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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

All in a Day's Travel

Updated: Feb 26, 2023

So… during my week in Kigali, I received a few emails from Precision Air, informing me that my flight from Nairobi to Kilimanjaro was going to be delayed by just over an hour & a half.

It wasn’t necessarily a cool email to receive. I wasn't really overwhelmed, but I figured if I could manage 8 hours in the Nairobi airport, I could definitely suffer through 10&1/2.


I figured I could properly manage the time with some work I desperately needed to get done. I had put off my writing for so long, I was actually looking forward to having time to catch up. Nairobi airport seemed like the perfect solution. My flight from Kigali arrived around 10am and I made my way through the usual Covid check, security and border patrol. As soon as I was cleared through transfers and in departures, I made my way upstairs to the Food Court. There was a charging station, so I figured that would be a good place to hunker down.


I’m grateful my spidey senses didn’t manage to sniff out the bar located directly below... as an extended period of time in there would have been quite detrimental to both my work ethic and my frame of mind.

I was right about catch up time. I sat there working for hours, diligently making my way through my very extensive to-do list.


Nearing the end of my time in the Food Court, I was joined by a German girl. She had been sitting a few tables over for the majority of the time I'd been there, but due to my concentrated productivity, I'd hardly paid much attention to her. She was quite friendly… but as her one-sided conversation dragged, my enthusiasm with her company diminished. I politely apologized for having to get back to work.


She began to write in her journal.

Then she ordered fries.


When they arrived at the table, the server placed them down with some cutlery, a napkin and a bottle of ketchup.


No biggie.


Well... the ketchup sent her into a frenzy.

"OH MY GOD!!! It’s German ketchup! It’s German ketchup!!!"


Intrigued, I lift my head from my computer.

Excuse me?


She then proceeded to take photos of the ketchup, as well as selfies of her holding up the ketchup. Her excitement for this bottle of tomato sauce was beyond intense.


She was almost hysterical, exclaiming over and over again, "This KETCHUP IS GERMAN!" Unfathomable.

Heinz…

It was Heinz.

Heinz ketchup.


I couldn't help it. I threw my two cents into the conversation. It went something like this;


Me: “Um … I think it's American."

Crazy: "No! No! No! No! This is GERMAN KETCHUP!!! Don't you know Heinz is a German name????"

Me: “Heinz is international.”

Crazy: "Really?"

Me: “Ya… it’s the most famous ketchup brand in the entire world.”


SHE HAD TO LOOK IT UP!

Anyway... turns out I was correct. American.

Pittsburgh...


Then I heard my name.


It wasn't actually my name... but it was as close to my name as I'd imagine someone in a Kenyan accent yelling over an airport loud speaker could get. Add in the crackle, the muffle, the fuzzy and the base of a bullhorn... and you have...


Yo Anny Bridé.


Something like that, anyway.

It was only 7pm. Why would they be calling my name?

My boarding pass stated that my gate was supposed to open at 8:05PM. My flight was delayed until 9:30PM.

WTF?

It mustn't be me.

Was it me?

Did they mean me?

It sounded like... maybe me?


I BOLTED.


I have never packed up everything so quickly in my entire life. I ran down the escalator, pushing & shoving my way past the other people, hauling all of my heavy belongings with me. At the bottom, I found someone, who looked semi-official and somewhat important, standing behind a desk.


Despite my frenzied temperament and my nonsensical, frenzied ramble, I managed to explain the puzzling situation. It went something along the lines of; My name... me... point at the PA system... my confusion... my flight... the delay... the time... me... my name again... blah blah blah... pure panic.... more panic.


Ok... relax.

NOT my name.

NOT my flight.

NOT my time.


I'm a moron.

Back upstairs to ketchup girl....


Ok...


Try, if you will, to understand this with me.


1. My flight was supposed to leave at 8:00PM.

Fine.

2. I received a multitude of emails telling me my flight was delayed until 9:30PM.

Fine.

3. My boarding pass said that my gate opened at 8:05PM.

Fine.

4. At 8:05, I went in search of gate 15.

I had a bit of difficulty finding it, but finally located it. When I arrived, there was an enormous line up and I patiently waited for my turn.

5. When I eventually reached the front of the line, they told me I missed my flight.

What?

So... although it was only 8:30PM when I reached the front of the line, they told me I missed my flight and my boarding pass was invalid.


But... my flight doesn't go until 9:30PM?


Apparently I was supposed to be there at exactly 8:05PM... although my boarding pass said the gate opened at that time.


They wanted me to buy a NEW TICKET!!


In addition to pointing out the fact I'd stood in their absurdly long queue forever, I also pulled up numerous emails I'd received informing me my flight had been delayed. This sent them over the edge and they got even more confused. Finally, after much private group discussion, they agreed to put me on the next flight to Kilimanjaro... which, funny enough, left at 9:30PM... the exact time and flight they'd told me I had been delayed to...???


I didn't get it and I still don't get it... but I decided to remain cool, calm and collected. No crying, no complaining and no questions. I just took comfort in knowing I was on my way to Kilimanjaro.


The plane was old and rickety... and I couldn't help but think that the mishap had been an omen! Don't get on the plane, Jo!

I survived though... sitting in a broken chair, with my oversized pack strapped to me. It wouldn't fit in the overhead luggage compartment. I was the ONLY person that got off at the Kilimanjaro airport. It was whack having the plane land just for me, though I suspect others probably got on.


When I reached immigration, the border patrol flipped through my passport, threw it back at me without as much as a nod, and informed me I didn’t have a valid Visa for Tanzania.


Pardon?


I was done. I was completely exhausted with the struggles of the day and no longer in the mood to battle over money and Visas. I didn't have any more American money to foolishly dole out to anyone that deemed me a rich, white woman and I was definitely in no frame of mind to debate the fact, regardless.


No.


I wasn't having it.

I grabbed it, opened it up to Page 8 and pointed right at my Visa.

Multiple entry. A6. 3 Months. Valid until March 3rd, 2023.


Mic drop...


End of story.

Ya… he stared at it, glared at me… flipped through the other pages... occasionally glanced at his screen... and then handed it back.

"Go," he said.


And I did go... right back into Tanzania.


I will admit, it was a bit of relief being back. Of course, I had completely forgotten the currency exchange and because my SIM card was out, I had no WIFI or data to confirm conversion, so the taxi driver completely ripped me off... but I was back.


Back in Tanzania...


I hate being bamboozled.

I hate it.

I hate throwing my money away to scoundrels and swindlers...


Is budget travel over????

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