A Long Day's Journey Into Night

Tuesday, April 11, 2023
Kigali City, Kigali City, Rwanda
Today was on of those “longest days” that is one continuous stream of consciousness, but which actually lasts more than one day.
We set our alarms for 5:00 and dragged ourselves out of bed. I had paid the bill last night, so we saved some time there. I had arranged with the hotel to have their vehicle and driver take us to the airport. Jean-Marie had said we needed to leave at 06:00 for our 10:00 flight to make sure we wouldn’t get caught in traffic gridlock. We understood what that meant and agreed.
We left at 06:00. There was already some traffic but not enough to slow us down more than twice and then not for long. Already at this hour there were many pedestrians heading here and there. Where can they all be going? I was struck again by how much garbage there was in the streets, on the sidewalks, piles of it here and there, all around. It's sad that people have to grow up with so much garbage around, they become inured to it and don't even notice it, or at least don't seem to.
We picked up the Protocols and they continues on with us to the airport where we arrived about 06:45. Jean-Marie took our passports and 120 dollars and went to get our exit visas ($50 each) and to pay our city departure tax ($5). Then we sat at a table and waited until the check-in gates opened, which happened about 07:15. 
First of all, security agents went through all our suitcases by hand. Not the carry-on, but the luggage to be checked. It’s a bit embarrassing to have the contents of one’s suitcase rifled through before a curious crowd. So, what do westerners have in their suitcases? Hm Western underwear... That done, we were able to go to the check-in gate, check our luggage on Kenya Airways, and get our boarding passes. I made verified twice that the bags were checked all the way to Kigali. At this point the Protocols said goodbye and until next time. 
We moved into another room, to the health desk where we had to show our COVID vax cards. Then we could go to the emigration desk to have our passports stamped. And the we did yet another security check with a scan of our carry-on bags. As we moved into the departure lounge, the original of our exit visa form was collected, leaving us with a carbon copy. We headed for the business class lounge which is shared by all the better airlines. We were only the second people to enter; we were quite early, but safe. 
The lounge didn’t have any food out yet, just beverages, the whisky carts were distributed around the lounge and there was beer, wine, juice and soft drinks in refrigerators. Marjolaine asked if she could have a coffee, and one attendant interrupted the cleaning cycle to make a cup. The signal screen was flashing “Wait! cleaning cycle not finished! But he made her a cup anyway. When it came, we discussed whether or not she should drink. We didn’t know what kind of chemicals might be used in the cleaning, but we did agree we preferred not to drink them. She waited a few minutes, checked that the cycle was done, and then ordered another, and I had one too.  
We waited until close to boarding time and then walked out to the departure lounge to board the bus which would take us to the plane. The busses were not air conditioned, and were pretty warm. At the plane we were made to line up on the apron and wait until small group were given permission to climb the stairs and enter the plane. 
We were seated on an aisle across from each other, but I had the window seat open on my side, so I move over and Marjolaine came to join me. I usually prefer the aisle, but if there’s a free seat next to me, or my fair wife, I don’t mind taking the window during daylight flights. It allows me shoot video and photos.
We departed on time for the three-and-a-half-hour flight to Nairobi. At times the clouds below broke up and I could get glimpse of the nearly impenetrable jungle of central Congo. In places the only way to move from point to point is by the rivers, of which there are many.
Later, the jungle gave way to Lake Victoria, a huge body of water and a source of the White Nile. Actually, the farthest headwaters from its mouth in Egypt are in Rwanda; they flow into Lake Victoria. So, it is arguable that the actual headwaters of the Nile are in the Nyungwe Forest in Rwanda, which I have traversed several times while on the way to visit the Burume family at Bukavu.
I remember, when I was young, reading stories about explorers trying to find the headwaters of the Nile’s two branches, the White and the Blue. It took a while for intrepid men to finally sort it out and there is some controversy yet today. But I was thrilled to see the Mbirurume and Mwogo Rivers in Nyumngwe, the sources of the White Nile farthest from the mouth of the river, and later the Blue Nile flowing out of Lake Tana in Ethiopia. I have seen the headwaters of the Nile. The two branches merge at Khartoum, in Sudan, (where Winston Churchill participated in the last ever cavalry charge of the British Army in 1898). I would love to see Khartoum too, but won’t unless things really calm down there.
