As an alumni of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA), I’ve agreed to be a guest contributor to their new department blog. I expect to do this only sparingly, but who knows? Check out my first post here, where I discuss the problem of cluster bombs and Canada’s ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM).
After a very informative and quite enjoyable four-day training session in Ottawa with my fellow Young-Proffessionals (YPs), it was time to say goodbye, pack my bags, re-pack my bags, clean my apartment, and then re-pack my bags one more time.
In what seemed like a flash, I was aboard my flight from Ottawa to Entebbe Uganda with quick stops in Montreal, Brussels, and Kigali. There was almost no time to fully comprehend the emotion of leaving for an extended time (I am sure that will come in time), but friends and family all made sure to keep my phone ringing all weekend.
The flights were as non-eventful, minus a last minute go-around on final approach to Entebbe which delayed our landing by about 10 mins. Once on the ground I was made blissfully aware that this new home was nothing like the piles of snow Ottawa was receiving. 25 degrees and thunderstorms at 12:30 at night lit the sky during the 45 min drive to the guesthouse, a quick stop for some fuel (a perfect opportunity to buy some water and chips) and we were at the guesthouse, which appeared abandoned… because it was. No night watchman, no greeting party, no bed for now. My driver Charles was starting to look a bit concerned after 30 mins of honking and banging on the gate. He admitted later that he was considering taking me home with him. We finally woke up a guard at another guesthouse and convinced him to rent me a room. 20 mins later I was asleep (having left my water and chips in the car, and realizing my computer charger wasn’t going to work tonight).
As I awoke the next day I was greeted by the familiar friendliness of East Africans and the lush and green surroundings of the city. Kampala has a distinct feel that I have not seen before, much brighter, cleaner and green than other capitals in the area. The traffic is busy, but quiet, the boda boda’s are crazy, but very convenient (and frankly a lot of fun – sorry mom).
The first days at work have been engaging; they have me working on the organization’s strategic plan and grants already. The office is small with four of us working in a room about 20 x 20, but everyone is very nice and the friendly nature of the office makes it easy to work.
Spent my first weekend exploring the local incredibly hilly neighborhoods and catching up on some much-needed sleep, and now for the first full four-day week! I will report back next week whether or not he Easter Bunny made it this far south…
On paper the 4 flights and long layovers don’t seem to daunting….but boy of boy was that a gruelling trip! Here are some tips on surviving a 9 hour layover in the Munich airport, followed by funny tale about anaphylaxis in the Delhi airport.
Munich Layover Tips:
1) there are no water fountains, but you can refill a water bottle at the taps in the washroom — or as a German airport staff would say “You can use water from the toilet”
2) it’s fun using the virtual info stations . You rock-up to the info stations found around the terminals, use the touch screen to request face-to-face assistance and an attendant will appear virtually on the screen to help you. The life-size video projection of the agent is very star-trekky but they can help you find everything you need in this massive airport.
3) the $15 Euros for a shower in Terminal #1 is well worth the cash. The room is large enough to bring in your luggage, there are towels, and I am quickly realizing that that might have been my last hot shower for a while!
Now for my tale of anaphylaxis in the Delhi airport. It was the breakfast veggie pastry on my Lufthansa flight that was the culprit. One bite and I started having an allergic reaction. I popped 3 Benadryl and started downing buckets of waters, but little helped the hives, sweats, and stomach cramping. By the time we put our wheels on the ground I was in tears, making a scene trying to get out of my seat – and being yelled at by the staff to sit down. Fast forward 20mintues, and I am now being wheel-chaired through the Delhi airport by a crew of 5 Indian staff who don’t speak English. Now I’m at customs (was told a doctor is on the other side) – still in the wheel-chair along with a number of seniors in wheel-chairs. I am turned away from the border without a visa, and redirected to the transfers section of the airport. By this time I have calmed down, and I am coping with the allergic reaction. I am in a daze about the whirl-wind wheel-chair adventure through the airport, but I am able to ensure the staff that a little rest should get me through. 5hours later I’m on my final flight to Kathmandu.
Needless to say – I arrived in one-peice, with many lessons learned. Now for the real adventure 🙂