We said goodbye to Mrs. Prodigue at the school and then drove on down the side of the volcanic mountain to the airport just next to the ocean. I shook hands one last time with Mr. Prodigue, we hope to see each other again soon, and I went inside to check in. I had some time to wait in the departure lounge so I continued reading Decision Points, President George Bush’s recent account of key decisions during his presidency. I found it interesting and worth the read for the perspective it places on key turning points.
The flight to Antananarivo, Madagascar left on time in another turbo-prop AT. We boarded in a light drizzle once again. It took us 90 minutes to fly from Reunion to "Tana" as the capital city is often called. We deplaned, once again in a light rain, and walked to the arrivals area, where once again those of us who were in transit were instructed to follow an agent outside, and along the terminal building to the departure lounge. Transit formalities made easy. I had hoped to be able to use the Air France business class lounge to which I have access on international flights due to my frequent flyer status. But it was closed. So was the snack bar, so much for getting another cup of coffee.
So I sat and read and finally finished President Bush’s book which I started a few days ago. Next on my list was A brilliant Solution, Inventing the American Constitution
, by Carol Berkin. I’ll finish that one soon I think, it’s proving to be a quick read though very interesting and worth the time.
After a three hour wait, we boarded the Kenya Airways 737 for the flight to Nairobi. It was a relatively smooth flight with the interesting point of interest that we flew almost right over the island of Zanzibar, a fascinating place with a very evocative name. A few minutes later we flew very close to Mt Kilimanjaro. “Kili”, the highest mountain in Africa, was socked in – covered in dramatic clouds as it often is in the afternoon (this volcanic mountain is so large it forms its own personal weather system), but I recognized by location and through breaks in the clouds I caught glimpses of the snow on its higher peak.
Farther north as we approached Nairobi I could see the Ngong hills. Ngong means “knuckles” in Massai and it’s easy to see why that name was given; the profile fits perfectly. It was at the base of these hills that Karen Blixen (who didn’t look anything like Meryl Streep) had her famous “farm in Africa.” Her sometime lover Denys Finch Hatton (who didn’t look anything like Robert Redford) is buried on one of the slopes.
The plane landed on time at 16:00 after a three hour flight and a time change. My stomach started acting up again during the flight and for the rest of the day. I’ll have to continue being careful with what I eat and how much. My suitcase was the last one out on the conveyor belt; in fact I was in the process of reporting it missing when it finally appeared. It has so many hotel and airport stickers on it from many somewhat unusual places, that airport security often likes to have a look through it.
Traffic was thicker than I’ve ever seen it as the taxi took me into Nairobi, though the driver told me it’s now like that every day at that time. The drive takes 15-20 minutes when there is no traffic; it took us over an hour and a quarter on this drive. We remained motionless for up to 15 minutes at a time on the motorway, but we finally arrived at the Fairview Hotel, an independently owned hotel that in spite of rising prices, still gives good value for money.
I had invited some old friends, the Gichurus along with two of their grown children, for dinner.
They made the trip in from their family house in the Rift Valley to join me for a meal and to catch up on old times. We talked as usual about many things: the first time we met in Nairobi in 1999, what their young people were doing and what our daughters, who they have met several times, are doing. We talked about current events in Africa and the world and various biblical topics as well. I forgot to bring my camera so I'll upload a photo of them I took several years ago. It was a very pleasant evening, though I was quite tired by 10:00 pm and also not entirely well. So we told each other we hoped it wouldn’t be so long until our next visit (I used to work in Kenya and saw them often, now I just come through occasionally on my way to Rwanda or Burundi and have a very short overnight stay, not worth asking anyone to meet with me). I’m going to be right away, because I’ll have to be up early again tomorrow for my travel across the continent to the Congo.
Today was a travel day but also a day for visits with some friends. The Prodigues and I were up around sunrise to be ready to leave their house before 07:00, the time when Mrs. Prodigue needs to leave for her work at a nearby school. I didn't feel 100% when I woke, but did feel quite a bit better. We had some coffee and toast and had the chance to discuss a few last minutes things and we prayed together briefly before we left the house.