Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Really Big Team

The June 2014 trip has turned out to be the largest of our team trips by far: 17 total by the time we got to the Achungo Children's Center in very rural Rodi-Kopany, Kenya.
(In the above picture:  far back left to right: Rachel and Cindy Marty, Doug Tillion, Jordan Troester.  Front left to right:  Halle and Kathryn Gelman, Kathy and Monte Fisher, Paige Barham, Cheryl Schaff, Joey Ludolph, Jessica Troester, Sarah Parker (with Kim Tillion above her), Annemarie Vance, Jonathan Schaff.  Hiding behind someone?: David Noh)

On June 18th, 11 of us started out together from SFO.  Joey was to meet us at JFK and Annemarie had her own itinerary and would meet us in Nairobi.  But when we 11 arrived at the airport terminal at 5 a.m. for our 7 a.m. flight we learned that the flight had been delay...for 12 hours!!!  (How do you delay a flight 12 hours?  Were they still trying to buy the plane?)  We despaired of ever making Nairobi the next evening and what would that mean for the trip schedule?..for poor Joey and Annemarie?

After about 2 hours of scrambling, the ticket agents split us up, moved us to another airline, and completely re-routed our itinerary.  It was going to get us to Nairobi only about an hour later than the original schedule!  ...IF we could make all the connections!

I was with 4 others on the latest flight out.  We got to Newark and actually had 15 minutes before our next flight started boarding.  That turned out to be a luxury compared with Heathrow.  We got there about an hour and a half before our flight out.  We walked the long jetway and then the walk to the down escalator.  That took us to the bus for terminal 5, but it didn't arrive for almost 10 minutes and then took 15 minutes to reach terminal 5.  Up the long escalator, down the long walk, past the line (in the express lane because we were already running late), through passport control, up the escalator to security, through that line and then I got caught!  They had to go through my entire bag because my dried fruit showed up as an ominous orange blob.  I sent the others ahead as I waited, watching the time approach when our gate would close.  I got a lot of exercise with my backpack and rolling carry-on as I carried them running down the corridors to the escalator, down it to the tram which was, of course, a long wait to arrive (ok, 5 or 8 minutes), then running up the long escalator to the gate.  It was already 10 minutes past the time for it to close but as I topped the escalator, Cindy called to me.  She was standing at the gate, almost physically making sure it stayed open until I arrived.  Whew!  Unbelievably we were going to make it to Nairobi!!   After that the rest of the trip seemed easy!  I was amazed in Nairobi when only 1 of our 22 bags didn't make it (we got it delivered later).