Landed – Kigali City

I arrived in Kigali after an uneventful but long trip; unless the storms in Holland and western Europe count as eventful. All the planes out of Schiphol had to use the same runway which made for an extra hour sitting in the plane, waiting.

On the Amsterdam to Kigali leg there were less sneezers and coughers than on the previous leg, which was a little extreme. Still, there were a few in my neighborhood, so on went the mask. Again, I was the only one. No one else seems to be worried – am I becoming too American, worrying about germs? My two most recent bouts with pneumonia and upper respiratory illness during the entire length of my stay in Burkina and later in Madagascar have made me a little paranoid.

I might as well have arrived in a new country, even the capital  is no longer simply Kigali, but Kigali City. So far I have not recognized anything except the hotel Mille Collines that our driver pointed out to me. I did recognize a former colleague on the plane. She now works for another organization in DC as their capacity building expert. Her new job allows her to fly business class – such luck! They must not have much competition if they can afford the steep B-class fares for their staff.

I had settled in my hotel room feeling as if I just had stepped off a long boat ride, with the hotel room swaying as if there was an earthquake (there wasn’t – just my brain playing tricks one me).

I called room service for a plastic bag with ice for my sore shoulder. But how to do that in a country that has banned plastic bags (the sturdy yellow Schiphol bags are perfect for icing). Before embarking we were told that we should leave all plastic bags on the plane.  The nice room service girl came up with a bucket of ice, a mesh bag (not plastic) and a hairnet (also not plastic and full of holes) to put the ice in. I don’t think she understood the purpose and looked very concerned when I told her I was injured and needed to get the inflammation down. She offered to call a doctor.  As soon as she left the room I took one of the many small plastic bags that the TSA requires for liquids and was able to ice myself without getting soaked. I think such bags are legal.

Tomorrow I will meet the new team, which consists mostly of old-timers. One of the newcomers authored several books and studies on leadership in East Asia which I devoured for a writing assignment some years ago. What a surprise to meet him here in faraway Africa, and now a colleague of mine.

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