Friday, July 03, 2009

Kreyol...and Kiswahili...all in one day...

I don't even know where to begin....

3:30am Wednesday came way too soon, mostly because I was up later than I should have been.  I got to the airport and soon was on my way...

I arrived at JFK on time and clueless.  I asked a few of the workers where I needed to go and they were short and all said "Emirates...Terminal 4."  Problem was, I didn't know where Terminal 4 was or how to get there. While meandering and wondering I hear this tiny voice...

"H..e...l...p... P...e...a...s..." And I couldn't resist.  I turned around and saw the most precious elderly woman speaking broken english with as much courage as she could muster up, and having been the person who was lost and confused in a foreign land I couldn't help but stop to help.  She handed me her boarding pass and again asked for help.  She couldn't find the gate, and seeing as I was having trouble following the directional signs I really couldn't blame her, at least English is my first language!

So I take her bag, and her passport and boarding pass and notice that she is Haitian.  I smiled on the inside.  I asked where she was from, she didn't understand, I told her I had friends in Haiti, she smiled, again did not understand, and I was reminded that I really need to start studying Kreyol.  I took her bags, and walked with her to her gate.  It was endearing as she approached the escalator with fear and trepidation, and humbling as I stuck out my arm for her to hang on to.  It was sweet to guide her to the gate at JFK that I have been to on multiple occasions, and to sit her next to someone who was from her home country.  I then vowed to start working on Kreyol...right after I remembered some swahili for this week. 

Our flight in JFK boards on time, we pull away from the gate, and then we sit. And sit.  And sit some more.  I will remind you that our flight was already to be just under 13 hours...and we sat...and sat...and sat on the tarmac...for 2 hours!  13 hours on a plane seemed unbearable...I wondered what 15 was gonna feel like, in the middle of the row, next to a man who smelled like he hadn't showered in weeks, and a woman who couldn't sit still...the migraine meds I took to kick the migraine out of gear came in handy and knocked me out for a bit of it.

We land in Dubai...and I am pretty certain I have missed my connection.  I had a 3 hour slot between take off and landing, that now was half an hour since we not only were delayed 2 hours but somehow took even longer to get there in the first place.  I start wondering how I will communicate with folks in Nairobi, where I am gonna sleep, and who is gonna pay for it.  And then realize, that being stuck in Dubai on the airlines dime might not be so bad.  I suck it up and join the herd of people trying to deplane.

As I walk up the ramp I hear "Nairobi...passengers going to Nairobi."  I tell her I am and the Emirates attendant tells me to wait, there are others.  So after about 6 or 7 of us are identified we are swiftly taken down a secret hallway via one of those handy motorized carts, rushed through security and the next thing I know I am on a plane.  In my seat.  Again.  Thankful, yet I have to admit, I was a wee bit tired of sitting.

Landed in Nairobi on time, was the first in line and out of the airport in less than half an hour and my heart smiled as I took in the gust of African air.  I listened to the hustle and bustle, overheard and understood the conversations in "African English" and Swahili, and smiled.  


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