Sunday, October 5, 2008

To Congo, To Congo

everything we now own. Small or big?

The day is finally here -- getting to the airport, checking in the bags, holding your breath when you put the bags on the scale...

Flights going to Africa in general I’ve found are sticklers for bag weight. One doesn’t have to wonder about this, seeing most of the people in line with superfluous quantities of ripping-at-the-seams-fully-stuffed-luggage.

I’m sure it’s big business for the airline too! Overweight baggage costs can really sock ya.

Our bags were indeed only slightly over, and we were lucky enough to have a counter attendant who didn’t really care. She also asked to weigh our carry-on bags, which I’ve never seen, and we were worried to discover that yes, our carry-on bags were overweight too. One duffel was 2 pounds over, one was just right and one was WAY too heavy (none of them delighted Goldilocks).

Unsurprisingly, the heavy one was our Tech Bag -- full of laptops, cameras, chargers, batteries, external harddrives. Things that were not acceptable to lose in a checked-bag situation.

She told us that they’d probably weigh that bag again at the gate. So what did we do? At the gate, we pulled all the huge bulk battery packs out and shoved them into the various pockets of Adam’s cargo pants.

Definitely a story to keep, laughing and sitting on the floor, stuffing Adam with batteries.

They didn’t even weigh us, though! Or our bags.

We got onto the plane and found ourselves perplexed at the choice of music: Sassy jazz renditions of... bad Christmas music? Not “bad” per sé, but cheesy. Like a jazz rendition of Jingle Bells? Or Let it Snow? So strange.

Despite my TV not working, we had a really nice, quick flight. We sat in bulkhead and did our can-can again. We slept most of the way -- Adam didn’t even wake up when we touched down in Rome to refuel and re-stock the foods.

There was a hilariously obnoxious businessman who kept changing into new seats that still weren’t his. It turned out he was in a middle seat (he’d booked the flight only 3 days ago) and he kept insisting on being upgraded to Business Class or having the poor stewardess sit in the middle seat to see how cramped it was. We laughed from our comfy two-person seats quietly, though were horrified when he took off his shoes, revealing mangled, tangled feet. He also did funny old man calisthenics during stopovers and no-seatbelt time.

And of course, the ubiquitous missionaries. Excited by visions of the desert out the window, almost a stereotype of themselves with their supershort hair and applicé-ed ugly novelty sweaters. One group of them (all in matching windbreakers) commented on our luggage tags -- all monkeys -- so we told them we worked with chimpanzees.

“Ah ha!” said a red-faced, silver-haired man, chuckling, “so do I!” and he looked around the terminal disdainfully.

Ahh, scary missionaries....

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