Monday, 22 July 2013

The Eagle Has Landed

John and I sat bleary-eyed at 1:00 am this morning waiting on a hired driver (with a van large enough to tote 6 suitcases) to take us to the airport.  1:05, 1:10…still no driver.  This is very unusual for this particular transport company so I attempted to call our driver.  No answer.

I waited a few minutes more then contacted the manager of the company.  She said she would try to get a hold of him.  No go.  She continued to try until about an hour later she found out he was trying to get to us but the garage where the vehicle was located had a jammed door lift.  He had been working feverishly to try to get it open, but left his phone inside the office.  A series of unfortunate events for the poor guy…

He arrived to us around 2:30, harried and apologizing.  We got everything loaded and he was trying (quite successfully) to make up for lost time.  I do believe we only "hit the high spots" as my father would say arriving with time to spare.

We pulled into the airport and were pleased to note that there wasn't any line for the security check or airline checkin.  Woot!  John did have a bit of a discussion with the airline manager regarding our 2 excess bags.  John paid the extra fees and we were on our way…at least to the gate.

Most everyone waiting at the gate was sprawled on the floor and chairs trying to catch a bit of sleep.  We thought it might be our last chance to visit Java House, one of our favorite haunts while in Nairobi.  We weren't really hungry so it was more of a sentimental act than actual dining experience.

As we began boarding for our first leg of Cairo, I realized that the plane would only be about half full.  The current events in Egypt have certainly been a deterrent for any casual visitors.

We arrived in Cairo in the early daylight and walked to immigration.  I kid you not as we were walking, Frank Sinatra began blaring on the overhead speaker, "I want to be a part of it…New York, Neeeewww Yooooooork……"  I looked at John and said, "Where are we?!"  He laughed and we continued through to purchase our visa (exactly 10 seconds and $15 each!) and then on to the domestic terminal.

We had already been through 2 security checks but alas there was one more.  These guys apparently took their jobs VERY seriously for they kept us at their little screening machine for at least 15 minutes running our bags through, tearing them apart, running them through again, asking questions…methinks they might have been waiting for some monetary encouragement to speed up the process, but John waited them out.  Finally, they shrugged and gave us the go ahead.

The gate was down an escalator where a group of fellow Aswanians were gathered.  As we descended (I am NOT making this stuff up, Frank Sinatra came on the overhead again singing, "Strangers in the Niiiiiiiiight!")  I really laughed this time.  About 1 minute later, a man announced we should board a bus where it would take us to the plane.  The bus zigged and zagged until we reached the plane.  The bus driver didn't open the door so we waited for the next 15 minutes to see what the scoop was…

A man came on board and announced there was a problem with the plane and we would return to the gate. Sigh.  Once unboarded they told us the full story.  Apparently the military needed the air space for the next 2 hours so we were free to go upstairs and relax, drink some tea until it was time to go.

I looked at John and asked him if he wanted to go somewhere we could drink something outside the view of our fasting M*slim friends surrounding us.  He said he would except he couldn't bear to go through the "security dudes" again.  I nodded and left him literally holding the bag.

I found a Diet Pepsi, sipped and used their free wifi until it was time once again to try to board.  This time everything went without a hitch and we were soon in the air to Aswan.

We landed and began to make our way to baggage.  As we did we were directed to the International Baggage location where we and one other family needed to go for screening.  I always dread this part.  We prefer to use the black totes rather than suitcases because they're durable and they nest when you don't need them.  However, they do cause quite a scene when these long black boxes began rolling off the belt and the two of us keep picking up tote after tote after tote.

John greets them in Arabic and begins the Customs Dance.  They ask what's in it.  He tells them things for the house.  They ask what kinds of things.  He tells them sheets, towels, pans.  They ask how long we're staying.  He says our visa says 30 days.  While one man is asking questions to John there are approximately 6 other men circling, looking, investigating what the foreigners are doing.

Finally satisfied with our answers, we are waved through and promptly greeted at the exit door by a driver who had been sent by our new Egyptian friends.  So kind.  We were so happy to see him!  He had a large van complete with air conditioning and peeps to help us load.

He greeted us and began the drive from the airport toward town.  We asked him if he would mind taking us to a grocery store.  He agreed and took us to the biggest grocery store in town. (Don't get excited…it's not very big.)  We picked up a few recognizable items pasta, veggies, chicken, flour, sugar, eggs and milk.  The place was crazy with shoppers preparing for the Ramadan sundown meal, iftar.

After groceries, we had one more stop at the phone store to purchase credit.  So far, so good.

We told our driver that we were finished and he took us to our friends' apartment located in a Nubian village.  There is another apartment here also that's under renovation we're interested in.  It's not ready yet, so we'll stay in our friends' place until it is.

Now we're sitting in the living room out of the Aswan heat (around 110, I'm guessing), drinking freshly made sweet tea and thanking the Lord for the kindness of friends near and far who help us, love us and pray for us.

The Eagle has landed.  Let's see what adventures are next…

Today's BOGO Blog:  7 Days in Cairo

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