Wednesday 11th June
I have been asked whether it is difficult to adjust to being back in the UK. In reality it isn't, but what is difficult is to connect the two very different worlds. On this occasion the differences are accentuated by having Jennipher here with me. She is totally amazed by what she sees, but enjoying the experience enormously.
Last Wednesday I went to Mazabuka to extend my visitor's permit. It took less than 10 mins to go through the process find the stamp etc and issue the permit, 1 ½ hrs to travel there and back and 3 hours waiting for buses!!
Thursday was my day for saying goodbye, but I found myself sorting out a few bits of business and constantly running an appointment or two behind schedule. It reached abour 20 hrs and I decided that I had to call it a day and recognised that my visit to Monze was finished. I finally called at the priest's house before joining Diven for a final meal at Tooters.
I didn't sleep well on Thursday night, but managed to over sleep eventually. It was therefore before my breakfast when Obert's parents arrived unexpectedly to wish me a good journey. In the midst of a later than expected breakfast, Julie arrived and I had the chance to talk about the imminent arrival of the first of the volunteers and hoped she was ready to accept them at the house.
Obert arrived a few minutes late – for which I was grateful. He had agreed to take me to Pemba, where we would pick up Jennipher. Soloman was at the roadside waiting to direct us. I was welcomed with hugs from Obadia, Maggie and Jennipher (the younger). Jennipher joined us in the car and we headed to Pemba Basic to say goodbye to Selina. On seeing the police check point however, Obert was persuaded by the owner of the car to head straight for Monze. I was sad that we let Selina down, but I heard later that she understood the problem.
Jennipher's holiday had begun! We arrived at Monze just in front of a Shalom bus (quite literally). They had a couple of spare places – it seemed that the Lord was with us for we were on our way without delay. At the Inter-City bus station a taxi driver was waiting – he agreed a fair price, drove well and had a good car with ample space for the luggage. When he dropped us at Longacres Lodge, I engaged him to take us to the airport the next day.
I spent a considerable time during the afternoon trying to check in online. This proved futile and eventually I gave up. I don't think that Jennipher was impressed! We returned to the hotel and rested for a while. I rang Judy who I was aware was in Lusaka preparing for some exams. I have come to know Judy over many years from Monze Mission Hospital where she worked as the secretary to the Hospital Executive Officer/Medical Superintendent. She was transferred to the Copperbelt a couple of years back, so I was pleased when she met us at the hotel. Jennipher appeared with a nephew who works in Lusaka and he joined us for supper. Judy had to rush off, but it was good to see her - even if it was brief.
On Saturday there was no great hurry. The taxi was arranged for 9 hrs, so we could enjoy a leisurely breakfast and even sit and enjoy the early morning sun. I warned Jennipher that she might not see it again for a while!
Our taxi arrived on time and we were at the airport in very good time. One of the many error messages i received when trying to check in online suggested that I contact customer services at Ethiopean Airlines to complete checking in, so I took the opportunity to go to their office at the airport. The guy confirmed that on the first plane my attempt to gain a window seat had succeeded and that we were in adjacent seats – though not by a window – on the final flight. Unfortunately he couldn't change this. However, a final attempt to sort out our seating arrangements to my satisfaction succeeded at the check-in desk. I wanted Jennipher to be able to see as much as possible from the plane, hence the energy expended trying to get to the window.
We watched the planes from the departure lounge before getting onboard. A delay at Harare meant that it was dark by the time we passed Kilimanjaro, but there were some good views. It seemed that the equipment that lifted the luggage to the plane was faulty – hence the delay. Most appeared to have been had been loaded, so eventually we carried on with our journey.
At Addis Abbaba further confusion reigned!! I told Jennipher she should find the next plane! However, it seemed that there was a delay of an hour or so. I tried to contact Dilys, first by phone, then by e-mail and, since neither was operating, by a message to a friend on Facebook chat! When I returned to Jennipher she said that there had been a call for Heathrow passenfgers to go to gate 4. Since we were still 3 hours from the revised departure time this seemed strange! I looked on the departure information screen and was alarmed to find that apparently the next plane left at 8 hrs (it was about 23 hrs) and there was no mention of any flight to Heathrow. I decided to ask someone with the right uniform on, and was informed that the Heathrow plane was leaving from gate 6 which was in a separate area. We were both sceptical but after receiving confirmation we passed security and made for the gate. An hour later about 50 people were at gate 6 where an Ethiopean Airways plane sat. (Since almost all the planes were Ethiopean Airways it wasn't very significant – except that since it could hold about 350 passengers there was a marked disparity with the number waiting to board.!!) It was sometime later that thepassengers at gate 4 eventually joined us!!
