2006-08-07

Shakin' In My Long Skirt n Sandals

Us in Niamey

Part 1 - Position Available Part 5 - But I's Dark and it's only 4.30pm!
Part 2 - The Year was 1999 Part 6 - Laying Out the Fleece
Part 3 - Red Dirt or Green Grass Part 7 - Oh, That's Why We're Here!
Part 4 - Preparations and Going the UK

Having spent 6 months in the UK we knew we had to be prepared for quite a climate change going into West Africa. It wasn't the only change of course but one of the many dramatic ones. Neither of us had ever flowin into a 'third world' country (this term has changed so many times, not sure what the current politically correct term is) before. We had been warned by various people that several things may happen when we got off the plane in Niamey, Niger. We were told we may be patted down, our luggage may be rustled through, our luggage may not arrive, our luggage may not arrive in one piece, our luggage may be confiscated. We were warned not to let baggage handlers grab our things as we excited the airport.

All these things, along with the fact that it would be hot, dusty and in the middle of nowhere meant that by the time we flew into Niamey I was literally trembling. I'm not sure how many people this happens to but it happened to me. As we got off the plane the lovely 32C (89F) air hit us and we felt like we were in Australia again. We then lined up to have our passports and yellow fever books checked by the military men sitting behind the counter. As I turned around to look down the long line I realised that there were an awful lot of westerners in the queue. I later found out that there were around 20 other SIM and other missionaries and kids on board that flight. What was I worried about!

We were shuffled into a little booth each to be patted down next. This was one of my big fears. A very large African woman stood there in airport uniform and took the book I was holding (Modern Art) and ruffled through the pages. She then said to me 'SIM?', I said 'yes' and she said 'go'. Phew. Next fear put to rest. Michael had a similar experience as he was wearing a SIM t-shirt.

We collected our luggage. Nothing was damaged, not even the guitar which we had stupidly put on the flight in a soft case. Our luggage wasn't rifled through and we were quickly ushered out the exit gates. We were greeted by a few different people, there were so many SIMmers to pick up that day!

So, we made it, me wearing a long skirt as is the custom in Niger (as is NOT my custom at all) and yes, with baggage handlers carrying our luggage!

Looking back, anyone who travels into this type of airport regularly would think I was silly being so afraid but I had spent almost a year and a half previously building up an image in my mind as to what our arrival in Niamey would involve. Some of my fears were real but in the end, I should have trusted the Lord a lot more than I did. We live and learn.

4 Comments:

Blogger WITWATW said...

You are so right. Third world airports ARE the scariest. (I recon first world airports are pretty scarey too though...full of stressed, caffine hyped people) My hubby is a pilot with MAF and we have travelled all over Africa...but his bit of advise is always...look confident, hold your head up and appear to know where your going and what your doing. And in taking his advise, I have walked confidently into the wrong room...turned around and walked confidently back out.....a bit like a sad wanna-be run-way model. They must think i am a complete nutter.
I hope your time in Africa is incredible. It will stay in your heart forever. I miss it.

6:45 am  
Blogger saheldormparents said...

Amanda, sorry you had such a scary anticipation! Glad to know that none of the horror stories came true! We only visited Niamey once in February '05 for ten days with our ten month old daughter. I must say it was better than the Abidjan airport, much to my surprise. I spent many years in Cote d'Ivoire so I expected it to be the same, and it wasn't! Witwatw is right to look confident even if you don't feel it, that holds true in 1st world airports too!

8:24 pm  
Blogger Amanda said...

Thankyou for your comments. Witwatw, we aren't going to Africa, this is my account of our time in Niger in 2000-2001. We miss it too!

Sahel - thanks for your comments, I'll keep the confidence thing in mind for next time!

3:34 pm  
Blogger WITWATW said...

Hi Amanda,
thanks for your comment on our blog. I am a bit of a virgin blogger, and a missionary on furlough...all of which leads to unnatural and amazingly addictive number of hours on the Internet - and found you after goggling PNG missionaries, read your brothers (not sure if its your brother or your sisters) blog, then found a link to you guys... I am really enjoying reading your blog and plan to pop in on a regular basis. Furlough is a bit of a lonely time for me, so its really fun to find some blogging buddies.
Hope your having a great day!
Cheers and God bless. xx

4:31 pm  

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