Well, here I am again. Sitting in an airport. We keep meeting like this. We left for the airport from our Chennai hotel at 5:30 this evening. The airport is only 8 miles away, but it took an hour to get there. Our flight to Mumbai was about 2 hours, which is where we currently are. It’s 2:15am – why in the world am I trying to write now? I don’t think I’m going to get very far though….
I was right. That’s all the further I got. Just couldn’t do it. So now I’m at the airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We have another 4 hour layover here, then the 5 ½ hour flight to home sweet home! The airport in Mumbai is waaaaaaaay nicer than this one in Addis.
But the landing in Addis was pretty nice – sunrise.
We actually had a seat between us on that flight, so that was a huge help. But flying in the REM hours of the night. It’s just ugly. What is it about falling asleep when you’re sitting up that makes everything ache. Everything. You’ve heard of the ugly cry? What about the ugly sleep? I kept waking up suddenly and realizing my mouth was hanging wide open. Talk about a pie hole.
And de-planing. Not fun either, after all the drool and creaking body pains. You have to walk down a large stairway, carrying your carry-on only to get on a bus and try to keep your balance for the ride to the terminal. The good thing is the fresh air slaps you awake. As does the very long walk up and down and up to get to security. Yep, you get directly off the plane and through security. Again.
Here’s the staircase
As I said we had a 4 hour layover here in Addis. There are restaurants here. Sort of. If you don’t mind fending for yourself. After a turbulent flight, I was looking for sparkling water to settle my tummy. It makes me burp and for some reason that helps. Two thumbs up for this ‘restaurant’ because they had it. The other plus (and I’m searching hard to find those plus’s) in this airport, is that they have decent wifi.
The gates going to and coming from Niger are down there. See the farthest gate with all the people? Thats where we’re going
Standing room only
Boarding here is just another word for ‘chaos’. Even though there is a boarding order, it’s really first come (aka push), first serve. It sort of reminds me of driving in Niamey. You’re minding your lane and cars behind you don’t think they should have to wait so they drive around (into oncoming traffic) to move to the front, pushing you back. That’s what this is like.
Then….we get outside to get on the bus (cause we’re not actually boarding yet – we have to be hearded to the plane first) and there is someone there snatching carry-ons. We’ve been on this plane multiple times and we know our carry ons are NOT too big. I’m carrying a backpack, and can put more in it then Neal’s small roller. Which is where we keep personal stuff and valuables we don’t want to check. We’re all about obeying the ‘law’, but what we’ve learned from experience is that they don’t take everyone’s bags. We asked nicely (at first) to let us take our bag. The man in uniform was pulling it from Neal. So Neal told him he would have to let him take everything out first. Fine. Mr. Uniform goes to retrieve a cloth bag.
While waiting and opening the roller, another differently uniformed man saw Neal opening his bag and said, “No, that one is ok to go on the plane”. Neal closes it up and Mr. Uniform returns with the cloth bags, instructing Neal to empty the contents. Neal tells him Mr. Other Uniform said it was ok. Mr. Uniform (aka Mr. Power Trip) indicated that Mr. Other Uniform had no authority to say so. He handed Neal the bags. After that, there may have been a slight altercation. Please keep in mind however, that we are coming off a 5 week trip and missing an entire night of sleep.
Here we are walking to the plane, and here are the cloth bags holding the contents of the apparently massive carry-on. I don’t have a picture of that, on account of the fact that it’s been snatched away. Hopefully it actually shows up at baggage claim in Niamey. But if it doesn’t, no worries. It’s empty. =)
I am finishing this post on our final flight. We took off an hour late. Maybe because of the altercation. Just kidding! Everyone was all cozy on the plane in plenty of time for an on time take-off, but apparently they were loading the plane with cargo going to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Thankfully the plane stops first in Niamey, however it’s possible the carry-on could deplane in Ouaga. And do you know what was really annoying? All the roller carry-on’s in the overheads above and all around us. Grrrrr!!!
If you haven’t guessed by now, Ethiopian Airlines is not our favorite airline, nor is their airport in Addis Ababa. They’ve messed with us several times. The worst being the time they took off 3 hours earlier than scheduled from Niamey without informing us. And there were no more flights to where we were going for 3 more days. It started a series of unfortunate events in a trip that had been planned for months. How did they handle it you ask? They said, ‘Oh, we’re sorry. We tried to call you’. No refund, no upgrade, only passing the buck. I could go on, but I don’t want to go down that road. Because I really am grateful for the places we get to travel and minister – no matter what it take to get there.
After all that you might wonder why we still use them. Glad you asked. Sometimes they are the only option out of Niger to where we’re going. Or the only reasonable option. Which is probably why they can behave the way they do. But believe me, when planning a trip I always try and look for other alternatives. They’re a last resort.
I started this post intending to write about our time in India, the 3rd country of our missionary journey. But I obviously took a left turn. Our time in India was amazing and needs its own post(s). – probably next time.
For now, I’m about 36,000 feet in the air over Sudan, and dreaming about being home. Not just my bed, but HOME. I think you know what I mean. (Though I am going to have to adjust all over again not having Tobi there…)
And now I’m home sweet home…in Niger.