Ever wondered what 30 continuous hours of travel feels like? It turns out I have a ton of time to document it when not connected to wi-fi, SO:
HOUR 1: June 1st, 5:30AM EST
It’s here! After probably two hours of sleep I have arrived at my pre-departure location: Buffalo State campus. The delegation is carpooling to the Toronto airport, where we will all fly as a group to Africa. there are a LOT of backpacks and suitcases in the lineup outside the bus. I am ready. I am rested (kinda). I am hungry for adventure. I am noticing that the zipper on my backpack keeps getting stuck (likely due to my nervous fidgeting with it).
HOUR 2: June 1st, 6:30AM EST
We’re begun driving out to Toronto. Honestly, it's kinda boring. i tell myself to get used to the boredom, to help prepare for the long haul flight. I find myself reacting with childish glee over the smallest things - driving past Fantasy Island, the sun rising out the window... I make a pact to myself (the first of several on this trip): I will not be an annoying seat mate, I will not be an annoying seat mate. I can’t resist being annoying one last time before departure, though; I send annoyingly funny texts to my siblings before losing service in Canada. I briefly reflect on the humor that my last text message sent before 17 days of travel is of Detective Pikachu dancing.
HOUR 3: June 1st, 7:30AM EST
At the airport. We made pretty good time, without any serious issues at the border. Doug, our driver, hands off our luggage and says goodbye. I take note of his name. I want to remember the names of all the kind helpers on my trip, and Doug is the first.
HOUR 4: June 1st, 8:30AM EST
Cleared security pretty quickly. The flight doesn’t leave until just past 11, so we’ve got some time. I consider doing some shopping, but quickly stop after breakfast costs me over $20 (even with exchange rates…). Granted, it is delicious (Garam Masala spiced eggs and potatoes), but I need to conserve my money for the trip, not the airport. As I walk through the terminals, I take note of the plane. It’s an Ethiopian Airlines Dreamliner - one of the most technologically advanced and comfortable planes in the world. I’ve flown one once before, and am quite eager to do so again.
HOUR 5: June 1st, 9:30AM EST
A game of Uno has broken out amongst our group in the terminal. Two children who will also be on the flight have joined in. It’s intense. I lose by a wide margin.
HOUR 6: June 1st, 10:30AM EST
WE’RE BOARDING WE’RE BOARDING!! I was lucky to be booked in a bulkhead row - TONS of legroom. I’m seated between Drew and Molly (for 13 hours…yay…). I joke with myself that this could mean one of two things: I’m being placed in a position of respect alongside the two chaperones, or I’m not considered trustworthy at all and need to be constantly watched. I settle with the former.
HOUR 7: June 1st, 11:30AM EST
WE’RE DEPARTING WE’RE DEPARTING!! Takeoff is nearly silent. I make a pact to not watch any movies on the flight, just to see if I can. There are more children than average on this flight, and they are not shy about exercising their voices. I’m very happy I have my large, industrial, over-the-head ear protection.
HOUR 8: June 1st, 12:30PM EST
Drew has miraculously fallen asleep before takeoff and not woken up since. I’m incredibly jealous. I’m sure i look ridiculous - I have over the head ear protection on my head (headphones underneath, because why the not), eye shades from the amenity kit (they turn everything a light shade of gold) a neck pillow that’s comfortable but restrictive, a flimsy airline pillow and blanket for seat support (probably giving me sciatica), and a baseball cap that’s smushed on my face from everything else around it. Is it a wonder why I can’t sleep?
HOUR 9: June 1st, 1:30PM EST
SLEEP HAPPENED. SLEEP IS A GLORIOUS THING.
HOUR 10: June 1st, 6:30AM EST
CONTINUED TO SLEEP.
HOUR 11: June 1st, 6:30AM EST
Woke up. I honestly believe that my body got bored of sleeping. I decide to watch an hour pass without doing anything. It’s an interesting experience. I may blog about it later.
HOUR 12: June 1st, time irrelevant
I’m going a bit stir-crazy. What else can there possibly be to do on a plane??? I’ve stared at the lovely bulkhead wall in front of me for the past 30 minutes. it’s a creamy off-gray color. there are three holes in it to hold a bassinet if necessary. There’s a TV monitor that I'm too awkwardly placed to view properly. I stare, desperately hoping to notice something new. it’s a staring contest. the bulkhead wall wins.
