Our eyes meet. We burst out laughing and squeeze hands. We are celebrating forty years of marriage and my sixtieth birthday by taking a month-long trip to Africa.
After a relaxed, happily uneventful seven-hour flight whizzing over the Atlantic Ocean, the British Isles, and France, we begin the new day. A brilliant prescient sunrise shines directly on us through the plane window. Although it's the middle of the night in Princeton, we adjust instantaneously to dawn over Germany. With eagerness and excitement, we anticipate a short layover in the Frankfurt airport before beginning the final leg of the trip to exotic Nairobi, Kenya, Africa.
Our first of many culture shocks takes us by surprise while we are still in Germany. Everyone in the airport waiting area is black, except us! Fred sure does look pale! I am terribly aware of my apparently anemic appeariance. Second culture shock: Cigarette smoke is everywhere. Smoke, smoke, smoke. Everyone is puffing! We quickly learn that white is a strange skin color and only Americans worry about smoke.
Twenty or so attractive teens are sprawled over the chairs, floor and air space in the waiting room. I suspect they're around 14 year old, young, active, happy and noisy. The girls' hair is artfully braided in complex corn rows. They boys' hair is neatly cropped. Exuberantly, the young people begin to sing. The sound is syncopated, rhythmic, fun. For all I know they may be singing "Yankee Go Home", but they are doing it with a smile.
Now it's off to Africa for an overnight stay in Nairobi.
Our brains and bodies are throbbing with the strange sights, sounds and smells of Nairobi. We had a long, exhausting day flying from Germany to Kenya, followed by a car ride through the bustle of downtown Nairobi and the dirt of the slummy outskirts where our hotel is located. We doze off and on in defiance of the all-night band playing in the restaurant below us. At about 4 o'clock I go to the window and wave to the men cleaning the debris. It is finaly morning. We are on our way back through the slums, through the busy, noisy city and to the airport where we board a single engine Cessna for our flight to Tanzania.