Yesterday and last night were long. Today was long and a disappointment. I’ll explain.
The ILP is to be held in Kenya, starting Friday evening, so we have a few unallotted days until then. After thinking things over, I decided not to just sit in Nairobi. I could combine work with some research. A one-hour flight away sits the island of Zanzibar.
The Prodigues were at the hotel at 7:00 to take us to the airport. With traffic we arrived about 7:30. Once again we thanked them for their welcome and said until next time, probably around the time of the Feast of Tabernacles.
After checking in, we waited in the Air France lounge, where we had some breakfast and coffee. At 9:30 we began boarding for a 9:50, which didn’t leave until 10:15. That would make our connection tighter.
The quickest most direct way to get from Reunion to Nairobi at this time is via…Paris! The African air routings have not recovered yet from the COVID catastrophe, so all the air links are not operating normally yet. Last year I had to fly through Paris to go from Dallas to Martinique!
So, we flew 13 hours to Paris, were supposed to have a 90-minute turn-around, which actually was much more than that; the Kenya Airways flight left very late for the eight-hour trip to Nairobi. 13 hours up, eight hours back. A day and a night.
We arrived in Nairobi 90 minutes late, and rushed to make our connecting flight to Zanzibar. We wouldn’t quite make it unless they waited 15 minutes which was reasonable since there were about 10 passengers heading there. But Kenya refused and told us the flight was closed.
They would put us on the next flight. "When would that be?" I asked. “Just after midnight” came the response! It was 8:15 in the morning. I ask if they could put us on a flight on another company. No, they said, they were all fully booked. They offered to book us a hotel room for the day. But since Kenya no offers transit visas on arrive, they would just keep our passports while we were away from the airport. I didn’t like that thought.
Years ago, the authorities in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia kept my passport for similar reasons while we were taken into town for breakfast during a long layover. When I returned, they agents couldn’t find it. That was a terrible feeling, and a situation that could have ended badly. Fortunately, they eventually did find it, so I could fly on, but I promised myself, I wouldn’t do that again if I could help it. We decided to spend the 16 hours in the lounge. I opened my laptop and worked on several different editorial and speaking projects through the day and pre-midnight darkness. It is a disappointment to miss a day in a historically important place and be stuck in a lounge for so long. Sadly, these are not uncommon experiences. At least I got almost all my pending work done.
Finally, about 11:00 pm we started to the gate and waited to board. The short flight left on time, arriving about 01:30. We went through formalities and picked up our luggage, then took the taxi the hotel had sent for us at my request. Arriving late at night in Africa, its best to take the precaution of arranging such a taxi, to be on the safe side. We arrived at the hotel on the edge of Stone Town about 02:30. We were let in by the night watchman but there was no one at the desk, even though they knew we’d be arriving about this time.
We had to wait another 20 minutes for a clerk to show up, so were in our room after 03:00. What a day, and night, and day, and night!