Layover in Charles de Gaulle airport

Trip Start Mar 26, 2012
Trip End Apr 29, 2012

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Flag of France  , Île-de-France,
Monday, March 26, 2012

Another long pastoral trip begins. I write this from a departure lounge of Terminal 2F at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport; what most French people call simply Roissy, the name of the village on the northern outskirts of the city of lights where this sprawling air hub has been under almost-continual construction for decades.

I have 5 hours to wait now until the flight that will take me to Abidjan, the economic capital of Côte d’Ivoire, my first intended stop. From there, this trip should take me to Togo, the Congo, Mauritius, Rwanda, Burundi and the UK, with layovers in Kenya, Madagascar and Ethiopia.

The last days have been hectic as they always are in the run-up to such long trips. Many details must be covered in advance: not only must flights be booked, but budgets must be planned, visas acquired, hotel and transportation reservations made, contact people notified of arrival times and local schedules, credit card companies notified so that cards are not blocked when charges come in from another side of the world, travel pharmacy updated, bills paid in advance, and at this time of year, taxes filed, spring cleaning completed, sermons for the upcoming weeks recorded and sent out to areas with no local pastor, and work projects completed. Yesterday before leaving there was a video project to finish, a 2-hour webinar in which to participate, and various other tasks to complete, along with a welcome visit from our daughter Fiona, who is on a break from university classes, all that before my wife drove me to the airport at 3:00 pm.

The Delta flight from Cincinnati was not entirely full, which is unusual these days and it also seemed rather more "international" that usual. There was the usual contingent of business people both French and Americans, but also East Indians (The huge Indian conglomerate Tata now has a large office in Milford) chatting away loudly in Hindi, some indeterminate Slavs, and other languages could be overheard as well. I slept about 4 hours and woke as the flight map showed us just south of Ireland, about 90 minutes before landing.

Paris airports are always colorful. Sitting here in the departure lounge I can hear two African women speaking accented French, a Chinese man is listening to what must be a music video on his netbook, and he’s not using headphones so the music is blaring. A group of American college students is chatting about their trip, sitting cross-legged on the well-worn carpet. A rough-looking group of men speaking an East-European language walk by speaking loudly and gruffly to each other. Musicians carefully carry their instruments in hard cases, bearded Muslim men in long robes work their worry beads, slim stylish French women move about gracefully. I hear snatches of German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic and English of the British and Australian varieties. “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased…”

I’ll continue reading Martin Meredith’s interesting book, The Fate of Africa until I can have a bite of lunch just before boarding for Abidjan.
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Tess Washington on

Hi Mr. Meeker, what a delight to know and read about the beginning of your annual pastoral trip! I share your blog with my husband and a good trip who will also be delighted to read about your trip to our various congregations in Africa! Thank you! We will definitely pray for you, your family and our brethrens!

We are prepared to hear from you from these various countries! We feel that we are there with you even if we are just reading about it!

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