Monday 20th July was travel day for me, from my comfy home in Ham in the UK to a new home in Kigali, Rwanda. With a 04:30 departure for the airport, I didn’t sleep a wink in fear of over sleeping, plus nerves and last-minute packing kept me occupied.
I arrived at London Heathrow Airport two hours before take off for Brussels, which I thought was ample time for a short haul flight…I was to be corrected. The early morning Brussels Airlines flight appears to be the feed for the intercontinental transfers. There were a lot of people in the queue, each with multiple cases (myself included).
Sill in the queue an hour later, with 10 minutes to check in closure, someone from the airline decided to prioritize us and move us to a priority check in. Queue the run across the airport to make the flight! The flight missed its slot and take off was delayed. I was in a semi-conscious state at this point. About an hour later, we touched down in Brussels, for another airport dash to make the next flight. We were the lucky ones to make it. Others were not so.
So the first scream began as a child did not want to be away from both parents. The seating configuration they were booked on did not allow for the 3 to be together. There was a lot of shuffling around and changes of seats, with a screaming child and stressed mother, even as the plane was taxiing to the runway for take off! Luckily, I had a pair of headphones and individual TV, with FRIENDS reruns and The Hangover on queue to get me in ‘the zone’.
So I mentioned screams (plural). Well, after a tasty lunch on board, we were served ice-cream (pun intended…) It’s the first time having ice cream on a flight, and it is recommended! All flights should have it!
The transition through the airport was simple, queuing up to pay for a visa and then queuing up to get the visa. I have 30 days, and hopefully the extended visa will come through in the meantime.
The airport has free WiFi (as do most places here). This allowed me to communicate with Annie, a fellow PULSE volunteer, whilst queuing for the visa. Annie was in Kigali on a field visit with The Earth Institute. We managed to arrange to meet up for dinner with some of Annie’s colleagues (at a Greek Restaurant?!), and then for a drink at Hôtel des Mille Collines, aka Hotel Rwanda, before she flew out a few hours later.
A great start to my Rwanda experience.