We are home. Finally. After several days of journeying, we are this morning well refreshed from a long night’s sleep in our own bed. O, was it sweet. So, for all of you worried about our safety the last two months, rest assured we are back in our American home, for what it’s worth. For those of you who are more interested in the stories, here you go…
I will start back from our leaving Bongolo, because we didn’t really post much about that trip yet. We took an SUV, driven by one of the guys who works at the hospital, about 2 1/2 hours up to the region city center of Mouila.
The entire journey was just over 60 miles, but it took so long because the roads were full of holes so big that calling them potholes would be an upgrade. At one point along the way, we couldn’t even get through the road because a hauling truck was stuck in the mud/”puddle.” This rain-filled hole was so big that we thought it was a bridge that had gone out! To get around, people that were apparently with this truck had machete-ed a path through the surrounding grass.
Once we got to Mouila, we had to make a few stops before catching our plane. The first was at this big pink house that is now serving as the cell phone store headquarters. All of the cell phones stores (which are everywhere!) are painted this hurt-your-eyes pink color. We had to get a new SIM card for the phone so we could call Pastor Sangoye to pick us up when we got to Libreville. (Although, once we got to the Mouila airport we realized we didn’t have any units left to make a call- go figure) I’m just glad we got to see the pink house.
Next, we went to the bakery to buy our lunch. We had stopped here on the way down and fell in love with the “pain au chocolat” and “pain au raisin”– two incredible pastries. This time we also indulged in the cream-filled variety. We were intrigued by the swan-looking things that I zoomed in on, but we went for the more boring long skinny thing next to it. It was amazing!! In the top pic you can also see Phillipe, our driver.
Our next stop was on hospital business, but it was interesting to me. This little building is where all of the people in a some 100 mile radius have to come to get their HIV meds. As I have mentioned previously, I think, Bongolo just got permission to have these medicines, but we haven’t been able to locate any in Gabon yet. So for now, we still have to send patients here.
Next, we went off to the airport. It is forbidden to take pictures of government buildings or people in Gabon, so we don’t have a photo of that. It was this really big open building that we could not figure out for what reason it needed to be so big. They had all these rooms and areas that looked like they might be filled if someone really important were to come, but mostly just sit empty. We had to get there at 12:30 to check in, but our plane didn’t come until 4. You never can be sure when it will leave Libreville to get to us or if it will go to Tchibanga (the other stop) before or after Mouila. When you ask the people at the airport these questions, they think you are crazy for thinking they should know these answers.
Once on the airplane, God treated us to quite a show.
This was less than half of what you could see. It was like a full circle rainbow!
Libreville from the air
Now flash forward to our trip back to the States. We got on our first plane at about 10PM Sunday night. This took us to Paris. Slept in an uncomfortably freezing, but fashionable chic Paris airport. Got on our next plane at 10AM. This took us to “Détroi,” as AirFrance would call it. In Detroit we were in a daze- half because of our some 30+ hours with little sleep, half because of all the American-ness. We walked around trying to decide what food we craved the most for a snack/lunch/dinner/whatever meal you eat when you’ve been eating every couple hours with time changes and no sleep. We decided on chicken nuggets and fries from McDonald’s. Cliché, but oh so good. Our waistlines already began re-expanding as we drooled in front of the menu. And lo and behold, we finally saw the Eiffel Tower!!!
We flew in or out of Paris four times and never once saw it. Between darkness, fog, and just poor luck, we just never did see it. However, as we took our seats in the McDonald’s of the Detroit airport, our eyes feasted on its glory. As tired as we were, we couldn’t help but grab one last photo.
Soon after, we got on our little airplane back to Indy. We read through the Delta magazine and SkyMall and we were home!! Boy, SkyMall is one interesting thing to read through when you’ve been in Africa for two months. You should try it some time.