I've been missing over the last few days because I was able to fly off to Kampala, Uganda for the Easter weekend. But it was literally through a series of miracles described below (written last Thursday) that I was able to get away.
As I write this, I’m very comfortably seated on a Royal Daisy Airline flight to Kampala, Uganda! This very fortunate can only be attributed to a series of believable miracles and the goodness of our flight officer.
I was originally planning to go to Juba for some work activities on Tuesday. I had hoped that I would be able to drive in however that was not possible and by the time I found out, it was too late to be booked on the Tuesday flight (the UN through World Food Program (WFP) who rules the skies in this part only fly into Kapoeta twice a week – Tuesdays and Thurday). So I got booked on the Thursday flight. Not realizing that this was Easter weekend (or I guess I knew but didn’t think too much about it considering I was thinking it would just be a regular weekend), I didn’t quite grasp that EVERYONE was leaving Juba and our entire office would be shut done. Then someone mentioned that they were going to Kampala (a 1 hour flight from Juba), and I got to thinking ‘why am I going to do nothing in Juba when I could be hanging out in Kampala which is an awesome city???’
I immediately asked the flight officer to see if she could book me on the Thursday flight (flights are only Thursdays, Saturdays, and Tuesdays). The main concern was that I didn’t know when my WFP flight would land in Juba and if it would allow me to catch my Kampala flight. We never know the arrival of the flight to Juba until 4pm the day before it arrives so I was basically a nervous wreck yesterday waiting for the manifest to come out and let me know when the flight would arrive in Kapoeta. A morning flight meant I could make the connection; an afternoon flight meant I was screwed.
A few minutes before a meeting with the local butchers, the flight officer informed me that my flight to Juba was in the morning however, whatever excitement I felt was quickly dashed away by her then informing me that the airline had not reserved a seat for me to Kampala as she had requested. In addition, all flights to Kampala were now 100% full and the most I could hope for would be put on the wait list. I almost cried and asked her to see if there was anything she could do and then ran off to my meeting.
When I came back, I found out she had worked some psycho miracle and got me a seat on one of the flights but it was a very tight turnaround between my flight landing from Kapoeta and me boarding this flight to Kampala. This morning, I arrived at the airstrip in Kapoeta and at 9:45am, a helicopter bringing census materials decided to swoop down on my runway and as always, the entire town ran to the runway to see the helicopter as if this was first time it had ever arrived in town!! Then at 10:00am, 4 minutes before my flight was scheduled to land, with the helicopter and Toposas still blocking the runway, on of the security officers gets a message that my plane is still on the ground in Torit (about 20 minutes away). Well, why don’t just shoot me and get if over with!! Twenty minutes later, the helicopter departs and before Toposas can fully cover the airstrip we get a radio message that the plane is arriving in 2 minutes and indeed 2 minutes later we see its wings in the skyline which sends Toposas scattering again.
As I mentioned in the beginning, I’m currently sitting on the flight to Kampala so I guess you can figure how the tale ends. I met a colleague at the airport in Juba and he told said that he should have taken bets as everyone in our office was betting that there was just no way that all the things that needed to go right would work out allow me to board me this flight, but it did. ☺
Below are pictures of some of the highlights of this morning’s flying experience:
Kids gathered around the plane.....
Helicopter finally taking off....