Saturday, January 21, 2012

Airport Adventures

Some rambling notes on my adventures through airports so far:

Ottawa:


  • 13:15. Arrive at the airport. Westjet can check my bags, but not me, all the way through to Lilongwe. I need to pick up my remaining boarding passes at the gate in Toronto. 




Toronto:
  • 15:00. Talk a boarding pass checker into letting me into a restricted area without the right boarding pass. Reach my gate and find it unmanned. I suppose I am over 3 hours early. 
  • 15:05. Scan the walls and pillars for a power outlet, find what seems like a quiet spot at the back with access to power, and then realize the empty area nearby is a play area for children ages 2-5. Escape with great haste. 
  • 15:15. Spot some sort of public health containment team stationed two gates over from mine. I count 4 cops, 9 paramedics/doctors/medical support staff, 3 stretchers, and 2 women in Public Health Agency of Canada vests. Contagion? I grab a seat with a view.
  • 15:25. Contaminated flight arrives, but no one's getting off. No one is getting on, either. Who is patient zero?  
  • 15:40. People are finally coming off the plane. Paramedics and cops are leaving. Stretchers are empty. How anticlimactic. 
  • 15:55. Find a power outlet and seat outside the play area's blast radius. 
  • 16:00. Plane from Amsterdam arrives at the gate. No Public Health officials milling around for this flight, just border control. 
  • 17:15. Finally get my remaining boarding passes.
  • 18:15. On-board and thrilled to discover there is no one in the seat next to mine. Makes the fact that there are 2 toddlers and a bored 6-year-old within a 3-seat radius more palatable.



Amsterdam:

  • 7:30 (1:30 EST). Finally off the plane. Call Brook. Experience the fun of 10-second delays on Skype. He tells me that he thinks there's a bathroom with a view of the tarmac in Schipol airport, so I go on a hunt.
  • 7:45 (1:45 EST). The bathroom in the poshest area of the airport has no view, and I have to go. Hunt aborted.
  • 8:00 (2:00 EST). There's a "Dutch Winters" art exhibit in the airport, courtesy of an Amsterdam museum. Cool. 
  • 8:30 (2:30 EST). Back at the gate for my next flight. Contemplating an hour's sleep. Decide to update the blog entry instead.
  • 9:20 (3:20 EST). Successfully avoid going through the full-body security scanner again. I contemplated doing it in the interest of expediency, but then noticed that they were manually searching everyone afterwards anyway. What's the point of the scan if the result for 9/10 people is "do a manual search"? I ended up passing security faster by opting out. 

What's next? I fly another 8 hours to Nairobi, spend 3 hours in that airport, and finally fly one hour to Lilongwe. I arrive around 11pm local time, and should get picked up by Daniel, my future IT co-worker at MUSCCO. I have accommodations booked at a hotel in town, apparently quite close to the MUSCCO offices. From there, I'll have to find myself a cheaper hotel/hostel and eventually an apartment. I've been putting off the apartment search since, a) it's hard to do from a different continent, and b) I had no idea where work was going to be. I probably should start on that now... 

I think this might be where I drop off the grid for a while. Even if there's free wi-fi in Nairobi airport, I suspect I'll be too tired to contemplate more writing by then. Stay tuned and hopefully in a few days I'll be posting my first impressions of Lilongwe!

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