Thursday, January 11, 2007

From Kenya to Malawi

The night before we left Kenya, we were packing until 2:30 am because we had gone visiting that day. If it were anybody else, I just wouldn’t have gone, but we were going to visit my pastor and they had been waiting for Dave since 2002. We went to church in the morning and had arranged with Pastor Kepher (kay’-fuh) to take us home in the minibus to collect our bags and then take us to the airport in Kisumu. Our time at home was VERY short because we were racing the rain. Once it starts, it is very difficult to get back up the road from our house and we would have been pushing a minibus uphill with 102kg of luggage inside if we’d gotten stuck. Fortunately, we just had to throw a few things from the morning in our bags and we were ready, but I hadn’t said goodbye to everyone yet. I said very quick goodbyes to all my family, but the problem was my little boys. I had explained to them for about two weeks that after David came, I would be leaving for a long time but that later I would be back. When it came time to go, though, I think only Brian (the oldest one) could tell that this wasn’t a goodbye like usual. I had said goodbye to the other two already and was crying and he really looked at me wondering. It was just too fast. So much different than I had wanted. Even now, I’m crying writing this. When I talked to Rachel (my host mom) that night from Nairobi, she said that the boys couldn’t eat dinner, that they were just crying and asking where I was. I felt like I had abanadoned them. It just broke my heart. Usually, when I leave, I put a lock on the door. In fact, once someone told Brian that I had gone somewhere, but he said, “No, she’s here. There’s no lock on the door.” But what they found this time was just an open empty room with no Sarah.

Well, we did beat the rain, but just barely. If we had been just a few minutes later, literally, we would have gotten stuck. So goodbyes had to be fast. We arrived at the airport in plenty of time. We discovered there, though, that we were only allowed 20kg of luggage each (44lbs) instead of the 40 we expected. We knew at 40kg each, we’d still be over. So imagine my surprise when they told us that we’d have to pay for 62kg of extra luggage PLUS again in Nairobi! So, of course after 4 hours of sleep, I just started to cry and he told me to go talk to the one who handles the payments. So I made sure to cry again (it would have come anyway) and explained in Swahili that we thought we were allowed 40kg each and that we’d have to pay so much here and then again the next day in Nairobi because they couldn’t check the bags all the way through. So he agreed for me to pay for 30kg just once, since our bags were late getting to Kisumu the week before from Nairobi. So I forked over $90, grateful that it wasn’t 4 times that and we reached Nairobi without any trouble.

We stayed at my friend Lucy’s house one last time and took a taxi early the next morning back to the airport. After checking our bags in, I realized that the counter attendant had only checked our bags to Dar es Salaam instead of all the way to Blantyre. We only had 50 minutes in Dar and knew that we wouldn’t have enough time to get our bags and recheck them again. So I begged him to help us and he printed out new luggage tags and went to track down our luggage in the back. This is also when Dave realized that the wide-angle lens (in a case) that was attached to his camera bag was not there anymore.

We got on the plane and waited a long time for it to take off. It ended up leaving about 35 minutes late, so we had about 20 minutes in Dar between flights. But the beauty of Africa is that time depends on people rather than people depending on time. We were late leaving Nairobi because we were waiting for passengers. We knew that they would probably wait for is in Dar as well. So, we went to the transfer desk where they gave us boarding passes and charged us another $160 for overweight luggage (we were switching from Kenya Airways to Air Malawi), we identified our luggage and were taken to the plane. Whew.

So we arrived in Blantyre with no trouble. All our bags arrived. We had no trouble with customs. Dr. Taylor and her husband were waiting for us at the airport.

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