The airport attendant behind the counter was waving one of those rounded hand fans found in many old African American churches, while the person waiting for the attendant to check her documents wiped sweat off her neck with a paper towel, which already looked ragged because it was made in Africa. I wouldn’t have noticed this normally, but because we have been traveling through these airports the past couple days, these oddities began to illuminate themselves without much effort. So, I thought I would share with you a few of the observations I made from third-world airports.
First, it seemed strange to me to have multiple shops selling the same exact items. The Nairobi airport had Kenyan shops selling multiple kinds of African wares. They ranged from masks to magnets, shirts to sandals, and key chains to kikoys (African wraps for women). Many of these things were unique, but most were exactly the same. As I passed from one shop to the other, I wondered if they actually thought through this or just wanted to see how unobservant we travelers were.
Secondly, what is it with the lack of air-conditioning?? When we were in Nairobi, the airport personnel shuffled the passengers into a large HOT waiting room cordoned off from the other people walking through the airport. One would think that since we paid a good chunk of money for our plane tickets that they would be courteous and kick on the air. Nope!! And to ask them to turn the temperature down would be akin to us Americans asking the President to have dinner with us. No chance.
Finally, and the most amusing, was the punctuality the airlines had. Our flight from Cameroon to Kenya was slated to take off at 9:20pm. Therefore, we decided to arrive at the airport at 7:30pm. We made it through check-in easily and sat down at the only restaurant in the airport to have a soda. It wasn’t long after we sat down that airport personnel motioned that we should get to the spot where we boarded the plane. To make a long story short, the plane took off at 9:05pm, 15 minutes earlier than scheduled. Taking off, I wondered if there was someone who had been left behind thinking that all planes at least waited for the right time to take off.
Third-World airports are a thing to be reckoned with, for sure. Unfortunately, they do not operate as most of us would think. So as you travel the world, which I hope you do on vacation and missions’ trips, be looking for these peccadilloes for they are sure to amuse and perplex you.