So - the journey begins - #11, I think - but can't be sure. It's hard to reconstruct 10 years!
Ned and I had a lovely, relaxed drive to the DC area, taking the scenic route through Warrenton and Manasses rather than 95 - not much traffic - and noticing the first signs of Fall color in the tree tops. Fitful sleep, but that's normal the night before I am getting ready to take off for an extended time. There were no problems checking four bags - likewise going through security. I was just giving thanks for the smooth, easy way things were progressing, when over the PA system I heard my name - "Please report to gate 44B."
Heart pounding and wondering what could possibly be wrong, I rushed to the counter and was shown a picture of powdered Clorox, which had been removed from my luggage. Yes, there is bleach in South Sudan, but it's not as strong as the US variety. I had taken it before, but I guess the rules changed. I had to fill out a form, complete with mailing address, so I guess it will be mailed to the house...
Boarded and in flight, I was served a snack of round Italian crackers called Taralli - that looked like Cheerios but twice as big - crunchy and tasty - and my tomato juice was served with a "stirrer," slice of lemon, and packets of salt and pepper - I liked it! Nothing memorable about the meals - the snack was the highlight!
I noticed my Ethiopian seatmate injecting herself with insulin. Her name, "LemLem," means "Greetings!" in her native language. "Are you a Christian?" she wanted to know, and when I answered in the affirmative, she replied, "Good!" with a big smile. We held hands and prayed together before the meal. How cool is that!
I survived the 12 1/2 hour flight - reading, eating, sleeping, getting up every hour and walking around - and it wasn't as hard as it sometimes is. Addis Ababa was 55 degrees at 7:00 AM. - surrounded by mountains, really pretty. I'd like to spend some time here, as I know there is a lot to see and do in Ethiopia, but all I ever have time for is connecting with flights in and out of the country.
Before leaving Dulles on Wednesday, I invested in noise masking ear phones, and they are wonderful! The big jets that carry passengers on international flights, are relatively quiet, but the "props" I fly "in country" are loud - irritatingly so. I worry about damage to my hearing. This was a good investment. Today, on the flight from Addis Ababa to Juba, South Sudan, I was blissfully unaware of the whirling propeller right outside my window.
Angelo Marac, my "Juba guy," and his minions, met my flight, getting four big bags through security and loaded in Angelo's car. I was welcomed with open arms at AFEX and given a nice big room. The IT technician made a house call and got my laptop up and running - gave me his phone # and said to call if I needed anything. These folks could not have been any nicer!
If you are curious, you can google AFEX, which stands for Africa Expedition. Located right on the Nile River, it is called a River Camp. AFEX is picturesque, with an outdoor restaurant overlooking the river, and I love staying here!
This is the rainy season, and it has rained most of the day - huge puddles everywhere. The skies have cleared at 5:00 p.m. here, and I am hoping for a nicer weather tomorrow, as I have a lot to do in Juba in a very few days.
Photos are of Ned and me at the Dulles airport before I left and my Ethiopian seatmate, LemLem.