Tuesday, January seventh
It was almost 11:00 A.M. when I got up. I am rested from the over- night flight to Europe. I walked up to Badhoevendorp center, about ten minutes from the hotel. I had an excellent sandwich at a place called De Herbergh. I asked the waitress what direction I should take for a walk…then I walked the other direction. She wanted to direct me to shops. I wanted the countryside and ended walking adjacent to the airport.
I forgot my hat. I was out about two hours wishing I had checked the temperature. It was freezing. I realized I needed to pee. There are few trees and no woods but there was a deep ravine near the security fence. Suddenly there was flashing lights and a couple heavily armed guards approaching me. A farmer had alerted security there was a stranger walking down the road watching the low approaching jets. I had never been so close to these powerful, noisy, incredible machines only a couple hundred feet above me. I was interrogated and warned and stayed out of prison.
My confirmation came through and new tickets had been reissued. I would fly out the next morning at 5:45 A.M.
Wednesday, January eighth
I was hit with a surprising $340.00 overweight charge for a bag I had checked all the way through from my point of embarkation. I was not going to win that argument. I sat next to a returning refugee who had been gone for five years. He was a big guy. I was jammed between him and the window…in the smoking section…with him smoking. Oh yes, those days.
There is nothing like the warmth, smell, humidity of Africa up disembarkation. It felt wonderful walking on the tarmac to the terminal. There are few jetways in the airports of Africa. The piece of luggage I had been forced to pay overweight charges never showed up.
The local taxi driver, named Abass brought me to a local hotel for $7.00 and $56.00 for the Kabalege Beach Resort Hotel. It is named after a Kalabewe King but he was not sure which one since sons often take the names of their fathers. The power is on and there is running water. A good start for Africa.
Thursday, January ninth
It felt good being in Africa. Some things do not change. There are millions of small flying bugs. They usually come out after some good rains. There are the same unfinished construction projects, broken tarmac roads, people walking everywhere, crowing roosters in the morning, the call the prayer. I was in Entebbe, Uganda trying to arrange the last leg of my flight to Kigali, Rwanda.
Even though there were nine people on the stand-by list, I managed to board the twin engine prop plane with a capacity of 20. I stayed in a four-bed guest room, not one of them long enough for me, with a bath outside. No hot water. I am in Africa, in Rwanda, where I will work for the next several months in a food security response to the returning refugees from Eastern Congo.