Arrival in the Persian Gulf

Trip Start Oct 29, 2016
Trip End Nov 07, 2016

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Flag of Qatar  ,
Sunday, October 30, 2016

I've embarked on a last minute trip to east central Africa to visit church members in Burundi. After a two-year pause during which it was too dangerous to travel there (the US State Department is still warning against going: "The U.S. Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against all travel to Burundi." – but I’ve learned over the years they’re usually way over-cautious), it now seems safe, based on information from people in the country, to visit.

It was complicated receiving a visa. In past times one could get a visa on arrival. But with the civil unrest which started two years ago over a disputed election, the government tightened up the process. I had applied for a visa four weeks in advance of my planned entry to Burundi during my pre-Feast trip which was also to include the Congo, but I didn’t receive the visa for Burundi until it was too late to make the visit here. And the visa was only validated for a month, rather than the usual three, so in order to use it I must leave Burundi no later than this Saturday. There is still no word from the Congolese embassy.

After discussing the situation with Jim Franks and Doug Horchak, I decided a visa in the hand was worth two in the bush so to speak. So I bought a ticket two days before traveling, Qatar Airways offered the best deal, $2400 less than on Delta/Air France, and planned for a week’s travels.

My wife and I had just returned from our Feast of Tabernacles trip on Thursday afternoon. The festival went very well in both France where we began, and in Canada where we finished. Since I was scheduled to speak in Dallas on the Sabbath I’ll need to be in Burundi, I asked Pastor Andy Burnett if he would switch places with me and he kindly agreed. So I gave the sermon in Dallas, then immediately changed clothes and headed to the airport for my night flight to Doha, Qatar.

The flight left shortly after dark and in the course of 14 plus hours we flew against the sun, through a short night and a short day, arriving in the Persian Gulf just after dark once again. When I purchased the tickets, I checked the seat map and found to my displeasure there were no aisle or windows left, only middle seats, and hardly any of those. To my relief, upon boarding, it turned out there were many empty seats. I was seated between two (big) American contractors heading to Iraq. The one on the aisle moved up a few rows, and I moved over. In this Boeing 777 configuration, I didn’t even have a seat in front of me, so I had, if you can call it that, unlimited foot-room.

14 hours is a long time to sit on an airplane, but the flight went smoothly. As I was still tired from our previous travels I was able to sleep close to 8 hours, which is more than usual for me. The airport in Doha is new, very modern, and cavernous. I had to buy a transit visa to leave the airport, then took a taxi to a hotel I had reserved: 15 minutes, 10 dollars – quite good.

I went to the outdoor café, sat in the pleasant air of the Arabian desert night and had a mezze platter, some of the best of Levantine food, in small portions: humus, baba ghanoush, falafel, dolma, spicy lamb sausage, kibbeh, hot peppers, pickle slices, pita bread and etc. It was wonderful, though I missed being able to share it with my favorite traveling companion, who after France and Canada was home tired and a little under the weather.

I slept quite a bit on the plane, so I hope I’ll be able to sleep well tonight, before continuing on to Nairobi and Bujumbura.
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Karen C. on

Safe travels, Mr. Meeker. I know our brethren will be SO happy to see you!

Clyde Kilough on

Glad it worked out to take this trip, and I know the members there will appreciate it. Just getting ready to go out for lunch and your mezze platter pictures makes me hungry for Arabic food! Safe travels - you'll be in our prayers.

Beverly Lofty on

this will not let me "like" your blog :-( I will just tell you now, I read them all :-) thank you once again for taking us with you :-) (so to speak) haha

Carol Froedge on

Praying for your safety! The brethren must be very excited! I will be following your trip posts.

mary hendren on

Looking forward to reading your blog. We will be praying for your safety and the success of your trip.

Glo D on

So glad you are able to make these trips to see our brethren. I very much enjoy reading your blog.

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