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Jay | Susan | Alex | Beth | Samantha
December 6, 2008 4:52 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

I run a quasi-scheduled flight from Gatab to Nairobi and back.  Nominally I go down on the first and third Thursday of every month and come back the following day, to Nairobi  in the morning and back the following afternoon so that people have time to get things done around Nairobi.  It’s quasi-scheduled because we shift the flight around a day or two to accomodate requests from missionaries.

Two weeks ago the scheduled flight was empty…until the day before the flight.  I took off from Nairobi at 1725 kg (max for the airplane is 1729, 3800 lbs).  There were four people, plus 38 kg of medicines for Gatab, plus the other people’s cargo.  I just returned yesterday afternoon from the scheduled flight.  We were supposed to have 5 people on board, two moms and their infants, plus a lady from Gatab returning from being seen at Kijabe hospital.  I ended up with the one lady and her baby.  The other mom and baby went back to their station by other means.

I had told the family of the lady going from Kijabe that she needed to be at Wilson airport by noon.  Scheduled meeting time was 2pm, but knowing up-country african’s lack of sense of time, I said noon.   At 1:30pm I get a call from teh family saying she’s having trouble checking out of Kijabe, can you wait a bit?  I can wait a -little- I said…about 30 minutes.    We go back and forth and back and forth for a while.  Finally at 2:30 I say, “I am not able to stop the sun.”  Meaning I’ll run out of daylight.  “But she’s on her way!”  So I ask, “When did she leave Kijabe?”  I have to ask about 4 times before they say “2:25.”  “Sorry, can’t wait the two or more hours it will take you to get here.  We’ll have to make other arrangements.”

We are able to put her on an airplane coming to Kurungu next Friday and she’ll be able to get a ride from Kurungu with the Gatab soccer team.  So a bit of a delay but I think this will be no cost to the family.  It was very frustrating dealing with “please (whine) hold the airplane!”  though.  No…if I hold the airplane I stay the night and the other passenger is delayed and so on.

I was also asked to stop in Olturot on the way to Gatab and pick some people.  I pass them by and land 5 minutes before my daylight reserve (we have to be on the ground 15 minutes prior to sunset, and I landed 20 minutes before, so getting a bit close).

Today I went to Olturot.  A good thing I went empty!  They FILLED the airplane with people and stuff.  I had a bunch of groceries in the airplane for us yesterday, which would have meant alot of what they wanted to bring up would have had to have been left.

2 Responses to “The Scheduled Flight”

  1. Theodora Says:

    (giggle) I remember one of my first experiences with “African time.” I was attending a meeting of agricultural extension agents that was supposed to start at 9 am and began at like 1 pm. Everyone seemed perfectly happy to sit around and talk about nothing for four hours. To be fair, a lot of people had a hard time getting to the meeting due to the bad roads and iffy transportation on those roads. But it was pretty crazy-making for me, since all I could do was sit there and talk about…less than nothing, since I didn’t speak Swahili.

  2. Jay Says:

    It’s common here for that to be the case…late for a whole variety of reasons and no one seems to mind. Like you saw they just sit around and chat. We’re getting to the point we can hold a sort of a conversation in Kiswahili, but it’s slow going with lots of mistakes.

    And I still can’t stop the sun. Oh well. We’re making arrangements for the lady to get back to Gatab on another flight this Friday. I think it might even be free.

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