“Ma’am, I must tell you that you missed your connecting flight to Entebbe, so make sure you make arrangements to spend the night in Addis Ababa when you arrive, ok? Don’t worry, your bag will go straight to Entebbe.”, says the beautiful stewardess when asked if she thought my bag would make it all the way to Entebbe, even though I have a short connection time. Ugh. I must arrive in Uganda tonight because I have a 5-hour drive tomorrow to a city called Fortportal, from where we’ll visit a couple hospitals AFCA supports.
My prayer is now that not only will my bag make it, but that I will make it on time, as well.
I hear her words, but can’t believe them, for some reason, so when the plane lands in Addis, I start the slow process of pushing my way through the full plane. First, I backtrack to get my backpack, which is housed 10 rows behind me. Then, I push forward, “excuse me, excuse me. I need to get through.” I make it to the front and the same stewardess says, “RUN”, so I take off as fast as I can, with my heavy backpack bouncing against my back, a book, passport and water bottle in hand. I show my yellow fever card in a flash and keep going. I yell, “Entebbe??” to anyone with a uniform and they point towards the end of the terminal and say, “RUN!”. So, I run. The down escalator is slow, so I run down a long flight. Then, back up another, drink all my water, take off my shoes, remove the laptop from my bag, and clear security. Everything back in the backpack and I hear, “If anyone is going to Entebbe, the flight is leaving…run!”. Finally, I am on the plane, sweaty, with trembling legs, but giddy with happiness.
I have no explanation for what happened, as the first flight left Mombasa 45 minutes late and the flight from Addis left on time. By all calculations, I should have missed my flight by 25 minutes. Instead, I sit busy, thanking God for this gift of a flight. We arrive at midnight and I almost cry with relief when I see my bag on the carrousel. Such a first world problem, I know, but in that bag, I have water filters, solar lights, stethoscopes, and other items for some hospitals I am visiting this week. My hosts keep commenting on how lightly I travel, as I only have one bag, but if they knew that only a 1/8 of what is in there is mine, they’d offer to take me shopping!
With my tiny knife confiscated at the Mombasa airport – I made it through 6 prior international flights! – I have no way of cutting the zip ties from my suitcase. At 1:30am, the hotel kitchen is closed, but I sneak around and easily find a knife behind the counter. No steak knives are available, so it takes me what seems like forever to saw through the zip tie. My fingers are sore, but the job is done.
I fall asleep after 2am and awake to the sounds of a church in full swing close by. The music is amazing, full of soul and rhythm, which is a good thing, as I prefer to sleep some more. After a good shower, I drink the darkest cup of coffee ever offered me, eat samosas, and am ready for the driver to pick me up to start my Ugandan adventures.