We made it to London late on Thursday!
It was quite the long trip. Here goes…
We left Meiganga on Friday, bound for N’Gaoundere, a few hours north. Hoping to get tickets for the train to Yaounde on Sunday night, to arrive Monday morning, we went to the train station. That train was sold out. But there are agencies that buy up large groups of tickets – so we went to one of them. Someone told us the owner was at prayer. We waited. He came back, and told us to come back the next morning (Saturday).
On Saturday we came back, but he had no tickets. We went to another agency – they had no tickets, either, but they did have tickets for Saturday night. We bought them, and that night took the 15 hour-ish train to Yaounde.
Staying there for three nights at the Langdji’s, the ELCA’s representatives for West and Central Africa and Madagascar, we left for the airport Wednesday morning, ready to come to Europe. And then the day got interesting. Arriving, we got in the ticket line, arriving at the front around 8am for our 8:45 flight. The receptionist could not read our printed ticket, being it “too blurry”. So she wrote us tickets while someone else took our printed pass and “checked it out”. About ten minutes later they came back, and told us we could leave. So we did, following the signs for “Domestic Departures”. What we didn’t know is that there are two signs for “Domestic Departures”, pointing in opposite directions – one leading to nothing, the other to the gold we were seeking. Naturally, we chose the former, then the latter, arriving at security around 8:30. We proceeded through security, each having our bags gone through in front of us by one person, zipped up, then by a second person. What did I learn from this? Scotch tape is ok, packing tape is not.
Around 8:45 we started loading the plane, taking off about half and hour late for our half hour flight to Douala. Landing, we got our bags, and walked out to the main part of the terminal, with no idea where to go. A nice airport worker showed us to a small cafe in the airport, and told us he’d send someone to help us.
This person came and showed us to the check-in desk…and then hung around for the half hour it took to check in. He was looking to earn a buck, I knew, but didn’t know how long he was going to hang around. As we left the check-in, he took Katie’s passport so he could “make sure everything was there” or something like that. I grabbed it back and told him off – I didn’t like the idea of someone else walking around with one of our passports. The guy left, saying forlornly how he could tell we didn’t need his services (which, frankly, we didn’t).
We went to a second check-in desk for the airline. Then the police clearance. Then the passport clearance. Then our passports were checked again about fifty feet away. Then we were asked about how much cash we were taking out of the country – francs, dollars, euros. Then we went through security at the gate. Then someone went through each of our bags. Then a second person went through each of our bags. It was a lot of different little checkpoints!
The flight from Douala a little left late, arriving late in Addis Ababa, our connection point. We had about five or six hours until our flight for London left, about 3am the next morning, so we settled in for a long night.
The flight was pushed to 3:30, then 4. Around 6am we got on the plane, and were told there was a small maintenance issue they were fixing and we would soon be airborne. At 6:40am someone got up and began yelling at the stewardess that the plane was unsafe and they couldn’t keep us on an unsafe aircraft and that the crew knew it was unsafe and were going to fly anyway and that we all wanted off the craft. I was awoken from sleep by this, then a second person who took up the cry of the first. And then a third. They were afraid the plane was unsafe to fly, which I and others around us thought was ludicrous. Why would a pilot and crew knowingly fly a plane that was unfit?
A little while later the pilot came on the intercom and said there was a software update they were doing. The TV screens hadn’t been working, and had a screen saying “network error” on them. It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s what was going on.
Finally around 7 we were told to disembark. The last people off the plane? The people who were leading the charge to leave. These same people had been complaining about being forced to sit and not be able to walk around. When we got off the plane, they sat down immediately and remained seated, except when they got up to spout hatred of the airline.
We boarded another plane around 8:30 or 9ish, taking off a little while later, about 6 hours after the original departure time. The flight itself was uneventful, thankfully, and we arrived in London about 7 hours later.
We spent some time in the city on Thursday night and Friday (yesterday), including going to Evensong at Westminster Abbey.
Now we are on a bus headed for Glasgow, where we’ll catch a train, then a ferry, a bus, another ferry, and possibly another bus to arrive at the Iona Monastery on the Isle of Iona. We’ll be there for a week – I’m super excited!!!