There won't be snow in Africa but there will be rain
Do you know that feeling you get when you are the first to thread on a pristine white blanket of snow? It's a feeling of privillege to be one of the first to see the beuaty of a snowfall and a little feeling of remorse at having to ruin it with your footprints. Anyway at 3am on Wednesday morning last I didnt dwell too long on such feelings as my main concern was getting me, my baggage and the rental car from Lesson Street to Dublin airport.
By that time there was what seemed 6 inches of snow on the ground. The car was struggling to get traction on the soft snow, but fortunately no skids - though negotiating the corners around Merrion Square and Pearse Street were a little bit hairy I managed to get to the airport in about 40 mins. I was surprised to see the main streets of Dublin covered with snow, as well as the Motorway to the airport. I guess the gritting teams begin their work later.
Mood at the airport was good among the early travellers and staff - people snapping selfies with the unusual snow background as the snow contined to fall. By 4.30 I was checked in for my 6am flight to Nairobi with a 3 hour lay over in Amsterdam. At check-in there was no talk of delays and flights would depart. I even had time for for a last Irish breakfast. As I was enjoying breakfast soon the information screens were updated - my flight was showing a delayed departure of 7.30.
I had over an hour to wait so as I had not slept I decided to set my alarm and get a quick nap in the area of Terminal 1 that has nice stretch out couches rather than the standard torture chairs of the rest of the airport. I didnt go into a deep sleep but I didn't manage to wake alert to the alarm either. My heart skipped a beat as I looked at my watch - it was 7.20. I looked at the screen to see that my flight was on final call. I sprinted to my gate which was 211 but in the rush thought it was 221 and so I arrived at 221 to find an empty departure area. Had I missed my flight?
Then a moment of composure - I was at the wrong gate. Quick speed, and back tracking, I got to gate 211 to be the last passenger to board the flight. As I was boarding the steps of the plane I could see that crews were still de-icing the wings of the plane. I caught my breath, ( even took a picture) knowing it would be a while before we departed. I am one of those people who can always sleep on a plane so once I had taken my seat I knew I could sleep in comfort and arrive in Amsterdam probably still in time to catch my connecttion to Nairobi.
However it was after 8.30 before we departed from Dublin and on arrival in Amsterdam the flight to Nairobi had already left. The chaos caused by the snow was added to by the a computer crash of the entire KLM system leading to further delays. I was lucky to meet some very effecient KLM staff who were dealing with some very irrational and badly behaved passengers. I guess travel adds pressure on people!. Anyway I decided to be calm in the knowledge that the staff I was dealing with were doing their best and it was not their fault that snow was falling or that the computer system was down. I was very impressed with one lady who seemed to be able to manage two phone calls at once, assist colleagues with nods and signals and also deal with two customers - all at the same time. When I shared my impression with her - she simple said in that wonder Dutch accent - 'Vomen can multe-dask.' In time I was booked on a KLM flight to Dubai with an onward connection from Dubai to Nairobi. Rather than arriving in Naorbi on Wednesday at 10pm I would arrive on Thursday at 7 am. In the scale of things I was happy with these new arrrangements. But that plan did not work out.
The computer issues at KLM meant a significnat delay in the flight to Dubai and when I arrived in Dubai I was met by staff telling me go to gate D18 to catch the flight to Nairobi. It was 2 am local time. I had to negotiate a seciurity check at Dubai transfer section which took about 15 minutes to pass through and by the time I got to D18 I was met with some very sympathetic staff who informed me the flight was closed and I would have to wait for the next flight which was due to depart at 7am! Nothing for it but to enjoy the Dubai airport for 5 hours. It is one of the nicest airports I've ever been too and even though it was the middle of the night everything was open with very few passengers around. I found a very nice cafe serving scrambled eggs and smoked Salmon, and playing Ed Sheeran - I felt at home.
By the time I boarded the flight for Nairobi my legs were aching with tiredness and I strugdled to get comfortable. The first hour of this five hour flight was the most uncomfortable of the entire trip. After an hour, my tiredness levels got the better of me and I feel into a deep sleep waking just in time for meal time and with about two hours to go before landing.
Nairobi airport is one I like. The walking distance from the arrival gate to Immigration was short. The process of getting a visa on arrival took less than 5 minutes. I had learnt in Dubai that my checked in bags were still in Amseterdam so I did not have to wait for my baggage but rather make a report of delayed baggage. I found a very helpful memeber of staff of Kenyian Airliens who took my details and then I took the short 200 metre walk to the airport exit where John who runs a taxi business was waiting for me.
It was now nearly 1 pm and over 30 hours since I had left the snow of Dublin - to exchnage it for the first day of the rainy seaaon in Keyna and boy does it rain here! The picture below captures the aftermath of a shower of tropical rain yesterday. I am relieved to know that South Sudan is still in its dry season so I hope my Visa application for South Sudan goes well tomorrow and I can fly onto Juba teh capital of South Sudan in a few days time.
My baggage has now arrived from Amsterdam and the extra few days in Nairobi has given me a chance to see some of Nairobi, meet Jesuits of this Province and also catch up on much need sleep. God's providence at work! In my next post I will share some of my initial experience of Nairobi.
Thanks for reading.