have to or can't pay.  All I can think is that the Kenyan government puts such a high premium on tourism that they expedite the foreign visitors as much as possible.

...our lost luggage forms took about an hour.
Our flight from New York to Dubai had been delayed an hour, so we just barely made it to our Dubai to Nairobi flight in time for boarding and we had a feeling our bags might not have made it.  Sure enough, only two out of eight pieces made it on our plane, so we had to report our luggage as lost.  What we should have done is just find our when the next Dubai to Nairobi flight was (six hours behind ours) and come back then.  Instead we got sucked into the African bureaucracy, where the forms for our luggage had to be filled out by hand, complete with coded letter/number combinations to describe each bag.  It seemed to take forever, especially to our three very sleepy kids.

...the lost luggage people seemed a little disappointed to see Fred.
This being Kenya, and this not being our first rodeo, so to speak, Fred made sure he was there in plenty of time to get our bags off the carousel when the later flight came in.  He ran into the lost luggage guy who was also searching for our bags.  This should have been reassuring, except that our instincts (and our taxi driver) warned us that we should not leave our bags in the custody of the luggage people for any amount of time, because they're notorious for rifling through and taking stuff.

...our plans changed immediately upon arrival.
Since we had to wait around for our luggage, we couldn't make it to the overnight bus we were intending to take to the border.  Instead we rented a hotel room for the night. (Thanks to the friends and family who handed us cash on the last day so that this unplanned-for expense was not stressful!)  The kids revived enough to bounce off the walls until they crashed like dominoes, and Fred and I realized that this change of plans was really God's best plan for us.  We got a pretty good night's sleep after about 34 hours of travel and a really nice, hearty breakfast before setting out for our final 10-hours home.

1 comment:

erin said...

So thankful you made it home (and with everything!). It was a blast to hang out a bit and get to interact with your kids a little :)