Back to our flight! After clearing Lake Victoria, we weren’t far from Nairobi. On final approach we flew over Nairobi National Park, a game reserve right on the edge of the city. While on safari there, one can see the tall building of the city center in the background. I watched carefully and as we came to the landing strip, saw two or three large animals, either buffalo or wildebeest. 
Once in the terminal we had to go through another security check, before entering the departure area. We headed to the largest of the three Kenya Airways lounges and settled in for a long wait. We had arrived at 3:30 in the afternoon, we wouldn’t leave until midnight.
We had a snack and found a table where we could plug in our laptops. I worked on upcoming projects and read a few chapters of my next book: Flow – The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Csikszentmihalyi (try pronouncing that name!).
We had dinner, and waited some more, then waited some more. Finally, it came time to board. We pulled our roller bags down to the gate, pacing until they opened it. I was among the first down the jet bridge. When I arrived at the plane, I was surprised to find no one in the cockpit, no lights one and the door closed. Oops! I walked back up the bridge, against the flow, and informed the ground staff of what had happened. They checked their screens and said we needed to go down stairs to the apron and take a bus to the plane. Down we went. We waited outside on the ramp, until the same agent came down and said we needed to go back up. We climbed the stairs once again. She led us to a different gate on the other side of the departure are. There was our plane! We were finally able to board and took off just a few minutes late. 
The flight to Kigali was an hour and 10 minutes, but with the time change we arrived about 00:20. Filing off the plane we entered the Kigali airport terminal and went to the passport verification visa purchase line. In Rwanda most passports can get a visa on arrival. This is what we did: answered some questions, had out passports stamped, then steps to another counter to pay $50 each for the visa. This was quickly done. We waited for our luggage which took a while. Once outside we arranged for transportation to the Hotel Mille Collines. It cost 30 dollars and I wanted to pay with a bank card, but the card verification systems were all down. Finally, I had to go to an ATM and withdraw cash so we could get to the hotel.
We arrived at the hotel about 01:30. They were ready for us with minimal formalities, no forms to fill out.
After such a long it will take us a while to decompress, thankfully we have a light day, later today when we get up, whenever that will be!
Update: I got up at 08:00 to give some laundery to be done. And then slept until 09:00. I was wide awake, so I got up and started the day on about five hours’ sleep. I let Marjolaine sleep and went down for some breakfast. Then I came back up and started working. I answered Personal Correspondence questions from our French websites. Worked on upcoming presentations. I have two in the upcoming International Ministerial Conference and I want to get them right. There was other work too.
Marjolaine arose earlier than she intended, she was awake too. Mr. Mundeli, our pastor in Rwanda, arrived about 2:30. We sat in the lovely lobby area and discussed plans for tomorrow, and for the ILP in two weeks. Mrs. Mundeli has received her passport, so she will be able to come. It will be her first time to fly. I will buy their air tickets tomorrow night.
Right after the meeting finished, at about 3:45 Marjolaine and I headed down to the pool-side restaurant for a late lunch. We won’t have dinner. The weather is lovely, in the upper 70s, light breezes, puffy white clouds in a blue sky. I also arranged a 4WD vehicle for tomorrow. This is the rainy season, and the roads up to Giti where we’re going can be very slick. One of our previous drivers, a good one names Simon, who lived in Giti, slid off the road, and his van rolled down the mountain killing him. We’ll take as many others as we can with us in the vehicle.
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Cecil Maranville

Ouch! That airport experience is sure not a confidence builder! BTW, we are praying for the success of the upcoming leadership conference.


Praying that all goes well in Giti and that it's encouraging for everyone.

Tess Washington

Thank you! Sad to hear about Simon's tragic death! Praying for your safety & success on the ILP!