Getting Here Plus Day 1

“Carry on our wayward group” was the theme as we boarded and exited multiple planes once they reached our destinations.

From the first flight the group got to know each other well. I know Vanessa and I we’re sky-mall impulse shopping from the moment we found our seats to pass the time. The 3 ft giraffe to hold our toilet paper is in the mail.

Roy and I had various in flight challenges to pass the time. Although we weren’t sitting next to each other we still passed notes like elementary students.

The class started on the right foot all showing up on time in great spirits. As we approached our gate to enter the London Heathrow airport, we were already anticipating leaving the airport and the few sights in London that we’d see. As we rushed to quickly check our bags we quickly realized that the staff at the Heathrow airport wasn’t helpful. We were sent from one end of the airport to the other multiple times trying to find Kenya airways to check our bags so we could leave the airport. After stopping one person from rerouting us further they actually informed us that we would have to wait 3 hours to check our bags. At that point the workout we had to go through to get a correct answer left a sour taste in the groups mouth.

With very limited time half the group volunteered to watch the bags of the half that went to London. It wasn’t fair for that party but we did appreciate them giving us the opportunity to go rather that restrict the group.

As the group departed to London we quickly found out that London driving was just a little different than that in the US. We went through some back roads that required some unique driving skills on our taxi driver’s part. He was driving full speed with distances between cars similar to having two cars parked in a small garage. I would have had missing mirrors before I left the airport.

As we got into London our first stop was Buckingham Palace. From there we power walked, calculating the exact time we needed to leave to make it back to check in our luggage. After Buckingham palace we went to the Parliament and Big Ben which we were informed by Melissa is one of the seven wonders of the world. We know now.

Absorbing as much of London as we could in the 45 minutes we allotted ourselves we hailed a Taxi to get back to terminal 4 of the Heathrow airport. We went sprinting back into the building where the rest of the group was going to the bathroom I was Tim Tiebowing that we got to our luggage in time befor e our flight.

After the flight from London landed in Nairobi we all were in for a new experience once we saw their restrooms. For the females they had a stairway for the toilet(which I was told) and the men had to take three steps up before they could stand in front the the urinal. Since the line for the urinal was too long I went to the stall. No porcelain thrown. Instead a missing tile in the floor where the men had to strategically squat and aim.

From there we went to Burundi where myself and two other classmates were overly excited to be off the plane that we thought it was our stop and got off. We quickly realized that it didn’t look right and after five minutes of sun we jumped back on the plane with no problems from the flight staff.

Touchdown in Kigali! We’re done flying, at least for a few days.  We got to the hotel, which is beautiful, and got freshened up. The showers and access to fresh clothes were well needed by all and very much appreciated.

After we got all cleaned up we took off for the Rwanda genocide memorial. “Sobering” was how one of my fellow classmates Robin put it and I couldn’t agree more. Seeing the mass graves of genocide victims left an uneasy feeling in your stomach. Not wanting my emotions to influence others I moved through the first part of the tour rather quickly. The first part of three was the history and the facts around the genocide. The second was individual stories and the third was the walk to see the mass graves.

The part about “day one” portion of the trip that I was supposed to cover that had the greatest impact on me would have to be part two of the Genocide memorial. To be more specific the Children’s Exhibit. At first glance I thought it was a learning tool for children to grasp the history of what happened but I was rudely awakened at what I was to find when I walked in. There were about five or six rooms dedicated to the kids stories that were lost do to the genocide. These children reminded me of my godchildren as they brought the story home by explaining certain aspects of what made this child an individual (Name, favorite toy, personality traits, favorite food and how old they were) and ending each story on how they died. The Bubbies never deserved what happened to them. “In war children have no political agenda” as Linda said, prompted me to ask many rhetorical questions. How could you do this to a child? No matter how much hate you had in your heart for a specific people, how could you bring yourself to doing such an awful thing?