Monday, January 23, 2012

Getting There

Thursday and Friday update

We woke up at 3:45am on Thursday and headed to the airport. Because we had so much luggage (mostly medical supplies) we arrived early to avoid missing our flight. Turns out we were early, so early that we had to wait an hour before we could even check in. Checking in took a while, they were really picky about how much our carry on bag weighed. So we had to take stuff out of our carry-on and into our luggage. I don’t know why since it weighs just as much in my carry-on bag as in my luggage… plus, once we boarded, the flight wasn’t very full so everyone had an entire row (three seats) to themselves!

It was only an hour flight to Brussels, Belgium and I slept most of it. At the airport I even had my passport stamped so I can prove I’ve been to Belgium even though I never left the airport. That way I can add Belgium to the countries I’ve visited. We had a 1½-hour layover in Brussels. Once on the plane there was an hour delay but I was sleeping the whole time. The flight was eight hours and stopped over in Kigali, Rwanda to drop off and pick up some people.

One interesting thing about international flights is the food. For my foodie friends I have an entire post for the food I had coming up. 

We finally arrived in Entebbe, Uganda at midnight. Customs do not move particularly fast in Africa so we waited an hour in line, plus we were next to last to get off the plane. Since we were toward that back of the plane, and were some of the last to exit, we also got to be almost the last people in the customs line. A driver met us at the airport and drove us 10 minutes to our hotel, the Boma. The Boma was very nice (by Africa standards) but seems even nicer when you drive through the town with mud huts. We arrived and by this time it was 2am. I liked sleeping under the mosquito nets too, seems quite exotic.

We woke up to a tropical garden with birds I had never heard before, chirping in the garden outside our room. Breakfast was delicious with fresh fruit, which I was very glad to eat after Paris where we ate well, but not very healthy.

We left at 10am for the airport for our flight to Bunia, Congo where we were told to wait for someone to take us to our MAF flight. Seemed iffy but I guess we stood out being white and having seven suitcases. We waiting for 1.5 hours till someone guided us to our plane that was run by MAF. MAF stands for Mission Aviation Fellowship and it is composed of missionaries who fly other missionaries and supplies to various countries. The plane was a small single propeller plane that could hold twelve people.

I had never flown on a small plane, so I was nervous about it, plus there was no stewardess, lunch, or cockpit door. They have to weigh everything, all your luggage, and you! Never been weighed for a flight before…  Thankfully, I’m not self-conscious about my weight and plus it was in kilograms so I had no idea how much I weighed, which was probably good after all the chocolate croissants I ate in Paris. The flight was 1 hour and 15 minutes long. These flights fly much lower to the ground then commercial planes so you can actually look at what you’re flying over and see all the houses. It was also a much smoother ride than I expected but when you did hit turbulence it felt different because you could feel the shape of the air. So if you hit an air stream underneath, you could tell, unlike in larger planes where it just gets bumpy. The MAF flights also transport various materials; in our plane there were bags of dog food and an extension ladder.

We landed in Bunia and the next adventure was customs.  Let’s just say they do it differently in Africa. Thank the Lord we had a friend meet us at the airport that spoke fluent French and could explain everything to the officials (he’s doctor too so he knew what all our equipment was) and help us get through!! Since we don’t speak any French we would not have been able to speak to them and probably would have had all the medical supplies confiscated. Just last month a missionary had brought medical supplies and had had it confiscated. We finally made it through with every bit of luggage.

We stopped for a quick bite to eat at the “nicest” place in Bunia called the Greek club. But we ate lots of pomme frits (French fries) and chicken, even though the chicken was the scraggliest one I’ve ever seen, I could have eaten two by myself. It also had a few feathers on it, but after our chicken butchering ordeal, we’re more used to that. Then we drove one hour up to Nyankundee, which is above the city of Bunia on a hill.

Bunia is incredibly dusty. The only paved road I saw was the airport run way. The city is quite large, about 800,000. Most people walk or ride small motorcycles. Absolutely everything is covered in red dust.

After lunch we headed up to Nyankundee. The “road” was more of a rocky path, something we would hike on back in America. Along the whole road are mud huts with people milling around and the women carrying things on their heads. There are also many men pushing bicycles with a huge bag of charcoal on the back to sell in Bunia.

We arrived in Nyankundee about 5pm and after a quick dinner crashed into bed.

As the days go on I’ll describe the food, culture, and surroundings.

1 comment:

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