Picking up the tale at Midnight – security let us through to the holding area to wait for check-in. Please remember that Dar Es Salaam is somewhere between 4-6 M people. The outer portion of the airport is open to the world with a number of cafeterias, coffee shops, souvenir stands and dozens upon dozens of taxi drivers.
The inner area holds all of a dozen airline check in counter each equipped with an overhead electronic programable sign, desk, computer, personnel and a baggage scale. Unless you have checked in before, it is impossible to figure out where your airline is setting up for check in today.
Did I mention that my flight was not on the electronic overhead signs as even scheduled today? I decided not to worry since the security guy let me into the area. So we waited about 45 minutes: me, a number of obvious tourists, a few locals and an extended family party from, it turns out, the Ukraine, who were heading home after a holiday. Right after midnight they all stood up and sang happy birthday to one very embarrassed mom in the group and presented her with flowers.
This is Tanzania – just about everyone around clapped. Since we didn’t know the words – singing along wasn’t possible.
Pre-check followed by check in followed by heading to the Tanzanian Lounge (used by all the airlines). It was at this point we were reminded that the flight was delayed at least an hour. Passport control (Passport, exit form, digital pix, fingerprints) and off to the lounge along with the real Nigerian Business man, a Tanzanian-Danish couple and their 10 month old baby. Food in the lounge and lots of beverages; vegetable samosas, Thai veg soup, biscuits, cakes, croissants and a lot of fruit. I settled in with Wifi, electrical outlet and grogginess to wait.
I attempted to sleep most of the flight to Istanbul. By the time it was light out, we were over the southern part of Egypt. Believe me when I saw that it was sand as far as I could see except for the rare glimpse of the Nile wending its way north. We were too high to see any man-made structures until close to Cairo where we veered off toward the north-east across the eastern portion of the Med. Circling above the Bosporus and the city of Istanbul, we were low enough to see the massive extent of the city and the spires of the mosques.
After the surprisingly small size of the Tanzanian airport, Ataturk was like being dumped in the middle of an ant hill with people swarming everywhere. Nothing was made easier by the literally hundreds of people making their way slowly along more interested in their cell phones that the affects of their towed luggage against the ankles of innocent fellow travelers.
Coffee, olives, soup, crackers and lots of turkish candy got me through the waiting time before my next flight. This time, on a Airbus 330, the seats went all the way flat. Food was good, the power outlet worked and we arrived pretty much on time in Frankfurt.
By now I have learned what to say at Passport Control – I just told the guy that my husband lived here and that I was visiting for two weeks. He just stamped my passport without running it through the computer which means he didn’t get the whole list of how often and how long I am really here.
Luggage, ran for the train (wheeled crappy duffles are no where near as fun as good 4-wheeled luggage) and George picked me up in Mannheim. Home.