I’m at Jomo Kenyatta airport in Nairobi, and the next leg of my flight to Entebbe is delayed.
It’s my first time back in Kenya since I lived here back in 2004. After landing I headed straight for the Java house coffee shop. It’s still right where I left it. On my way I passed by the old shops selling the same stuff; Tusker beer t-shirts, kikuyus, dyed bone trinkets. Everything looked nice and fresh to me. I kept seeing Barbie and spiderman shaped junk, and fighting my impulse to buy it all. I miss my babies, each time I fly I miss them a little bit more. The first job I took I had not been away from them ever, not really. I was excited by the prospect of being the old me again. I looked forward to my one day off in order to sleep in, (which of course I could not), and almost felt the time to return arrived too soon. Now I start missing them already at the airport. This will be the longest trip yet, two full weeks. I’ve called in the cavalry; my mother in law arrives this evening, my parents in 6 days to take over and distract them further. I trust they will be adequately distracted and spoilt by their grandparents.
The flight here felt short, one of the benefits of having lived in the far east is that anything below 20 hrs feels short, and it was without a doubt the most hostile environment over 3000ft I have been in, starting with a Kenyan nun who had issues with me opening her head compartment to see if I could fit my stuff in
Nun- ‘I put a laptop in there’
Me- ‘I’ve got a laptop to put in too’
Nun- ‘its full’
Me- ‘they are all full’ (I had tried four other compartments before hers)
I move to the next compartment, which is effectively emptier, and begin putting my things in
Nun- ‘can you close my compartment’ (no question mark as it was not a question)
Nun- ‘can you close my compartment!’
Me- slam compartment shut (that’ll show her!)
Then I got hassled by an airhostess because I wanted to pee even thought the seatbelt sign was on, like I am going to pee on myself over some minor turbulence. I think she took it as a personal affront to her authority. She held a grudge but got over it eventually. Then another guy had a go at me because I held the bathroom door open as he exited. There is something about the rich in third world countries. The “haves” amongst the poorest tend to be the most petulant and arrogant. They are accustomed to being above the law and respected (or feared) and expect to be treated with deference. That I do not miss.
On the transfer line I saw how each person in front of me was being rescheduled to another flight the following day. When my turn arrived they tried to convince me that I was on standby, which I was not. I huffed and I puffed and got my seat, (after I got my coffee).
We landed around midnight, and had to do another hour drive from Entebbe to Kampala. It was dark so I could barely see, but I could hear the crickets, the loud African crickets that were almost noisier than the car itself, and somehow that made me feel at home. I struggled to stay awake, with the windows down I could feel the fresh crisp air on my skin. It felt nice to have it freed from the winter gear.
I got to the hotel around 2am and went straight to bed. It was only the next morning when I looked out the window that I realized the hotel was perched on a hill overlooking lake Victoria. Kampala looked beautiful and green in the misty morning light. Unfortunately, that was the highlight of the day.