Saturday, September 19, 2015

International Travel

Yikes. So it was a really rough couple days of travel and now I seem to have come down with the flu. I'm sorry I've been antisocial for these first few days back.  I left Soroti on Monday morning on a little MAF flight, got a taxi from Kampala to Entebbe and spent a few hours waiting there, then was supposed to fly out of Uganda at 11:30pm. But there were more than 200 IOM refugees on that flight which between security, immigration and boarding caused us to be nearly 2 hours late.  The flight was terrible. The flight staff had no patience for these folks who spoke practically no English and I'm suspecting most of them had never been out of their villages or refugee camps before. I was seated next to two little boys who spoke a bit of Swahili and who thought their parents were on the plane but weren't sure. They were very overwhelmed. One wet themselves because they didn't know there was a toilet on the plane. They were normal kids and 9 hours of sitting in a seat is tough even when you have your parents around. Harder when you a left with strangers in a very strange place.
Because it was an overnight flight we should have been able to get a little sleep but meals took FOREVER to distribute and the overhead lights weren't turned off until nearly 3am and were turned back on a 5am for breakfast. The flight was very hot and very smelly.  I had a 5 hour layover in Amsterdam but they are doing major renovations on their international terminal so there is almost no seating. Hundreds of people were sitting on the floors between departure gates. The flight out of the Netherlands was a noon and we were supposed to land in Chicago at 4 pm but it was definitely not a four hour flight. (  I think it was a nine hour flight). We arrived in Chicago nearly an hour late and between that, hours of waiting in immigration, and missing luggage I missed my connecting flight to Grand Rapids.

After re-booking for a later flight I went back to the international terminal to file the report for the missing luggage. Well, turns out it wasn't actually lost, but broken. I waited nearly a hour but finally they brought it to me. The whole bottom of my case was broken out. Now I needed to figure out how to repack it in such a way that I could get it to the domestic terminal (requires a train ride in ORD) and there was no way they would let me check it the way it was. I also discovered at this time that my american cell phone's sim card was no longer working because it had been shut off for the past two years. And pay phones are rather hard to find these days. After less than two hours of sleep in the last 36 hours it felt like an insurmountable challenge to solve these problems. But a 9pm I finally arrived in Grand Rapids. My family was all there waiting to greet me.
I feel like I've done next to nothing these last few days but I'm starting to feel human again and hope to be connecting with all of you soon!

1 comment:

Karebear said...

Wow Jennifer! That is quite the trip. Glad you are home and I hope you are able to rest. Today I think I am also getting the flu... achy joints, sore throat... just feeling blah... but praying that you will soon be up and at 'em, enjoying life with friends and family in MI.