I’m Welcome in Kampala

I’m Welcome in Kampala

Greetings from cool, foggy Kampala, Uganda, East Africa.

My trip started in a freezing cold plane in Amarillo, Texas.   The heater that they usually warm the planes with in the mornings after they have sat all night was not working and neither was the on board quick heater.   There I was in my sandals, looking all African-ready in the teen temperatures of frigid West Texas.   We were all literally shivering for most of the flight.  I’ve only had one flight colder and that was from Almaty, Kazakhstan to Semipalatinsk Kazakhstan in the dead of Winter with no heat whatsoever.   My pants leg stuck to the side of the plane when I slept.   I had to carefully peel it off.   This Amarillo flight rivaled it though, and I’ve not been so cold in years.

I met a guy on the plane that was local to me, living and working in Saudi in oil and gas and returning home from a Christmas vacation.   I love meeting world travelers on the plane because we always have lots to talk about, and share.   It is an elite group of people that travel for pleasure and for a living.  It is fascinating to know where other people have been or are going…  So that made the icy trip not so cold.

Houston to Toronto was uneventful and I even slept.  The funny thing is that this flight is new to the “Star Alliance” and the guys that drive the ramp up to the door, were not familiar with the plane so we had to all sit down until the door ramp could be properly aligned.  That took about 20 minutes.    When we arrived in Toronto the airport was so familiar.   Lots of nice memories there for me.  I met dear friends that I will hold in my heart forever the week I spent in a Toronto conference a few years back.

I was excited because it was snowing!  However when I got to the flight sign I knew I was in trouble.   I had only an hour and a half until I departed for my next flight but something was wrong.   They were unable to give me boarding passes in Houston but gave me a confirmation pass so I could get one.  That said it was a Continental-United flight on Lufthansa operated by Air Canada going from Toronto to Brussels.   My itinerary said my flight was from Toronto to Montreal to Brussels.  The only flight up on the board was not the number or the flights I had.   What a mess.   So I asked customer service for Air Canada, they sent me to the international terminal to the gate where the flight to Brussels was.   Unfortunately that was the wrong gate, the wrong airline and the wrong flight.   I finally found someone that was actually working, and she was very kind but told me I have to back track.   Now….Toronto has some VERY long walkways and no walk-ride on the way back.

Because I’ve recently had feet issues and have been told I need a series of  6 surgeries, this was not good news.   I walked until my feet were screaming.

I found my gate finally but yet they still could not get me the boarding pass to Brussels nor Entebbe.  All were operated by Brussels Air via Canada Air so their systems were not connected???  That was the worst part.   So I did go to Montreal after all, got off the plane, walked around the corner and sat to get right back on the same plane and the same seat to go to Brussels.  Ha.   It was strange.

The weather delayed us over an hour arriving into Brussels, and they have a very bizarre, almost Eastern European-like bus system to take you to another terminal.  It was time to board the bus that came every 10 minutes, my flight would leave in 10 min.  I didn’t have a boarding pass and they just told me to go get one at the gate after I wait there over 30 minutes with them punching codes and finally not knowing what to do with me since I didn’t have a boarding pass.   I had to run to the bus.  RUN.   My feet!  Because I had to go backwards, I had to pass through security yet again.   Yes this was the flight they picked me to unpack.   Sigh.

Running to the gate I finally make it but they have sold my seat, and their computer has malfunctioned and they can’t get anyone a real pass or look up much.  They take 20 minutes wondering what to do with me.  Now mind you I’m thankful that they waited, but it seemed logical to just put me in business class don’t you think?   So there was a lovely Ugandan lady that gave up her seat for me and they let her go to business class while she yelled at the flight attendant that it was just wrong that she should be disturbed and moved all around.   There was an argument that ensued and the lovely woman sitting with me said “I’ll be so very happy to change my seat…” knowing that she would get business class but the Ugandan lady kept mumbling about how put out she had been and how disturbing it was to have to move her own luggage to the front where she would be able to lay down flat as we flew.  What a deal.   I felt like a VIP since the whole plane was waiting on me and now staring,  and my boarding pass issue had finally been forever resolved.

