Arrival in Africa
I arrived safely in Africa at about 9pm local time last night. There were 20 moderately anxious minutes where I was worried my bag had been lost somewhere between Anchorage and Ougadagou; little did I know the anxiety would get worse before it got better.
When my bag finally dropped onto the carousel, I walked out of the baggage claim expecting to see my wife dancing on her toes. Instead, there were 2 chauffeurs holding signs for guest houses, a few Brits wondering about, and a boutique attendant selling Fanta and crackers. I was one of the last to emerge through customs, and almost everyone from my plane had already left.
“Where is my wife?” She’d said she was on the outskirts of the city when I’d texted with her from the Paris airport. “Was she kidnapped while I was crossing the Mediterranean? Surely not. Is there a different baggage claim she is waiting outside of? The airport is small. Is there a traffic jam that has delayed her? My plane is 2 hours late. Could she have over-napped?”
For over 20 minutes I alternated between sitting patiently and wander around looking for her. Outside the doors a few others were milling about and waiting, and the lights of the shops across the street were dark. Still no Jessie.
My plan had long been to put myself on a very short tether while following her through this part of the world so that I don’t get lost. There had been no plan for not finding her in the first place!
Finally, one of the Brits waved to me from the doorway. “Me?” I gestured back? He nods and waves again. The relief of having been found after beginning to entertain a real-life Tintin-style search for my wife flooded over me. Across the dark street and through a gateway between the closed shops, was the ‘true outside’ of the airport, and my Jessie — dancing on her toes just as I’d imagined.
We hopped in a taxi and compared tales of the anxiety we’d each experienced over the previous hour as we rode to the guest house. She had begun to lose hope as the stream of passengers dwindled. She finally asked one of the Brits who hadn’t yet crossed the imaginary line that divided the security boundary of the airport, “have you seen a lost-looking tall American?”
“Ginger? Yes, I’ll go get him.”
It’s great to be here.