I’m rocking in a rocking chair while sipping on a Berry Fulfilling smoothie while people watching at the Charlotte Airport. I’m on my way back to Cameroon after spending 2.5 weeks in the Northwest with friends and family for Christmas. The trip went well overall with only a few road-bumps that happened to fall on the trying to get here and trying to get home ends.
To arrive home for the holidays I traveled 51 hours. This may sound like a lot until I tell you how long it will take me to get back. The trip went something like this:
1) Saturday – 2.5 hour drove to Ngaoundere (my regional capital city where one takes the train to Yaounde)
2) Saturday afternoon – received news that the train hadn’t been running for a few days due to derailment and the only option to get to Yaoundé (the city one flies out of) is to take a bus
3) Sunday at 6AM – arrived at bus station. 7:30 AM the bus departed and drove past my village that I left the day before. We arrive at a city named Bertoua at 8 PM and stayed the night because it was too late to continue traveling. This bus ride was so dusty I looked like an Umpa Lumpa from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory afterwards! (P.S. I had a spaghetti omelet sandwich for dinner)
4) Arrived at bus station in Bertoua at 7:30 AM. Bus left around 9 AM for Yaoundé and arrived in Yaoundé at 2:30 PM on Monday.
During the bus ride I found out I had forgotten a few crucial steps to leaving the country for vacation: 1) To request for one’s entry/exit visas to be renewed and 2) To actually get signed approval for the vacation. (Ooops!). My flight was set to leave Tuesday night and it wasn’t until Tuesday afternoon that I found out I was actually going to be getting on a plane (thanks to some stellar PC Staff who helped me out last minute).
The first flight went smooth. The second had a delayed arrival due heavy winds but I nonetheless made it. Somehow.
I was expecting a painless return yet here I am in a rocking chair at the Charlotte Airport when I was supposed to be traveling through Philadelphia. My first flight out of Seattle was cancelled yesterday due to a malfunctioning part on the airplane. We were on the runway ready to take-off when the pilot turned us around.
The method of re-booking was predominately phone-based which isn’t too easy for the one traveler that no longer has an American cell phone (and where did all the payphones go??). Anyway, some nice lady gave me her phone to use and after 45 minutes of trying to sort out my three tricky flights, I heard a page for what I thought was “Kathleen Meehan” over the income. I was so excited – thinking they must have re-booked me and were calling me to a gate on the other side of the airport so I could board the awaiting plane. I quickly ended the call, handed the nice lady back her phone, grabbed my bags and started running. I got to the gate and told them my name and the lady smiled. She reached down and held up a passport with a picture of a 50 year old-ish woman. “Lose something?” she asked. “That’s not me.” I replied. “Oh. Sorry, I said Kathleen DEEGAN,” she responded.
I was so overwhelmed; I had no idea what to do. I walked slowly back to the gate and stood as the last person in line to get their tickets re-booked. It took the airline representative and I another hour just to figure out how to get me back to Cameroon before the end of the month. But we eventually found a way and here I am, rocking away in Charlotte.
My trip home has made me reflect quite a lot on how my last 15 months in Africa has changed me. If there is anything that Peace Corps has taught me, it is patience. Yes, I am anxious to see my friends back in Cameroon and wish I were there instead of taking red-eyes and sitting in airport rockers. However, I am content in the moment as well. And, more than anything, I am grateful. I believe both that everything happens for a reason and that everything will work out in the end. I would take an extra 27 hours of rocking in airports and people watching than taking-off in a malfunctioning plane any day. Plus, you got a blog post out of me because I have that much time on my hands .
Hope ya’ll have a great start to the New Year!