Daniel and I walked to the end of the hotel's quiet street to look for a taxi. Before we even reached the busy street, a taxi had seen us and stopped across the street. The driver reached out the window and made a palm up gesture which meant "do you want a taxi?" I stuck my head in the window and negotiated. He offered us a proper price for our course, so we climbed in and rode the short distance to the BCI bank where I changed some money into CFA francs, which we would need to pay for our hotel and for the next few days in Côte d’Ivoire too.
Back at the hotel we had about an hour to work until Pierre arrived to take us to the airport for our 13:40 flight to Abidjan. At the airport we thanked Pierre very much and gave our best to everyone, then walked in to start the airport formalities. We showed our travel papers to the guard at the front door, then walked in and put our bags through a scanner and walked through a metal detector. Then we showed our papers to an airline employee who checked to see we were in the right place. We then waited in line for our turn to come, and finally checked in. Only at this point were we informed that the flight was delayed until 4:00 pm, two and a half hours.
Bad news and good news: a flight delay is rarely pleasant, but at least this gave us the chance to have a proper lunch. We walked back outside and negotiated a taxi to the Sarakawa hotel which has very nice pizzas in a garden restaurant just off the beach. The overhead fans helped keep the heat manageable as we enjoyed the views of the water and watched the huge lizards (18 inches – 50 cm long) chase each other around on the ground near our table.
We were back at the airport at 2:00 just in time to see the ASky ground staff server airline meals to the delayed passengers. I’d never seen that before on the ground, they had the metal boxes yo use on planes, full of meals and distributed them to the passengers on the same trays they use on planes. Our pizzas had been much better! I found my favorite small area in the departure lounge, a place where an air conditioner blows deliciously cool air (there are few places like that in this airport), and we sat and read for 90 minutes until it was time to board. I finished The Golden Ocean, and started my next book: Boyd by Robert Coram. This biography of an extremely influential but little known fighter pilot/military theorist is starting out very well.
The flight passed without incident. I had a window seat, which is not usual for me. I prefer the space of an aisle, but I was in the bulkhead row and there was a very large amount of foot room, so it was fun for a change to have the window. Especially so, because the sky was fairly clear and the small Bombardier plane didn’t fly too high, so I could follow our progress as we flew along the shoreline toward the west. I saw Accra clearly as we flew over, though I couldn’t quite pick out the airport. From Accra to Abidjan the sky gradually grew cloudy and we descended through thick cloud to approach Abidjan.
After landing, we took the bus from the plane to the terminal and stood in line to have our Yellow Fever cards checked, and for immigration which went fairly quickly. After picking up our luggage and entering the public, arrival area of the terminal we found the Hotel Ibis counter, only to be told we’d have to wait nearly an hour for the shuttle to the hotel; more passengers were arriving on later flights. I asked about a taxi and the hotel desk staff quoted me a decent price for an “air-conditioned, luxury, full security” taxi. Call me cynical but I had my doubts, and as it happened I was right to have them…. The “air-conditioned, luxury, full security” taxi turned out to be an ancient mini-van whose side door would not fully close. The shocks were completely worn and the air conditioning only worked when the vehicle was going top speed, which in the traffic snarls of Abidjan was practically never. At slow speeds, the air-conditioning functioned quite well as a heater. The quoted fare no longer seemed so decent, but you have to pay up front, so….
We jerked, jolted, bounced, and sweated our way to the center of Abidjan where we arrived after 50 minutes of traffic. I checked and found that I still had all my fillings. Paul and Michel were waiting for us in the lobby. They had been waiting for 3 hours since I hadn’t been able to contact them. My calls wouldn’t go through from Lomé and I couldn’t even get a text message to go out. They were happy to see us anyway so we chatted and caught up as Daniel and I completed the check-in process. It was dark by this time, so we didn’t keep them too long. We agreed to meet at 9:00 tomorrow morning to head to La Mé for the Sabbath service and a day of fellowship.
We freshened up, checked our e-mail (the Internet hadn’t been working well in Lomé) and had dinner in the hotel. We’re both tired from the day and from accumulating fatigue, so once again I’m sure it will be an early night.
Today Kossi Fiaboé came to the hotel at 08:00 to say hello. It was nice to see an old friend, and it was very pleasant for Daniel and him to see each other again. They remember each other well from the camp we ran here 6 years ago. We chatted for half an hour and caught up on family and other news, before he had to go on to work.