After 17 or 18 hours in the air and two separate flights, I’ve finally touched down in Africa for the first time in my life. And even though I’m all sorts of exhausted on the outside, inside I’m extremely excited and happy.
The adventure began when I left my home in Guelph Saturday around 8am. My flight was scheduled to take off at 11:20am, so I assumed leaving at 8am would give me sufficient time to get my tickets, deal with security, and find my gate. I also assumed it would take at least an hour to get to the airport, and up to an hour to get through security. In reality, I was waiting at my gate ready to board by 9:08am.
The first leg of the trip had a bit of a rough start with some minor and short-lived turbulence. From there on out, my biggest challenge was finding just the right position for maximum comfort on a long-haul trans-Atlantic flight1, and deciding which movie to watch first2.
A few hours before we landed in Addis Ababa I got my first taste of Africa. I looked out the window and watched as the sun slowly rose over the horizon. The sky turned from the darkness of night to an intensely crimson red. Clouds stretched across the horizon, blocking the sun’s rays as it eventually worked to break free from the edge of the earth. At that point, the hues somehow became more intense. The sun was a massive perfect yellow circle, larger than what I’m used to at home. It reminded me of a scene direct from a movie.
We landed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia a few minutes ahead of schedule. As I took my first step off the plane, I was temporarily blinded by the sun. Almost immediately I was hit with a very cool breeze – far cooler than I had expected. It gave me a chill, but one that was refreshing and welcoming given that fact that I’d been confined to the plane for so long. I took a deep breath and smiled, reflecting on the fact that I had officially arrived in Africa.
My next flight was short in comparison – only 4 hours. I don’t remember much of this flight as I promptly fell asleep against the window, at one point waking to find that I’d managed to position myself in such a way as to have my entire right leg fall asleep. After working through the pins-and-needles, I spent some time in a rather zombie-ish state watching the changing landscape roll by below. The ground was a patchwork of reds and greens, cut by winding riverbeds and small villages. At one point I was able to see what I think was Lake Malawi.
After touching down, I made my way through customs, gathered my bags, exchanged some US dollars for the Malawian Kwacha, and set up my phone with a local sim card. With everything seemingly in order, I headed into the city to the Korea Garden Lodge, my home away from home for the next 4 weeks. Given my level of exhaustion, check-in was mercifully pain-free. And so after putting down my bags, touring my room, and taking my daily malaria pill, I promptly collapsed into bed for a much-needed, fully reclined, uninterrupted nap.
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1 For the record: next to impossible.
2 I opted for Point Break, Our Story is Crisis, and then Kung Fu Panda III. I may or may not have watched other movies between these three, but I honestly can’t remember them.