Home at last
Trip Start Mar 31, 2009
23Trip End Apr 22, 2009
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I was able to sleep several hours during the night. We arrived in Paris before dawn this morning. At the last minute, just as I was leaving Nairobi, someone had e-mailed me, asking for a brief meeting at the airport in Paris. I was quite willing. So on arrival in Paris, I had my passport stamped as I officially entered France so I could go outside. It wasn't until after I had left the secure zone that he told me on the phone that he had to call off the meeting.
I had purchased a bottle of Amarula (a South African drink similar to Bailey's Irish Cream - but made from the Marula fruit) in a duty free shop in Nairobi. Now what was I to do with it? One can't take more than three ounce bottles through security. After finding out our meeting was cancelled, I went up to the Delta counter and asked if they could help. One helpful agent said she thought they might let me through since it was still sealed in the duty free bag. She walked me to the emigration control, where I had my passports stamped again as I officially left France. Unfortunately the security people said there could be no exceptions for duty-free goods purchased outside the Euro-zone. So the Delta agent suggested I go to the Air France purchase desk where they sold foam padded boxes, made for bottles, which would allow me to send the Amarula as checked luggage. To do that I had to "enter France" once again. So it was back to the immigration line, and stamp number three went in my passport. I bought the box, put the bottle inside and taped it closed. It was sent on its way as checked luggage and I went through passport control a fourth time as I "left" France. That made two entries and two departures from France in about 2 hour's time. If people ever go through my passport and compares the dates, they'll be confused about this day.
The flight to Atlanta left on time, and this time I had a free seat next to me which was much appreciated. I slept a few more hours and finished my second book of the trip. Earlier I had finished Dorothy Dunnett's fourth volume in the Lymond Chronicles, as much fun as ever, and I believe the best one so far. On this flight I finished God and Gold by Walter Russell Mead. The subtitle is Britain and American and the Making of the Modern World. I don't agree with all his conclusions, but I found the historical background and analysis quite fascinating and erudite. I found it worth reading.
My third stop was in Atlanta, where I had a two hour layover. It was long enough to clear Immigration and customs. Customs was particularly easy since my suitcase didn't show up. It either stayed in Kigali, or Nairobi, or Paris (or went somewhere else altogether!). Hopefully it will make its way home in the next few days.
The flight to Cincinnati was on a small regional jet, not my favorite kind. As I sat down next to the woman in the next seat, I apologized if I didn't smell too fresh. I explained that I hadn't showered or changed in 30 hours so by that time, there simply hadn't been the time or the opportunity. She asked where I'd been and we started talking. She was a doctor who had spent a year in rural Congo in her youth, and still travels on mission type projects in various places in the world. We had an enjoyable conversation about Africa, developing countries, travel for work and for fun and other such subjects. It was quite interesting.
When I finally arrived at the Cincinnati airport, Mr. George Evans had kindly come to pick me up since my wife was teaching a French class. We chatted and got caught up on our news as he drove me home, where I was overjoyed to see my family after an absence of more than three weeks.
Thanks for following along on this trip. If all goes as planned my next trip should be in July, probably to East Africa and Indian Ocean islands.