Sunday, May 26, 2013

Mis-Adventures while Adventuring...

Some famous person once said, "Humans plan; God laughs." Well, the Holy One has surely been rolling in the aisles at our very human travel misadventures. They all began on our third day out when we arrived at the airport in Nairobi in what we thought was plenty of time for our flight to Kigali, only to be told at the sign-in counter that we were late for our flight; it had already departed. After I got over the initial shock, I waved my email confirmation in front of the clerk, a confirmation which clearly stated that we were confirmed for a flight leaving Nairobi at 12:45p.m. that day- only there was no flight at that time and the flight number indicated on my email was the one which had just departed for Kigali- with us clearly NOT aboard. 

Time was then spent at the Kenya Airways ticket counter, attempting to explain our predicament to a trying-to-be-helpful Kenyan clerk for whom English was clearly his second language. Finally, understanding was reached and he was able to put us on another flight, this one departing at 3p.m. By this time, it was about ten a.m., so we were faced with a five-hour airport wait...believe me, they were well-acquainted with us at the Java Hut by the time our flight boarded. Okay...misadventure Number One...no big deal, really, since I was able to phone and email to let our guest house accommodations as well as our friend, Simon, know that we would be arriving late.

Misadventure Two: After a wonderful time in Kigali and a return to Nairobi, we had arranged- via Facebook messages- to meet a friend at his lovely shop and then go to lunch. Problem was, he sent us the name Westgate for the shopping plaza and when we arrived there, it became quickly obvious that it was the wrong place. After making inquiries, we finally learned from a delightful young woman, hostess at the restaurant where we finally decided to eat, that the shopping area we wanted was called Village Market. Yes, it was indeed in the Westland area of the city but was not called Westgate. And I had neither the phone number of our taxi driver nor the one of our friend...so we enjoyed a delectable late lunch at a Tapas restaurant at Westgate, and returned to the Wildebeest without seeing our friend.

Misadventure Three: On the day we were leaving Kenya, with bags packed, bill paid, and all in readiness for travel, I happened to check my emails one last time and was confronted by a communication from KLM, stating- with sincerest apologies- that, due to overbooking (they called it "overselling") ", we had been placed on a Kenya Airways flight to Paris, where we would then catch a flight via Air France to Amsterdam. I won't go into detail here, as I have already devoted another blog post to this but it certainly added to the stress of the intercontinental travel.

Now you might think- along with us- that the third time was the charm and all should be smooth sailing from that time forward...but,no. It was not to be. 
When we reached Amsterdam and went to retrieve our luggage at baggage carousel 11, we watched and waited and waited and watched, but no luggage. Finally the electronic sign over the carousel informed us that ALL luggage from our Site France flight has been unloaded and our gray bags were clearly NOT here. So it was off to the KLM service counter where, after a short wait, a pleasant and helpful airlines employee did some checking and assured us that our itinerant luggage would arrive on the next flight from Paris and we would be able to retrieve it at carousel 9- in about 35minutes. And sure enough, even as we waited with bated breath for its appearance, there it was on the slowly-moving belt and we lifted it off with complete relief, headed for the buses, and reached our B&B only for hours later than we were scheduled. Again, email had enabled me to communicate the unexpected changes to our host. So ended Misadventure Four.

And then came last evening. Enter Misadventure Five. After a busy day of walking and sightseeing and picture-taking, we had returned to our B&B to change for dinner and the evening concert at the Concertgibou. Dinner at the Cafe American was wonderful- both relaxing and delicious- and we set off to walk to the concert hall in high spirits. Reaching the impressive structure, we went to the box office to retrieve our tickets, armed once again with the email printout of our ticket confirmation. It felt like deja vu all over again when the young woman at the window, after typing the confirmation number into her computer, said sweetly, "But your tickets are for Monday evening." Ever see the eyes of a deer caught in the headlights? I'm sure that would have accurately described my look as I heard those words- but she was absolutely right. There in front of me, hidden in the forest of computer printout jargon was the date 27 May 2013- and I had totally missed it. Apparently the concert was fully booked for Saturday and so the online box office booked us for Monday- and somehow I totally missed it. 

So, we got our tickets for Monday evening and they are safely tucked into my purse. And we walked back to our B&B, window shopping and laughing all the way. It just struck us as so funny that we simply could not stop laughing, this string of misadventures which has marked our lovely trip. And as we reflected on them, we realized how inconsequential they really were. Each time, each one, worked out. Nothing dreadful happened; and we've learned a great deal about the serenity- and laughter- which can result from accepting that which we cannot change...from letting go of the need to control...from simply being IN the moment as it presents itself and being grateful for what is- each and every day, no matter what. 

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