I had told Dilys not to rush as we would be at least an hour late. In the event when we boarded the plane it was announced that, despite leaving an hour late, we were expected to arrive on time!
We had no food on the plane to Harare but had lunch at 15 – 16 hrs on the next leg of our trip. We were now served supper at 3 hrs (Ethiopean time). By 4 hrs (UK time) – 3 hrs after supper! It was light. We enjoyed watching out of the window as we flew along the Greek coast picking up the many small Greek islands. We were then gifted with the sight of the alps in bright sunshine – Jennipher's first view of snow! As we approached the coast it was cloudy but this cleared as we neared England. Finally we were treated to a close-up view of London before coming into land. It was a wonderful flight for Jennipher. She appreciated all the new sights and was in awe of the world which was appearing before her. All the efforts to precure the window seat were amply rewarded.
I decided to do all I could to stay with Jennnipher through the entrance process and was able to be with her at the immigration desk. Being able to explain that we were together on the flight and that she would be staying with me me and my wife made the process relatively straightforward – I suspect on her own Jennipher might have had a more difficult time.
Jennipher found a trolley while I tried to spot our bags. Two cases arrived on the carousel but when all was loaded my final bag was missing. I eventually found it at the side of the carousel with the lock broken! (I only noticed this when I arrived home!) I don't think anything was taken – probably because it contained nothing of interest, but it was curious that it appeared to have been taken from the carousel. I can't imagine anyone removing it of the carousel, then trying to open it in full view of the other passengers!
Dilys wasn't around so We had a couple of coffees and waited.
The song “I'll raise you up” started playing at the café and I wasn't surprised to see see Dilys appear at that point – it is one of her favourite songs!
Dilys drove us home, while Jennipher looked in wonder at the world in which she had suddenly arrived.
On Monday I went to mass and arranged that Dilys met me for a coffee afterwards. I was a little disappointed that some friends weren't at the service. However, I greeted a few that were around. Dilys and Jennipher should have been at the parish office but hadn't arrived so I headed to see if I could get some mealie meal! Before I left the church grounds I bumped into Maria and after a brief chat Dilys and Jennipher arrived. I introduced Maria to Jennipher. We entered the office and before leaving Mary arrived and agreed to join us for coffee. Both Maria and Mary have been very much interested and involved with my Zambian trips and I had hoped that I would see them on Monday. It appeared that I would meet neither since they weren't at mass, yet both were brought to meet us anyway.
I showed Jennipher around town and we entered some of the shops. I organised a mobile for her before rwe returned to relax in front of the TV.
Yesterday after dropping Paul in Cirencester for 8 am, Dilys, Jennipher and myself made our way to Ogmore on Sea - just beyond Cardiff - using the scenic route through one of the Welsh valleys. Jennipher loved the views – especially the mountains and we were blessed by good weather. Until that is we arrived at the coast – the first sight of the sea was still a special moment for Jennipher, though we didn't linger. We met Deana who lives nearby and who visited Monze in 2012 as a Hands Around the World volunteer – where she first met Jennipher. Deana has subsequently set up her own small charity and is leaving to return to Zambia this Friday. I was able to pass on some items from Zambia for her and others items for her to take to Zambia with her.
We had a very walk around Ogmore castle before having a very pleasant lunch at a café overlooking the sea.
Of course, though the weather had changed for the worse, I was not going to allow Jennipher to return without getting really close to the sea. The rain eased and we headed for the beach. Only I was brave (or foolish) enough to have a paddle, but we all enjoyed walking on the shore at the edge of the sea. Deana showed us to a walled garden and Jennipher continued to say Wow!
We took the quick route back on the motorway over the Severn Brige to complete a very memorable day.
It is such a joy to have Jennipher here with us. She is enjoying all the new experiences – the food as well as the sights, sounds and smells!
Today was a quieter day but we visited Cheyenne's school where her class put on an interesting and entertaining assembly for the school and Jennipher met Amy again. Amy visted Zambia in 2011 and spent some time with Jennipher – we visited Livingstone together.
I will try to maintain my blog while Jennipher is with us in the UK.