Monday, June 15, 2009

Safari njema, 15 hours of ocean, Delta sucks, Kenya rules

So basically I 30 minutes and the internet connection is slow. I am going to write fast and try to tell the story of how I got here (Moshi, Tanzania) the best I can. I apologize if nothing makes sense.

Lets start with Bham where I triple checked with the Delta desk that the slip of paper they gave me was all I needed to get my bag onto Kenya Airways in Jburg and all the way to Nairobi. They assured me it was. I also saw some friends of mine from old Auburn. Josh Parker was leaving on flight to India and his Bethany was there to see him off. So it was cool seeing them. I then proceeded to Atlanta on tiny plane in which I had to sit on my carry on. Whatever. I had about a 6 hour layover in ATL. They had a cool Martin Luther King exhibit. I ate a big Mac then got on my 15 hour flight to South Africa. Fortunately, the only empty seat on the plane was beside mine.

Highlights from the longest flight of my life....I was on a plane full of Africans almost none of whom were black. I sat across from a guy named Loui who had worked on a catamaran crew sailing from Durbin SA to Virginia (needless to say I was jealous and enjoyed his stories). I watched 2 movies then fell asleep and woke up when the plane was immediately off the coast of Liberia where my brother Blake and several friends just returned from and I hope to visit one day. Delta politely denied my request to pull over. I then watched a special the plane had available on Quito Ecuador, it was pretty accurate. I watched another movie. And then slept some more. This flight was really long. The sun was setting when we took off in Atlanta and the sun was setting when we arrived in Jburg. They also kept advertising the direct flight from ATL to Nairobi which I got bumped off of. As if Delta had not inconvenienced me enough they had to rub it in some more. I know this is hard to believe but I also somehow managed to get my music station stuck on Jimmy Buffetts live in Anguilla CD (kudos to Delta for having this on their flight), and the word from grapefruit juicy fruit "don't you know it gets so blank blank lonely when your on a plane alone have never been truer. Anyway, I got off the plane in SA expecting a very nice airport, instead I was hurded into this solid marble room (airport purgatory) that contained nothing but chairs and vacant airline desks where I waited 4 hours for the Kenya airways desk to open so that I could get my bording pass and proceed through security. At this point the Kenya lady said that Delta had not given me the correct paperwork and my bag would not make it to Nairobi. We all had a big laugh about this and then she told me there was nothing I could do about it. But maybe it would get there. I then proceeded to the terminal where any anxiety I may have had was quickly removed by an 8 foot tall straw statue of Nelson Mandela. Being in the presence of wicker Mandela was worth the wait in airport purgatory. I was happy again and the Jburg airport actually is very nice.

My KQ flight to NBO was good and had excellent service. Upon arriving (the sun was rising when I landed in Nairobi) there I quickly cleared immigration and proceeded to baggage claim....where I waited in vain for over an hour. There were two other guys that left Atlanta with and connected through SA...they waited in vain also. Delta lost all of our bags (if my ghostwriter is reading this, you know who you are, quickly draft a second complaint letter to Delta and pull no punches, then report to Nairobi ASAP). I filed a complaint with KQ who said they would trace all of my flights starting in Bham and hopefully have my bag by the end of the day. At this point I had no faith that I would ever see that bag again but that was before I met John Kiare (i have to give a special thanks to Jack Ogutu - Auburn grad student from Nairobi for that).

So Jack put me in touch with John and he was waiting for me at the airport. And he waited a long time because I was stubborn and refused to admit that my bag was not there. Anyway, I emailed him a pic of myself and he printed out a jumbo version of it and was holding it up at the exit in Nairobi. I intentionally (and because they may or may not be the only clothes I own) wore the exact same shirt and hat as in the photo. But John didn't recognize me because I was wearing my glasses after the long flight. I don't blame him...he was expecting superman and he got Clark Kent. Anyway, we found each other and he was supposed to just take me to my bus but since I had to stay in NBO he became my gracious host. John, if you are reading this, I thank God for you. So I spent Saturday with John and we explored Nairobi and got me a cell phone (I called home and found out that it costs almost $1.50/min so I just want you all to know that if your phone doesn't ring...its me). He also prayed with me that my bags would arrive. After this prayer i had a little more faith (my timewatcher just informed me that I am down to 10 minutes so you can all see how fast I type). And when we called KQ later they told me my bags were there. Praise God and thank you John. All of my medical equipment and most of my clothes were in that bag....although I was starting to be excited about working at the hospital in a scrub top and swimming trunks. One more thing about Nairobi, within 30 seconds of leaving the airport I had seen four Giraffe and suspected that I was in Africa.

Sunday morning I hopped on my shuttle....Crap! I am out of time. I will be back with more. And in spite of my griping I was in a pleasant and adventurous mood for the entire trip and my airport experiences were not that bad (But Don't Tell Delta!). Peace for now.


  1. I am going to stick up some pics soon. especially of wicker Mandela. And now I am really out of time.

  2. Wow Trent! What an adventure-filled trip already! I can't believe your bag got lost...that's nuts! But if anyone can deal with that kind of setback, it's you! I am praying for you buddy! Keep the updates coming!

  3. And so the adventure begins! At least they found your bags and you got to see giraffe! You are in my prayers. Things are great in Auburn except that I have lost my voice. I guess I've been talking too much. I hope it comes back soon! Keep on blogging. I can't wait to see the wicker Mandela!

  4. 'Nert, that's what living is to me buddy, so glad you and your bag made it in one piece. I know you're off to be the King of Somewhere Hot over there on the Far Side...I'm jealous! Jambo, God Bless, thinking about you, look fwd to blog updates, and FYI our East Troy tix came in the mail this week. Peace

  5. Trent this is Amy Pickard. Jim and I are jealous you are back in Tanzania! We are praying that you will have an awesome time and a safe trip back. Tell a monkey we said hey!

  6. Bring me back some wildlife, please. An elephant, know, whatever you fancy.
    Also, Delta= of the devil