Out of Africa - Into France
Trip Start Sep 08, 2013
13Trip End Oct 04, 2013
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Where I stayed
Services began pretty promptly at 9:30. After hymns, a prayer and a vocal solo, I spoke again, this time on the work of Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah in rebuilding Jerusalem and the temple after the Babylonian captivity, and parallels for our time.
After the service, I repacked to get ready to leave, and then Guy, Pierre, Koffi and I drove over to
Traffic was heavy and the moto-taxi drivers as aggressive as usual. There is no expectation of waiting one's turn or fair play or any of that. Most drivers will risk causing grid-lock for a small advantage in moving forward, and fairly often they succeed both in moving forward and in causing gridlock. This evening they completely locked up an intersection and each succeeding rider blocked it a little more, since the cars couldn’t move without hitting a motorcycle and they didn’t want to risk that.
The banging subsided and perhaps having gained some new respect my driver was able to move forward and finally clear the intersection. I arrived at the airport about 2 hours before takeoff, not too bad, and gave the driver a 3 dollar tip for his trouble – I’m sure he was pleased.
I pulled my suitcase up to the official at the door and waited for him to peruse my passport and itinerary and finally wave me through. Multiple flights of people had to pass one by one through each step of the official processes. One official at the door; one x-ray, metal detector security check (belts, shoes off etc.). Then to the check-in counters of which I counted only three, then back to one official to double check papers, two booths for passport control, and two lanes of the final security check (belts, shoes off etc.) then, finally, ahh, into the departure area. My Delta frequent flyer card got me in the business class lounge for a brief rest in some air-con, then back out to start the boarding process, which was only slightly organized chaos.
Another security check, this time done by Air France, had agents rifle personally through our carry-ons, then there was a finally paper check at the stairs leading up to the main hatch. We were all coated in a fine layer of sweat by the time we sank into our seats. I was interested to see I was seated in premium coach, for which I had not paid: a little more seat and leg room, better head phones, an over shoulder reading light, and being seated farther forward where egress is quicker.
As soon as the flight took off for the six hour run to Paris, I prepared for sleep. Since I had eaten, I could skip the dinner and try for another hour’s sleep. I think I slept about three hours on the way to Paris, where we arrived at 6:00 am.
After showing my papers to the agents standing at the end of the exit ramp I was allowed to head to the shuttle area which would take me to terminal G, a new terminal for domestic flights on smaller commuter airplanes. I spent the three-hour layover in the crowded Air France lounge full of a cross section of people who fly often enough to merit such a perk (such as it was). As it was, it was overcrowded. The passengers outside the lounger actually had more space, but not the free food and beverages or the extra status (for which, in my observation, people will put up with unusual things sometimes). I had some tomato juice, and a cappuccino and then left the dubious haven for more elbow room. The flight to Clermont-Ferrand left on time and landed on time a little before 11:00 am. There were no customs fellows on duty which was fine with me, so I took my suitcase and headed to the car rental counter. A few minutes later I was on the French autoroute cruising toward our festival site at Saint Jean-la-Vêtre, where I arrived about 12:30. I had hoped to sneek in unobtrusively – so I could shower and change before being observed, but the entry to the reception area where I could snatch my key, was in clear view of the restaurant where everyone was gathered. So my stealth approach was a failure. The warm greetings from old and new friends however were heartwarming! My wonderful wife came and kissed me and we walked to our apartment where I could make myself a little more presentable before going for a bite of lunch. I slept in the afternoon to try to get rested and adjusted and felt more-or-less together by dinner time when I could really go around and greet everyone.
Things are off to a great start here at this site, and it’s so encouraging to see so many old friends from Europe, the Caribbean, and North America as well as Asia and New Zealand. This is a wonderful time of year!
And I’m sure I will sleep well tonight!