In the dreary rain of a wet summer day in Southern Ontario, the experiences of the next few months in Zambia began. Perhaps Mother Nature knew the tone of the day well enough to set the stage – leaving behind the usual pulse and comfort of life in Canada for new horizons. After some warm hugs and goodbyes from loved ones I was through my security check and boarding the first of a two leg journey to Lusaka, Zambia. I was sad to be leaving them behind as I ventured on but knew they would be with me in spirit all along the way.
This was my first flight across the Atlantic, and I certainly hadn’t ever had so many time zones fall off the back end of a plane. The night before was a fantastic time reuniting with the returning Junior Fellows from Ghana who, not four months prior, I had spent an exciting week with orienting ourselves for the challenges and excitement that lay ahead. The less poetic realization was that I would land in Amsterdam to the bright morning sun before the hour I had returned home from that escapade the day before. So with something short of a couple hours asleep, I marched off leg one of my flight on the lovely KLM onto Netherlands soil.
With five hours to wear away until my next flight, I found myself second breakfast (the first was served at 4:45am local time), grabbed some hydration and headed off to find a chair for some shut eye.
The phrase of the day?
“You are delaying the flight. Please attend to gate D43 immediately or we will proceed to offload your baggage.”
With some eighty gates in my terminal alone, I soon came to realize that there were few flights lacking a straggler or two. The phrase, said with a mix of pleasantry and sternness, made me smile nearly every time with the Dutch intonation.
So after having slept a little first in a chair, which then evolved to the floor of the terminal (the chairs weren’t quite ideal for a nap) it was time to board leg number 2 – direct to Lusaka. The flight was longer than the first and it certainly true that the African continent is enormous. Between breaks in the clouds I was able to catch sights of Italy, Sicily and the Sahara. Then as the evening approached, some storm clouds moved in, erupting into a silent cacophony of lightning. Our plane made it through unscathed and landed in the modest Zambian airport under the cover of night.
Passing through immigration was pleasant and after collecting my baggage, I met up with my work partner, Luyando, and her father. The twisting roads home left me entirely disoriented – feeling I could be anywhere in Zambia now without a clue. Being detached from maps and a GPS that modern convention at home affords, it was almost nice to feel lost. Just existing in the moment in this small space of the country. But surely upon the rise of the sun I will be off to discover more, meet new and welcoming Zambian people, and find the first directions to take my work here!