Saturday, Sept. 11.
AMSTERDAM — The airport has art books for travelers’ perusal, a piano, a well-designed, clean ladies room and no one has yelled at me. Dorothy, we’re not in Newark any more. They do not require travelers to remove shoes at check-in! Given that it is Sept. 11, and I am a New Yorker, and want nothing more than to switch the safety of the world back nine years and one day, I get it. Still this is much easier.
KENYA — Ran into a little trouble getting into country.
Had filled out visa forms on airplane and stood on a long queue, gave customs agent the forms, and my passport and he asked for the $25 fee, which I gave him. I was missing one form, and he sent me to a table, but told me he would work on the forms and to leave money and passport. It didn’t feel right, but I told myself I am a visitor in a country where there were a lot of people in uniforms with not much to do, and for once I was obedient.
When I returned, he asked for the money — again. I told him I had paid him, and had the $25 to pay him again, but come on. He said I had not. I could easily have paid him again, but having already stated that I had paid him, I stuck to that. He kept staring into my eyes saying, “I can tell if you are lying and I will know if it is you and I am short tonight.” I told him he already had my money and he affixed something to my passport. After those few uncomfortable minutes passed, I waited a long time for my luggage, then it turns out I did not have the right paperwork to get out of airport, but the man waved me through.
It is an unusual airport that makes Newark look organized and cheery. The person supposed to meet me wasn’t around, and I waited about 90 minutes. I made many acquaintances and several men offered me rides. That seemed like a decidedly awful idea.
My calls and emails are not going through, except, oddly and wonderfully, I was able to call one publicist, a gem, who contracts with National Geographic Channel and they are behind this whole trip to Africa. The station will air a special in November about the great migration. A driver finally found me. He told me he had been there with a sign with my name. No. But I have learned a lesson, and I just smile. It’s not a bad lesson to adopt.
Drive to the hotel was interesting, right-side driving, and the traffic laws are not immediately apparent. We passed a soccer stadium and the billboards were for vodka. Drinking age is 18, thank you is asante.