Sunday, September 23, 2007

Early morning – September 23rd 2007, Sunday.

Its close upon 0630, I’m sitting on my luggage trolley at The Gambia’s international airport, waiting on a flight. A helpful chap checking tickets jolted me by saying that my flight just left, ‘boom, he say’s the flight just when boom!’. Some gentle prodding clarifies that a flight had just left, though, according to him, they were not coming back. C’est l’Africque!

Well, the first thing that ran through my mind was ‘Oh shit, here we go again…..’ From there it was a to make a mental calculation as to how I was gonna make my connections… I really need to plan my flights leaving a little more leeway for such things. Fortunately, there is still some confusion. Apparently the airlines flight from yesterday didn’t leave due to bad weather. That flight left this morning and is expected back in an hour….. This could be true; this could be a lie…. I have an hour before I find out.

From Banjul I go (god willing, weather and the airline permitting) back to Dakar and then on to Freetown, Sierra Leone. I am looking forward to this part of the journey, for a particular piece – the mode of transport from Lungi International to Freetown itself – helicopter or hovercraft. Since I flew the former last time, I am tempted to take the later on this occasion, another first.

First’s are nice ain’t they? The first time you get turned on, the first time your heart pounded, the first time you flew….

And then, moments of perfection! I still vividly recollect a perfect drive. It was late one night; I had been to dinner at a friend’s about 10km away from my own place. I drove home that night, fast, changing down as I entered corners, gearing up as I pulled out of them. My trusty old station wagon, the car that I carried a sand bag in the first few months till I learn to handle a light weight at the back….

I’ve been checked in, though the skies are dark with clouds. Travelling during the rainy season is risky business here.

So far I have travelled Dubai, Accra, Ouagadougou, Niamey, Bamako, Dakar, Conakry, Dakar and Banjul. Over the next few weeks it will be Dakar, Freetown, Accra, Lome, Accra, Dubai, Addis Ababa, Luanda, Addis Ababa, Dubai and then Colombo.

Well, I’m en route to Freetown, finally. You never really know, not till the plane is up and off the ground that you are actually going to get to your destination – not that taking off is any guarantee that you will actually get there, but that’s another story altogether and far too morbid for now.

I’m glad that I am not using the same airline I did the last time, the one that managed to misplace my baggage on a direct flight between two points. There was actually one of them, flying this morning from Banjul to Freetown, was expected to leave an hour before my flight. The passengers were boarded, and I was actually thinking that maybe I should have taken that flight, when everybody comes back again, the flight delayed for technical reasons!!!!

So what finally happened was that I reached Dakar before that flight did and may have even got to Freetown first if not for the fact that my flight was 30mts late coming in. This is travel in Africa, almost always, full of ‘fun’!

The next scheduled drama would consist of immigration in FT, then to see if my check in luggage has come with me. Enough for now?

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