Friday, October 22, 2010

First Night in Nairobi

Sahara Desert

I'm in Nairobi!

Our flights (Al W. & I) were excellent. First, Detroit to Amsterdam. Amsterdam has a nice, efficient airport. But not as nice as Detroit Metro (which is the nicest I've ever been in).

Then, onto the big KLM 747 for the flight to Nairobi. My seat was 56H. The ticket person scanned my ticket and printed out another ticket that read: Seat 2K. Sounds better than 56H! I enter the plane, they direct me to my left, I am in first class! I have a guess how this happened. Probably one of our Redeemer Delta/KLM people upgraded me. It's either that, or God, or luck. Probably, it's "that" and God.

About first class...
  • Big chairs with your own armrests. This is important since on the Detroit to Amsterdam flight a man sat next to me and his arms were as big as chairs, My arm, thus, didn't exactly "rest" on that flight.
  • Heavy-duty luxury plastic silverware comes with your meal. The knife, fork, and spoon were so nice I thought of taking them home and using them for our good dinnerware.
  • Leg room. If you were Yao Ming you'd have enough room.
  • The chairs recline to full prone position. And, they are wide. These chairs are nicer than most people's beds.
  • The chairs have back massagers in them.
  • The food is different, and better, then economy class. This made me feel, for a moment, guilty.
  • But before dinner came we first-classers each got a sizable bowl of assorted nuts. But note this: not one peanut was in that bowl. Need I say more? (Since "assorted nuts" usually means "peanuts," with an occasional walnut chip.)
  • Three times hot wash clothes were brought to us. Why? Because we deserve that kind of treatment, that's why! Yet I wondered..., if they only knew I didn't pay for first class, would I have gotten a wash cloth? 
  • First-classers have their own, isolated bathrooms. Economy-waifs cannot use them. Which means they are always available, since numerically first-classers are "the few."
  • Then, right out of nowhere, I am served a cup of ice cream.
  • In first class you are treated like you are sombody even though you are not.
On the two flights I read Ngugi wa Thiongo's Decolonizing the Mind. Whoa, what a brilliant book, and sad in some places as we read of atrocities and dehumanizing acts done by the imperialistic colonizers of the African continent. Thiongo is a tremendous writer who some thought would receive this year's Nobel Prize for Literature.

I read, on my Kindle, more of The Dark Night of the Soul and was quite impressed with St John of the Cross's insights into shallow, sensual Christianity. Read more of Wayne Proudfoot's excellent Religious Experience. And, a little bit of Thomas Merton, which always goes a very long way.

Al & I both were blown away as we flew across the Swiss Alps and had an amazing, long look at snow-capped peaks and deep, green valleys. These Alps flow into northern Italy, which looked, from the air, spectacular. Down the east coastline of Italy, over Sicily, across the Mediterranean, into northern Africa, then over Libya and Sudan, where we were both in awe at the very big Sahara Desert. How big? 3.6 million square miles. It covers most of northern Africa. The Sahara Desert is almost as big as Europe, and America. We had incredible sun-drenched views of it from 30,000 feet. Ask Al what he thought of this.

We got picked up at the Nairobi Airport by our host, Pastor Cliff Msioki. Cliff drove us into the city where we're staying at the PanAfric hotel. Cliff is such a gracious host. I am honored to be with him and his church this weekend.

Al and I just ate a late dinner. I ordered something I'd never heard of - it was vegetarian and spicy and delicious. Al saw, on the menu, something called "cappucino mushroom soup." Al tried to wrap his mind around that but was having problems doing it. I think he's going to try some tomorrow.