“Check-in THREE hours before departure” it said. In bold letters, printed in red… who am I to question such an order that goes against all reasoning and experience? Naturally when we arrived at Nuremberg Airport (after just one hour of sleep) at 3 a.m. everything was still closed. Eventually I checked in around 5 a.m., my mum’s patience worn thin like a favorite blanket, my dad’s soles worn thin from roaming the quiet halls of this small airport. After a quick and emotional good-bye I went through, had a quick breakfast and braved the cold German morning. Before take-off the plane had to be treated to a defrosting shower, the handrail was decorated with beautiful ice crystals. The temperatures on the plane were freezing and I think everybody was glad when we descended to Paris through thick white fog after 1:40 flight time.
Changing planes at Charles de Gaulle is always an adventure (#ihatecdg 🙂 ) but everything went well…
… until boarding of the connecting flight was suspended after the priority passengers had already boarded. At first I was afraid they might drink all the champagne and I would end up without any bubbly nourishment but eventually it just got annoying. When we were finally allowed to board, I made my way to the back of the plane. Just when I got to my seat and started stowing away my luggage, I was approached by a handsome French policeman in full gear who explained to me that there was an “intervention de la police” in the last row and that there was no reason to worry. When I looked back I saw grim looking plainclothes police huddled around a seat in the middle from which strange noises could be heard. Somebody mentioned the word “prison” and once again I was annoyed by my lack of French. It seemed like there was a person who was about to be deported. Very obviously against his will. They must have restrained him somehow at this point and for sure he was gagged because you could hear he was struggling and trying to shout. Just about five rows behind me that was very unsettling, let me tell you…
Despite the fact that this person had obviously done something to set all of this in motion, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. Is it human nature that we feel pity for people who are suffering in front of us? And suffering he was. I didn’t witness his crimes. Maybe he stole something. Maybe he even killed somebody – who knows! – , but I didn’t witness it and I still don’t know anything about it. Come to think of it, I haven’t even seen him. Just heard his muffled screams, saw the three plainclothes police people holding him down. During the flight the regular noise of the plane covered his struggle and when I saw the police again in Bamako at the window for special Visa he wasn’t with them. They looked exhausted. I don’t think they enjoyed this trip.
Let me ask you something: Do you enjoy retrieving your baggage at the carousel after a flight? I usually try to see it as social studies, do you get what I mean? The carousel in Bamako was even more interesting than normal baggage claims. I had been expecting it, so I wasn’t really shocked and I tried not to be annoyed with all the people offering help free of charge and then asking for money anyway. Just to see what would happen I went along with one guy – it wasn’t as if I could have stopped him from lifting my suitcases onto the security check belt without a physical fight anyway!
Now a lady asked me if I had any food in my suitcases. I told her no and explained in my bad French that those bottles were cosmetics. She replied something with a highly bored expression and waved her hand. At first I thought she told me to leave but what she was actually saying was that if I gave her cash she would let me go. Let’s just say I was ten dollars lighter already before even having stepped outside the airport. Luckily now sweet Abdoulaye showed up presenting a perfectly printed sign with my name on it and took care of me. And I was really happy to have him by my side when leaving the airport. Wouldn’t have enjoyed having to run the gauntlet by myself!
What followed now and my thoughts on flying across the Sahara for hours on end will follow in another post – suffice to say I’m in my hotel room, I’m fed, I have Wifi and exhausted – ergo, to be continued!