With 2 huge suitcases and a backpack so heavy it was painful to stand, I hugged my mom goodbye and went to find my new friend Ann inside the airport. Ann was also going on Elective Africa and we had connected through the program months ago and booked our flight to Mombasa together. Just when Ann and I were about to go to the counter to get seats together, we looked at our boarding passes and realized that we were assigned seats right next to each other. We did not book our seats together and it was a 747 airplane with hundreds of seats...what are the chances? It's a good thing we got along well because it definitely made the next 26 hours more fun-filled.
It didn't take long for the fun to start...minutes later I had my first experience with the body scanner, but apparently I looked really threatening that day and needed an additional patdown. This should have taken about 10 seconds but ended up taking 10 min. The lady kept touching my armpits, and as most of you know, I am extremely ticklish and couldnt stop laughing and fidgeting. After leaving MSP an hour late we were headed to Amsterdam, where I went through the scanner again and got another patdown. Somehow Ann managed to dodge the patdown both times...wtf
I was so happy to board the flight to Amsterdam. The smart thing to do would have been to try and sleep since it was night time in Kenya...easier said than done. The adrenaline kicked in that we were actually on our way to Africa that we spent the next 7 hours talking, laughing, playing scrabble (I got schooled), gin, UNO (not the best 2 person game...) and watching a movie on my iPad. Several of the conversations seemed to revolve around the 8 hr time change. For some reason, likely due to our increasing delerious state, we had a lot of trouble trying to figure out when to eat, sleep, take our malaria medications, etc... Somehow, I fell asleep for the last hour of the flight and before I knew it, we had landed in Amsterdam! 1 hr late of course...but we still had 4 hours until the next flight.
While waiting at the gate in Amsterdam we saw a group of people with Kenya mission trip shirts on. When I asked one of them what they would be doing in Kenya, he responded loud and enthusiastically "we're going to spread the word of Jesus christ." Not sure what that really means...Next we met these three people who were headed to a small town to go gorilla tracking. They gave us some good pointers on places to visit during the weekends. We killed some time learning about the "big 5" toughest animals to hunt and sipped on $10 water. Ann and I somehow managed to work the system at the gate and get our seats together after being told 2 other times that it was not possible. Im pretty sure she just moved someone without asking them...so nice of the Dutch KLM lady.
The next flight was the most painful since it was another 8 hours and I couldn't sleep...I was literally a wide eyed zombie with blood shot eyes. Luckily, once I reached that tired/naseous state, I fell asleep for 2 hours and then got another adrenaline rush once we landed in Nairobi. (1 hour late again...) Our three hour layover turned into 1 hour after we sat on the runway for what felt like ages. Once we got off the plane and cleared customs we were headed for our Mombasa flight. 3 people had told us our luggage was checked thru to mombasa, but for some reason I didn't quite trust them...after walkining thru customs and passing luggage, I asked about our luggage for a fourth time and the lady said of course you have to get your luggage here...seriously people?? Of course our luggage came last and we were starting to panic. We threw all of our bags on a cart and went on a hunt to find the Mombasa terminal. Not to mention how hard this cart was to steer and that Ann had to help push me to get over the speed bumps. Yes speed bumps. We had to walk outside to another terminal and our flight was leaving in less than an hr.
Walking outside to find the plane was interesting since there were about 5 planes with no signs up...we just followed a crowd of people hoping we were boarding the right plane. The flight from Nairobi to Mombasa was thankfully only 45 min. We sat next to a middle class Kenyan woman who told us such wonderful things about the hospital we will be working at. This is how she described it: huge disgustung, chaotic hospital with ignorant doctors, where people die all of the time when they shouldn't. Sounds great right? Luckily that flight was over before I knew it, and I was driven to the elective Africa compound where I slept on a top bunk on a rock hard bed with a mosquito net on my face. I thought I would never fall asleep but I was so tired that the next time I opened my eyes it was morning.