I'm home. Finally. In the Adirondacks with my family. Sweatshirts, hot showers, and PANTS (!!!!) . . . I know, it's only been three weeks, but it feels like a lot longer. It feels so good to wear a pair of pants! And play teaparty with Brooklyn.
My journey home was not without event. But when is my life?
The SIMAir flight made it to Galmi on Wednesday . . . but the bus never did. The bus I would have had to take (if SIMAir couldn't fly) to Niamey broke down before it even got to us. And I got my second flying lesson. Flying a plane: so easy, an OT can do it!
We arrived in the capital a little before 5pm, and I only had to wait until midnight before heading back to the airport. The Niamey airport is really three rooms: the front lobby where you can get your tickets, the departures "terminal" (a room with a few rows of seats and three doors: gate 1 for "first class and those traveling with children", gate 2 for "business class" and gate 3. There was no label on gate 3, but its the only one we used) and the arrivals "terminal" (which was sectioned off: surfaces to fill out customs forms, a desk to get your passport checked, and the health desk to check your yellow book. There's one conveyor for luggage, and a police checks your stuff at the door). the Niamey airport is closed more often than it is open.
After check-in, I had to get stamped out by customs . . . but it was break time for the customs officials. So we stood and waited while they sat around and talked. After break was over, we all got stamped through and then waited in the departures terminal -- gate 3. The shuttled pulled up to the door: bottle neck #1. We had our carryon's searched and ourselves wanded. Then we all piled onto the shuttle bus. After everyone was on board, the shuttle drove 100 feet (no, you didn't read that wrong) to the plane: bottle neck #2. That's right, they load us up in the shuttle to drive us to the plane. Of course it would be faster and more efficient for us to all walk to the plane. But that would be too easy. You see, a few years ago the Francophone Games were in Niger. So in an attempt to be progressive, they put a shuttle bus at the airport. Who would have thought that "progress" would be the kiss of death for "efficiency."
After about an hour, we landed for a stop in Ouagadougou, Burkina Fasso (there's nothing else to say about it . . . I just like saying "Ouagadougou").
Arrival in Casablanca was without event. That is until departure time came and went, with no word. Suddenly, as a wave through the cloud, we hear "Your flight has been cancelled." The reason we were given: "The plane flying in disappeared off the radar." WHAT?!?!? I know, it doesn't make sense. But at least I wasn't on that plane! Those who came in from Morocco that morning were immediately sent back through customs and brought to a hotel. Those of us who flew into Casa that morning, were hassled about leaving the airport, so we stashed in the RoyalAirMoroc First Class Salon. We were delayed 13 hours. The day was spent wondering if we were actually going to fly out of Morocco . . . tryng to sleep . . . trying to organize the details of changing my train ticket from NYC to Albany via email (thank God for a very organized mother who insists on having her own copies of everything . . . thanks mom for all of you help!!). They had free internet for us, but the computers all had Frecnh keyboards . . . the "A" and "Q" are backwards . . . the "M" is where the ";" is and all the punctuation keys were in different places. The numbers and symbols were opposite (had to hit "shift" for the numbers) but the symbols were in different places than on standard keyboards. It took twice as long to type anything because I had to hit "backspace" every three characters. But hey, at least they had free internet for us.
I sat next to a very interesting old man on the plane who asked me how I got to Casablanca from Niger. "Is there anyother way than a plane?" He thought about his question for a minute, "Maybe a camel!" he laughed. "Nope, I took a donkey cart."
We finally landed at JFK, one minute after 02:00. Getting through customs was a breeze and my suit case was there waiting. I exited into the waiting area, searching out a place to park until 5 when I would take the train to the subway to Penn Station to catch the first train out at 7. "DEB-RUH!!" Man, I didn't realize how exhausted I was -- auditory hallucinations . . . that sounded just like my mom. No. They're 4 hours north, in Speculator. "DEB-RUH!!!" There she was. There's no mistaking that sound. My parents felt really bad that I had to wait so long to catch the train after such a miserable day, they left at 9pm, arrived at 1:30. We got in the car and drove 4 hours back. What parents!!
So, the morning has been spent playing teaparty, reading, and coloring with m favorite 3 year old, Brooklyn (pictures to follow). So. There you have it. Three weeks at Galmi, come and gone. Up next: language school.