HOUR 13: June 1st, time irrelevant
I caved and watched Interstellar. It’s a 3-hour movie. Yee-haw.
HOUR 14: June 1st, time irrelevant
Interstellar is still going on.
HOUR 15: June 1st, time irrelevant
Interstellar is STILL going on.
HOUR 16: June 1st, time irrelevant
Interstellar has ended. Verdict: Pretty good!
I’m still bored. I randomly pick another movie to watch. This one is Jim Carrey’s Yes Man. Rotten Tomatoes score: 46%.
HOUR 17: June 1st, time irrelevant
Movie over. Verdict: Pretty good! (note to self - to increase enjoyment of movies in general, watch them on a 13-hour flight).
On an unrelated note, my compression socks feel like they have begun to merge with my skin.
HOUR 18: June 1st, time irrelevant
The flight attendants keep feeding us. I’m not picky about quality (honestly, it was pretty good) but I've never been given so much items on a flight before. They aren't stingy at all!!
HOUR 19: June 1st, time irrelevant
aAAaghhh. I have to pee SO BAD. i made the mistake of chugging an entire bottle of water about 45 minutes ago, once I realized that I was showing signs of dehydration. Unfortunately, we’ve just been cleared for final descent, landing in an HOUR. why……?
HOUR 20: June 2nd, 7:30AM
We've landed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Despite this aircraft holding close to 300 people, we deplane outside on steps, and take a bus ride to the terminal. Everyone is so friendly. I have never been so hyper-aware of restroom locations in my life, but luckily they are plentiful.
HOUR 21: June 2nd, 8:30 AM
For the main airline hub in Africa, Bole International Airport (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) has fairly small terminals. Not that I’m complaining. I do a few laps. I buy coffee (but DON’T drink it before the next flight). I buy water, and remind myself not to drink the entire thing in one go.
HOUR 22: June 2nd, 9:30 AM
Still waiting on that next layover. I’ve been informed that our flight has been cancelled, and replaced with another that has the same location, but a secondary stop. At this point I’m so tired I’m kind of indifferent to this change.
HOUR 23: June 2nd, 10:30 AM
We go through security and sit down to wait again. I forgot that only 3 oz of water are allowed and I chug my whole bottle again (not smart…). I think about how bad of a decision that was for a whole hour.
HOUR 24: June 2nd, 11:30 AM
We board the flight. Not only are our destinations different again (stopover in Bujumbura, Burundi instead of Entebbe, Uganda before Kigali, Rwanda), but our aircraft is different. Even on a short-haul flight, Ethiopian provided another Dreamliner. I can’t believe my luck!!
HOUR 25: June 2nd, 12:30 PM
We’re in the air again. Honestly, this is starting to feel pretty routine, the flight is barely two hours long.
HOUR 26: June 2nd, 1:30 PM
We are served a full sized meal. I’ve never experienced this on a short-haul flight before! The service is simply outstanding.
HOUR 27: June 2nd, 2:30 PM
We’ve landed in Burundi, and the majority of passengers have disembarked. It’s very pretty! The airport is surrounded with fields, and a light breeze flows through the open plane doors. The passengers destined for Rwanda begin to board.
HOUR 28: June 2nd, 3:30 PM
We’re still on the ground in Burundi. The plane feels pretty empty, honestly. There are many empty chairs, particularly towards the front of the plane.
HOUR 29: June 2nd, 4:30 PM
I MADE IT TO RWANDA ON JUST A 1/2 HOUR FLIGHT!!
HOUR 30: June 2nd, 5:30 PM
Whirlwind of activity once we arrived. Cleared customs, got shiny visas, got checked baggage with no issues, rode to guest house, and wrote this blog.
SLEEP IS NEAR
I am traveling to Rwanda with the intent of a sponge - I want to absorb as many unique experiences as I possibly can, and bring them back to share with my culture. I am a multifaceted artist, and Rwanda is a treasure trove of valuable experiences to draw inspiration from. As a visual artist, I look forward to seeing unique handmade art, and letting it inspire an artistic vision. As a musician, I look forward to hearing vastly different than what I’m used to, and letting that inspire music from my soul. And as a teacher, I’m looking to see teaching methods different than what I have known. I want to bring these gifts back and share them with my culture.