I again got a very wonderful and delightful English seat-mate that has started a school in Kamuli area.   We exchanged information and since she was a teacher she gave me some resources for materials for the North. She had climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro when she was 50.   Where else can you meet people who have those kinds of adventures?  We both decided that economy seats having an interesting person to talk to was better in the long run for both of us.  We never did understand why they did not just put me in first class and avoid all the trouble.

I love the connections of wonderful people that God gives me on the plane.   Those people you know but for a moment, yet they manage to touch places in your life that will always be remembered.

The arrival to Kampala was so familiar.   I felt good this time, at home, calm.   My feet at this point after my legs being bent were like balloons.   No pain but just severely swollen.    I waited until I’d seen every bag 200 times go around the carousel.  No big green ugly bag of donations.   No black wonderful bag of personal items.   Sad.

So I fill out the obligatory information and inform them that I will come back to the airport myself to pick up my bags tomorrow.   I have to wait until the Brussels flight arrives then at 8:30.

I only packed half of a change of clothing, but the airport gave me a t-shirt and other toiletry items thankfully since there is such a limitation now on what you can carry on.

I finally exit and my dedicated driver has been patiently standing outside for about 3 hours since we were late.  I hugged him so hard, I was so happy to be “home.”  I adore this man and his ethic, his punctuality and his vast knowledge of Africa and tolerance of the American culture.

The familiarity of the guest house was so welcoming, and yes I was greeted many times with the Ugandan “You are very welcome!”   I so love that.

So that is my travel the first day.   I won’t even tell you about my feet.  If I was in the US I would be iced down and possibly seeking medical attention.  Here I will just pray.

Dogs barking in a predictable sequence all night.  Choruses of them in different locales…a concert of canines keeping me mostly awake, yet I didn’t care.   I had arrived, and here I collapsed into my mosquito net bed and smiled.  Tomorrow, I would have internet and tell the world my story.

Two puzzling things…

  1. I flew Lufthansa, but only saw their name on paper only, never saw a Lufthansa employee, never saw a Lufthansa plane.
  2. This photo above  from Kampala.   Now you know why the  traffic here so crazy!!!
  1. Simona says:

    This sounds like sooooooo LORI!!! I know you would go through A LOT to get to your aim. You are my inspiration! I love you!

    • Lori says:

      Why do I always have the travel issues Simo? The bad thing is that you aren’t here to help me out of it this time!!! Why? haha Well not every perfect thing leads to a great ending. So imperfect start must mean a GREAT accomplished ending. Everywhere here I’m hearing Happy New Year, I hope you are having a great one! I love you more sister!!

  2. Jody Peccia says:

    Lori

    i am so glad you made it to Uganda safely, i look forward to following your travels again. Keep up the good work and God Bless

  3. WOW, Lori!! I am soooooo in awe of you! Sounds like a crazy trip! Thankful you’re there and hopefully have your luggage by now. Prayers that God uses you in a mighty way and that your poor feet are healed and that you stay well and safe!!
    Hugs and love!!!
    ~Michelle

    • Lori says:

      I am in the dark car, in a parking lot waiting for the plane to arrive so we can call and see if we should drive all the way out there. Thank you for the prayers. These silly feet!

  4. Celinda Barrett says:

    Glad that you made it safely despite your travel mayhem. Will be praying for your safety, feet, and time in Africa. Take care. Love you!

  5. Lori Hetzel says:

    Hey stinky Lori! ha ha! just thought I would throw that in there. Hope your bags come in soon~
    I am so delighted that you made it safely, and were so warmly welcomed by your “Ugandan Family”. I so look forward to your postings.Your dinner looked so yummy!Please do keep posting pics of the food. Prayers for safety, and good health. Talk to you tomorrow!

    Love,
    Lori

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