my flight back to entebbe

27 Oct

today’s blog post is taken off of my ipad – where i wrote a play by play of my journey back to uganda from djibouti:


Written high above Eastern Africa on a tiny airplane:

Sometimes I really don’t understand how I have ended up where I am. I mean, I do, but – how did I find myself on a tiny blue striped airplane flying out of Djibouti and into Ethiopia, before I finally end back up in Uganda, the place in which this small journey began?

I somehow managed to find myself in an organization of men and women who make their living by pretending to not be in the organization they are part of. On this airplane, there are 10 of us, but I have no idea who is who. Just a jolly crew happy to be flying out of the heat trap that is Djibouti.

(Additionally I have a lot of questions about my pilots. They’re maybe 4 or 5 years older than me and are wearing oakleys (not the silly military style ones) and act really cool haha – not the typical white haired airliner pilot.)

Addis Ababa, located in the high ground of Ethiopia will offer some respite, but my final destination will land my feet in equatorial Uganda where the temperatures don’t surpass 75 degrees Fahrenheit on the hottest day.

I arrived here on Tuesday evening aboard an airplane chock full of fuel tanks – not the best place to be in the case some sort of airplane malfunction. One the crew members said to me, “have you been on a C-130 before?” I replied, “I haven’t landed in one!” He looked vaguely confused so I followed up with a hearty, “airborne!” He then advised me to run in the opposite direction if he looked panicked – a pretty solid safety brief by my camouflaged flight attendant. “Also,” he said, “our in flight meal is an MRE.”

Wednesday morning I went straight to the dentist (I wore my ACUs to attract less attention) and had the orthodontic wire from the permanent retainer my Dutch orthodontist applied many years ago fixed. The purpose of my trip to Djibouti was completed in about four minutes. I boarded that plane thinking I could catch a ride back with them Thursday morning. Unfortunately that flight was cancelled and I was stranded in Djibouti until Saturday evening.

I only had necessities for two days. But, when the world says “stay away from work longer! Take a small vacation!” You don’t say no! So my trip to get a wire out of my mouth became a small R&R from my job back in Uganda.

Some highlights from my trip:
Sleep, cheesecake, counter space around my sink, a DFAC, a full gym, an American toilet, a real shower (bonus: water pressure!), finishing two books (Beloved, by Toni Morrison and Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut), writing endless pages in my journal, and sandwiches. (Also not having pain in my mouth any longer!)

So, a big thank you is in order to the forces that align my life and my weird adventures, but for now I’m excited to cease my endless sweating.

Update: stepping off the plane in Addis was the most refreshing experience I have experienced in a while. Chilly, crisp air that seemed to lift everyone’s spirits. I even had to put my fleece on. Now on the plane it is just the crew of this little airplane and the mood is much fun and thrilling – everyone is ready to be back to home base Entebbe! The funniest thing is how everyone uses their time in Djibouti (thanks to the NEX) as an opportunity to bring back junk food for their friends stuck out on the African economy. The seats that aren’t taken up by us are taken up by crates of Gatorade, bags of proper chips, and various tobacco products.

More recent update: there is something absolutely surreal about watching a lightning storm from above. Also, a few of you may know my strong phobia of flying. And today I’ve started to maybe realize why. Today I’ve spent a large portion of my day on an airplane and I haven’t been gripped by that demobilizing fear at all. I started to wonder why I felt ease, especially when looking over my right shoulder at the bright nighttime light show that is an African thunderstorm. And I decided it was because I had talked with and judged the character of my pilots. I liked them and they were funny and down to earth. No mysterious “this is your captain speaking” thing going on. No badges or uniforms. Just two people ready to get nome just like I am.



One Response to “my flight back to entebbe”

  1. Kimberly Cale October 27, 2013 at 5:47 am #

    Loved this! So happy that you arrived safely and enjoyed the adventure! And didn’t we fly and land in a C-130 from Panama to Charleston, when you were 3? Maybe that was a C-141! <3

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