Traveling to Eldoret more or less started on Saturday (02/24), with my parents and I driving up to northwest Indiana, or more affectionately known as “The Region”. I was staying with Meg for the evening before our flight out of Chicago the next day. Our families shared a lovely Italian dinner together before Mark & Sue (my parents) said their final goodbyes and surely cried throughout their 2.5-hour trek back home (kidding, they were probably celebrating my departure).
Sunday afternoon came quickly, and we were off towards O’Hare International Airport for leg 1 of 2, ORD --> AMS (the code word for Amsterdam). Megan’s mom snapped various glamour shots/photos as we made our way from the curb through the airport doors. FREEEEEDOM! (sorry mom & dad). Wow, it was finally starting to feel real.
After a quick blip getting our bags checked, security was a breeze and within 10 minutes we were at our gate, greeted by a few fellow early-bird friends. With time to kill, I decided to unwrap a card game called Organ Attack, which I’ve owned for nearly a year but hadn’t actually played since before I bought it. The one-liner summary of this game aimed towards medical nerds like ourselves: You each get a handful of “organs” to protect and try to kill off your friends’ organs through attack cards such as cancer, hypothyroidism, and acne. It’s a real doozy of a game and is sure to be a hit at the IU House with the rest of our medically-inclined friends.
The first plane ride (Chicago to Amsterdam) was fairly easy despite not getting even a minute of shut-eye. Maybe I shouldn’t have had coke and coffee every time the flight attendants came by… live and learn. The trip was 7 hours and 40 minutes on a ginormous Boeing 747 – the biggest plane I’ve ever set foot on, with 10 seats across and an exclusive upper-deck for those flying first class (see photo below for enormity).
A 5-hour layover stood between us and our next phenomenally-long international flight. After a few failed attempts at trying to get into some of the luxury sky lounges, we settled on a tolerable area that had outlets and food nearby. The plane that took us from Amsterdam to Nairobi held even more people than the first, apparently another 20 rows deeper. The flight was painless, albeit worse food than before, and we arrived in Nairobi completely oblivious to our upcoming annoyances.
We got off the plane and headed towards the immigration line, which took a blistering hour to get through. But after scanning our fingerprints and handing over some paperwork, we were good to go. As we approached our next task, customs, we were nervous after hearing stories from past students about having their luggage searched and being questioned by guards; however; to our delight, we literally walked right through “customs” without seeing a single person. Wow… if only it were that easy everywhere.
Another hour and a half went by before we were (finally) checked into our hotel and by this time it was close to 11:30pm local time. Our domestic flight to Eldoret, our final destination, was at 6:30am so we got an unfortunately short 3 hours of sleep before rising again. Fast forward past going back to the airport, being dropped off at the wrong terminal, taking a bus to the right terminal, and going through security with guards armed with machine guns, annnd we were finally on our tiny 10-row, 23-seater prop jet that took us to Eldoret. The whole flight was smooth except for landing and oh my god we were at our last stop. We jumped into a few SUVs that would take us to “IU House”, our home for the next 8 weeks, and began to take in the sights and sounds of Africa.
I’ll end my first post here, seeing how long it already is… Please feel free to comment below or text me (I can receive iMessages), and ask ANY questions you might have and I will happily answer them!