Reunited in Entebbe
We had a fifteen hour layover in Doha, Qatar. Hamad International Airport is modern and hospitable. We found a nice nook in the Food Court, with two tables and a padded bench. At each terminal, a “Family Lounge” featured something like chaise lounge chairs which made napping easier, but that was countered by jet lag.
I had thought I would not eat until the morning flight, to let my body adjust to the seven hours I had just gained. But that 2 a.m. sandwich the night before apparently sent the wrong signals to my stomach, because at roughly the same time I gave in to the hunger pangs. I ordered from the airport Burger King. It cost roughly $10 for a combo, which I suppose should be expected at an airport. What I did not expect was the larger size and superior quality of the food.
It seemed to take forever for our morning flight to be listed with the departures, but it eventually showed up. Then, 30 minutes before boarding, the flight info was changed to a Royal Air Marocco (that’s how they spell it) flight. I was told that Qatar Airways had subcontracted with them for this leg, so it was no problem. But when we got to the gate, it still showed the original info. This was confusing for those who were trying to communicate travel status to families back home.
The five hour flight to Entebbe had one hilarious moment for me. I woke to realize that lunch had been served and all five of Team Uganda was asleep. The attendant was in the aisle only one row behind my seat, so I signaled to her. “Am I too late?” I asked. “No, she said, “What would you like to drink?” I then realized hers was only a beverage cart with no hot food. “Actually,” I said, “I was hoping to get a meal.” “That’s not a problem,” she said, “I will get one for you.” She went back to the rear of the jet and I settled in for lunch. Then, a moment later, she very efficiently placed two cups full of liquid on my tray and scurried back to her routine. It took me a moment to realize what had happened. When I said I wanted a “meal,” she heard that I wanted a “beer.” By the time I put the pieces together, she was too far behind me to get her attention without causing a scene. Plus, a man was beginning to come from the front of the plane to collect trash. What was I to do? Well, what would you have done?
Soon after, we touched down. I loved watching the faces of those on African soil for the first time. Autumn was sitting next to me, and I was tickled because she actually squealed with glee.
When we deboarded, I found the totes carrying supplies neatly together on the floor by the carousel. One had been opened and inspected. The others were just as they had been.
Just as we finished gathering our luggage and began to move through customs, Brlinda and Kirsten arrived. They had been rerouted through Dubai. It was confusing and harrowing for them, I know, but I see the Lord’s mercy that after all that had happened, we arrived in Entebbe within 10 minutes of each other.
One small glitch – their personal checked bags arrived with them, but their totes of supplies were not to be found. We filed the paperwork for a search. Our hope is that they will arrive on the Turkish Airline flight that Belinda and Kirsten were originally rescheduled to take. If so, they will arrive at 2:55 s.m. and we can pick them up before our trip to Kyenjojo.
Paul was at the airport to collect us. It made my heart happy to see him again. I stayed behind to help Belinda and Kirsten, and to deal with the luggage paperwork, but the others went on to the hotel and we joined them when we wrapped up. The Acacia Beach Hotel is a a new one for us. It sits directly across the street from Lake Victoria. I stepped out on the balcony, took in the view, and breathed deeply that comforting, familiar, dark-roasted, earthy smell of Africa.
Fun moment – watching monkeys scramble through the hotel parking lot, climbing the walls and scampering up the roof. One had a baby clinging to her underside.
Food – ordered “Kuku wa Nazi,” chicken in a coconut sauce, with Basmati rice, which I washed down with my favorite drink, a Stoney Tangawizi.