The Dubai airport changed drastically. It’s no longer 2 floors where gates are on the second floor, and shops/stores are on the first. It’s all one floor. If it will help give you an idea as to the size of this airport, I departed out of gate 201… I think it was somewhere near the middle of the airport. Anyway, the shops are now on the interior of the terminal, and the gates are on the outside of the terminal. Not, “outside” outside, but more like a rectangle within a rectangle. There was something I missed, though, about coming upon the escalator and seeing how expansive the terminal was. Now, you don’t get the same feel. There’s plenty of seating, now, and that’s a huge plus! Charging stations all over, and you don’t have to step over sleeping bodies to get a seat on the floor against the wall. Again, I thought that was part of its charm before. I must admit that it was nice not having to sit on the floor for 2 hours. On the other hand, I couldn’t find the Baskin Robbins. I don’t think they made the cut. Neither did the Coldstone. Bummer. Ice cream solves all problems.
Jim was waiting for me in Nairobi, and we were going to take the 5pm flight to Kisumu and avoid having to spend the night in Nairobi. We left Dubai late, and when you add the lethargy of Kenya to a late flight, that means although we landed at 3:15, I didn’t get my bags until 4:10. I scooped them up, found Jim standing just outside the terminal, and scurried across the street to the local terminal. The name of the airline was “540,” and the woman who checked us in was delightful. Her name was Caroline, and enjoyed our brief rendition of Sweet Caroline… we skipped the ‘BUM, BUM, BUM” part, but I think we got our point across. You may think we’re pathetic, but it saved us some money because we were well over the allotted 23kg/person. Altogether we had almost 95, and she only charged us for an additional 20kg.
It’s never a dull moment when you travel with Jim Nowak. While in flight, he informed me that Noel Shinali (a Kenyan grad student with a degree in Community Health who’ll be helping with the nursing students in May) would be meeting us at the airport. Well, she didn’t, and we couldn’t get her on the phone. No problem. We just hopped in another taxi. We were about a mile away when she called back. Jim said, “Where are you?” She was back at the airport with another taxi that brought her all the way from Kisumu. While their conversation continued, the taxi driver turned around nervously, wondering where he was going to put another passenger. We travelled another ½ mile before we realized that she wasn’t at the airport, but at the intersection before the entrance to the airport. Yes, we turned around again. Jim said, “Look for us when we pull up. There’s a big mazungo (white guy) in the front seat.” She told him she was wearing a white blouse. I spotted her as we waiting to cross the intersection. Not only was she wearing a white blouse, but she was the only woman there! We pulled up, and I rolled the window down. Apparently, white guys do that all the time, because she hesitated until I said, “It’s us Noel.” We all laughed about that later. Because she had hired a taxi to take her to the airport from Maseno (a 2000 Kenyan shilling drive), Jim stayed with her and headed back to Maseno while I went into Kisumu for some supplies. I grabbed a new sim card for my phone, a modem and a lot of water. I hopped back in the car, and immediately called home to let them know I arrived safely. The 8 hour time difference meant that I had already missed the children going to school, but I caught Ann. Thankfully. It was great to hear her voice, and she was happy to hear mine. I gave her the Reader’s Digest version, and told her I'd call her after everyone got home from school.
OK, brief interlude. I’m sitting on my bed under the mosquito net typing. It’s 2 in the morning, so although I hear the mosquitos buzzing around me, I can’t tell if they’re inside the net, or outside the net. It’s actually a bit un-nerving. Well, the loudest one was inside the net. I just sandwiched him between my hands. If he bit me before that, I certainly didn’t feel it. I’m glad that Kenyan mosquitos don’t like me much.
Okay, back to the story at hand. I just finished talking on the phone with Andrea and the kids (I somehow managed to skype Katie at 11:30pm while I was in Dubai). It was wonderful to hear their voices… always energizing on these trips. Althoough I purchased a modem so that I could Skype with everyone rather than call, it didn’t work out so well. Out of the two carriers in Kenya, I think I picked the slow one. It makes those 3g commercials from Verizon look very accurate. I apparently only have a 2g signal with Zane, so I’m going to try Safaricom when I get back into Kisumu on Saturday. It’s not like you can walk into any store in Maseno and buy a modem!
The Maseno Guest House has made some vast improvements. When I arrived, I was greeted by the smiling face of Daniel, who seems to be the biggest constant at this place… at least for the 5 years I’ve been coming here. Before you start thinking I’m living high on the hog, here are the improvements.
1. The shower has a curtain
2. The toilet has a seat
3. The toilet tank has a cover
Yup, it’s like the Taj Mahal here! I’ll have to let you know about the water later… hopefully we’ll have it, but I doubt it will be warm. We grabbed dinner with Noel across the street, and talked about our plans for the next couple days. She’ll come with us to Mbaka Oromo and the Maseno University Mission Hospital while we continue to lay the groundwork for the arrival of the students/faculty from the Wegmans School of Nursing at St. John Fisher in May. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll fill everyone in on that rather serendipitous occasion that brought our two organizations together. Great story.
Tutaonana kecho (see ya tomorrow).