Noon, Friday, 11 August 2006 (Paris time, 6 hours ahead of EDT)
Our plane touches down on a runway at Charles de Gaulle airport outside of Paris. We cherish a slim hope that they might have held our connecting flight up for us (it was scheduled to leave at about 11:10 a.m. Paris time), but by the time they bus us from the airplane, which is parked way out in the bush, to the terminal, we read on the departure screen that boarding has closed for our flight. No reason to rush now. We're going to be here a while.
1 p.m., same day
We take the shuttle bus from terminal 2C to the terminal where we were scheduled to depart for Niamey. We have to stop at every other possible terminal, first 2A, then 2B, then 2D, then 2F, before finally arriving at 2E . We find the transfer desk and immediately recognize colleagues Dave and Anora Totman and their two small children, who are with EBM. Dave is the youth pastor at Sahel Academy, where Daniel and Suzanne attend school. They had also missed the flight to Niamey. We are not alone in our plight (or should I say flight?). We get in line and shortly afterwards SIM colleagues Ralph and Meridee Sauers with their two children come into the room accompanied by a short-termer going to Niger with the Assemblies of God. They had also missed the flight. So there are 13 of us in this together. What a relief that we don't have to face this by ourselves. It takes nearly three hours to get through the line. Meanwhile, everyone is tired. Here is Daniel expressing what we all felt at that moment.
Because there are only two flights a week from Paris to Niamey, and because we had so much baggage, it took almost two hours to get another booking for our destination. But we would have to spend two nights in Paris--at our own expense!! At first the airline wanted us to collect all our baggage for security reasons and take it with us to the hotel, but we simply refused to do that and tried to explain how impossible that would be. Finally they relented and agreed to keep the baggage for two nights. We asked if the baggage couldn't go on the next Tuesday flight to Niamey and we go on another flight. They said the baggage had to accompany us. So, after five hours of standing in line and waiting, we are finally booked on an Air France flight to Morroco on Sunday, 13 August, with a connecting flight to Niamey the same day.
Nine of us (excluding the Totmans) proceed through customs with just our carry-ons and proceed out into the main lobby, where we have to make our own hotel arrangements. We elect to go into town because it is cheaper. After some searching, we find two hotels near each other so we can be together. It will just mean a 30 minute train ride to get to the center of town.
We board our train and head into Paris. Suzanne has never made this trip before, but the other three of us have all visited the City of Lights at some time. We find our hotel and check in. It is called the Hotel Metropol. For those of you who know Paris, it is near the Gare du Nord. We leave our baggage and go out to find something to eat.
Due to the latenes of the hour, we decide to eat at a street-side cafe in typical French fashion. We are only a block from our hotel and across the street from the Gare du Nord. We order the menu, which includes a choice of an appetizer, a main course, a drink, and a dessert or cheese. I have tomatoes with a tasty vinaigrette, pepper steak with fries, a bottle of apple juice, and an apple tart. It is delicious and really hits the ravenous spot. Here is a photo of the street at the restaurant.
We head back to the hotel and get ready for bed. We are naturally exhausted. I fall asleep immediately, but after a two-hour power nap, I wake up and cannot fall back to sleep, so I take a Tylenol PM. I have a tension migraine and take some Ibuprofen. I can't breathe due to my allergies, so I take some Nasonex. I am in a panic and my heart is beating furiously, so I take some panic medication. The room is hot and I'm sweaty, so I crack open the window even though it is cold and blustery outside. I have to go to the bathroom. Finally at about 1:30 a.m., I fall back into a deep slumber and sleep the sleep of the dead until 10:00 the next morning.
That was day 2 of the saga. I'll post more tomorrow.
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