On the road again

For about two weeks I wasn’t sure whether I would travel or not on Monday September the 25th. The contract wasn’t signed until the 21st and my passport with the Mali and Niger visas didn’t arrive until the 23rd. Axel started to include me in his plans after the 25th, but then had to leave me out again, as the travel did start when planned; the ticket was purchased on Friday, the passport came on Saturday and I left on Monday.  It’s called JIT travel.

Before my trip we traveled to the far end of Long Island to enjoy a long weekend with good friends in beautiful North and South Fork, visiting wineries, swimming in the balmy waters of Long Island and eating great food. If Jose was still blowing on our way down, on our return on the ferry we enjoyed a 10+ day on the deck during the hour and a half crossing of Long Island Sound.

I was able to use Delta’s upgrade certificates for the crossing of the Atlantic which meant a good half night sleep before squeezing into coach for the remainder of the journey from France to Mali. I arrived early afternoon at the new airport (which already looked kind of old) but surely an improvement over the chaos at the old airport. Slowly all the old chaotic airports I remember from early in my career are disappearing. Senegal is about to open its brandnew airport in December.

The hotel I reserved turned out to be as far away from ICRC and where I would be working as possible. I was given a pricey studio with an ill equipped kitchenette, fancy barstools, large elephant furniture, an enormous flat TV screen. The windows were of the kind you find in bathrooms and cannot look through, which created a kind of prison feeling. The shower spouted in all directions and the breakfast wasn’t ready before I had to leave for the long trip across town. The only good thing it had going for it was a small gym and a lovely garden.

Discovering how long it took at rush hour to cut across town, while my employer had a hotel right next door, I moved and settled into a more standard hotel with a balcony overlooking a nice, unused except by me, pool, and windows that let the world in. All this also for half the price, and best of all, I can walk to ICRC as it is right next door.

To use the pool I had to buy a bathing suit as I had not packed mine. I usually don’t like to swim in front of a restaurant or with a terrace around – prude that I am – but here the pool is tucked away amidst foliage and birds and no one uses it, it is entirely mine.  I got a local taxi to help me find a bathing suit. Apparently the season had passed and only tiny bikinis were left. I told the sales lady that I was too old for a bikini, and too big for the one she showed me. I finally managed to construct a suit at a sport store, putting together an exercise top and bottom that would work fine. Ever since I have enjoyed my daily, very meditative swim.

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