First off, let me just put it out there that I removed my shoes three times while still in Kigali’s airport. I didn’t like it one bit. But let’s begin by the beginning.
Well, I didn’t sleep Wednesday night, I spent the whole night pressing my clothes and getting ready. I didn’t sleep on Thursday either because I spent the whole night obsessing over what might go wrong, what thing I might forget and all that; and let me just say, as a guy who forgot his passport on the day of his Visa interview, my fears weren’t that unfounded (yeah I know, I’m not proud of that particular feat). What I’m very proud of on the other end is the fact that I’m gonna spend almost three months on the road with just a carry on yo. Some of you must find it easy, but for someone who is going for that long and all over the place for the first time I ain’t gonna let anyone mess the deep sense of accomplishment I’m feeling right now.
So yeah I got to the airport and met with the teammates and family and friends who had come to see us off and we prayed and got in. Now let’s go back to the moment after I had had my bag sniffed by dogs, x-rayed, hand searched (I don’t know what they expected to find), x-rayed again, x-rayed yet again, at which point I removed my shoes for the third time. We waited for a few minutes after that and then Gate 3 opened for us to board; and that is when the Airplane Experience begins, from my perspective of course.
The first element of the airplane experience is of course the mandatory selfie in the airport lounge that you then post all over social media with a caption that I dub “The Ultimate Brag”.
This is of course followed by one with the plane in the background, and we took some pretty neat ones. Then follows entering the plane, settling in and waiting for stage two of the Experience: Take Off. This is what they say about take-off: It gives you the fright of your life. What I got to see is that this statement is both false and true. False because instead of being frightened I was exhilarated. There are probably few physical sensations I love more than the little jump your stomach does when a car moving at high speed suddenly starts descending on a bit of steep slope, and today I got to learn that with a plane the sensation is 10 times more vivid. But the statement is also true for some, I learned it the hard way, with one of the teammates’ nails inches deep in the skin of my arm (and this wasn’t her first flight).
Stage three of the Airplane Experience is food, the unending stream of things to put in your mouth, some of them heavenly and some of them not (sorry Qatar Airways but that salad was horrible). Oh I almost forgot to talk about the flight attendants. One word: on fleek! Maybe it’s because this is my first flight, but I’m impressed. There’s this one guy, you would think he owns the plane. He just exudes self-confidence and assurance with his gait and easy, unforced smile, it took me a while to realize he was one of the people serving us. I’ll probably strike a conversation with him before I get off the plane.
Now to Stage four of the Airplane Experience:the lavatory. The ultra small cabinet that’s occupied 90% of the time you wanna go there, so you just stand there waiting, and end up having a lively conversation with an Indian guy (I thought he was Indian, or maybe Bangladeshi or something… he was definitely from the Indian subcontinent) about the distance from Lagos to Kigali.
Now of course no Airplane Experience would be complete without Stage five: good old Turbulence. This son of a *** surely gives the creeps yo. It’s funny how the gentle voice of the captain telling you to buckle up sends sets off screaming little monsters running amok in your brain. You keep telling yourself “It’s nothing man, you’re gonna be fine, most times it’s nothing right?”; then you hear that Gollum voice saying something like “Maybe this is one of those ssssometimes!”. Fortunately for us it was one of those most times.
We get now to the sixth and last Stage of the Airplane Experience: sleep; or rather the absence thereof for me. Right now everyone around me is asleep and I’m here all bundled up in my blanket writing this post because I can’t close my eyes. Let’s hope by the time you read this tomorrow I’ll have slept on the Doha-JFK flight because if not then I’m screwed big time.
To end this post, I’ll say this. I’m having a FREAKIIIING BLAAAST!!! That’s it from me folks, more posts from the team will be coming in for the next 10 weeks.