If there is anything typical about a travel day into Melut it is that there is no typical. Planes are re-routed, delays are abundent I guess the most consistent thing is that our pilot is sure to be amazing (yea AIM AIR!). We thought you’d want to see what it takes for our family to get from Nairobi to Melut and why we don’t like to fly out and in more then once every four months.
Our travel adventure really starts a few days before where we must weigh all our “carry on” luggage. Each passenger is allotted 20 kilos of weight so everything (including water, jackets, any cheese and chocolate) must be weighed and re-weighed on our hanging scale.
The luggage scale
our carry on KG’s….doesn’t everyone pack a toilet back and shower head in their carry-ons? Those green buckets are filled with cheese and chocolate…for four months…for 11 people…
This morning our taxi was coming to get us at 6:30 (we got to sleep in!) so we woke up to get everything ready and feed the kids their last breakfast of eggs for awhile.
6:25 am A big van picks us up and our cab driver takes us to the airport (after we try and fit the luggage inside the vehicle…)
Without traffic it is only a fifteen-twenty minute ride to the airport so we arrive right at 6:45…
After we pass through customs we try and find a seat. This is the airport lobby inside (you can see it all in one picture pretty cool right?)
You emerge from the lobby straight onto the airway so we have to watch the kids pretty closely to make sure they don’t dart out to touch any airplanes
It takes about 2 hours to load the plane before we can take off so these clowns try and stay out of trouble in a very small lobby
We pass the time by rocking the baby…
….Playing slide around the circular seating
…playing taggie tag…
We honestly spend most of the time eating alot of snacks and just sitting around feeling tired…
FINALLY it is time to load the plane. 🙂 The puzzle piece of fitting cargo and passengers has been accomplished.
Ready for take off (about 8:15 am)
This is a big part of the first half of our trip where we usually hit alot of turbulence. Remember these are unpressurized cabins so we fly at low altitudes…Even on anti-nausea meds someone usually loses their lunch in our family
Goodbye Nairobi (and Wilson airport right below us) see you in four months!
A run in with the seatbelt shoulder strap + one tired five year old. All our kids have at least one meltdown as the day progresses…
The view from our plane, Mount Logonaut in Kenya
Daniel enjoying his third breakfast of the morning a bagel and cream cheese on the flight…the kids had seen me pack it and were looking forward to it all morning (bagels are hard to come by in Nairobi and impossible to find in Melut except on the rare occasion I make them in my kitchen)
10:30 ish Not enough fuel with a full load to make it to Loki so we stopped at Eldoret to fuel up. This is an international airport (though I’ve never seen flights from other countries booked to here)…isn’t it beautiful! We were the only plane there at the time 🙂
When we arrived there was a field trip to the airport they all just stayed to watch us arrive and depart and fuel up…
We all have to disembark to fuel the plane. This is one of the nicest airports I’ve ever seen!…well in the past year…
Daniel fell asleep for a little cat nap on the way to Loki
Approaching Loki (around 11:30 am). This is an international airport in Kenya that we will stamp out of Kenya at, re-fuel and change planes.
The view as we approach our next stop…we call it the plane graveyard…kind of like on pirates of the Caribbean ride, “beware all ye who enter” 🙂
The airport lobby and customs office at Loki this is where we stamp out of and into Kenya.
This is the lobby to the airport…and the first time we’ve been through that we’ve seen a TV…I’m telling you this is deluxe travel right here…filling out six visa forms seems much easier when half the business is occupied with national geographic…
Getting onto our new plane. The other one was out of flying hours before being serviced so they unloaded and re loaded all our cargo…just an hour delay…not bad!
Our co-pilot for the next leg of the journey
1pm ish Exiting Loki after changing planes we get to view the plane graveyard one last time…
We are now in SSudan…isn’t it just beautiful!
Getting ready for the next leg of the trip with a movie…or in flight entertainment. The planes are so loud that you have to use headphones to hear anything (including talk to others via microphones)
The airport in Kapoeta. We are getting our visas stamped here. This is the first time I’ve ever seen another plane on the ground at this stop. Restrooms are located in the bushes to the right.
Waiting for Dad to stamp into South Sudan and get visas for teammates. It takes us this time almost two hours…but it isn’t too hot today. Local kids swarm the plane and Daniel observes…and cries from the heat as the hours pass…
Cows present the biggest threat to the safety of this runway…these guys are all moving out of our way…
2:00 ish Before we leave we must clear the runway of cows (of course)
The town of Kapoeta from the air. One of those buildings is the immigration office.
The plane is not just carrying passengers but CARGO for our teammates and the medical facilities in DORO. This is what is right next to my seat..
2:40 pm. Bathroom break…you didn’t really think we could make it an entire flight without any of the kids needing to use the facilities did you? We bring empty water bottles for just this reason…and yes boys are much easier then girls when this happens…
Our view for most of the journey…the Nile river. Isn’t SSudan just breathtaking?
3:00pm William finally falls asleep
J and the pilot trying to convince via radio the airport to stay open for us when we realize we will be landing after 4:14pm…
3:45 pm Daniel is ready to be there and we are feeling a bit nervous that we will not make it to Paloich by 4:15 and the airport will close which means overnighting in DORO And traveling again tomorrow…
4:45 pm Approaching Paloich
Preparing for our fourth landing of the day…The airstrip in Paloich
5:30 pm Landing in Paloich. There is an oil company here so they built a runway with pavement and an airport (without a bathroom or other things you may expect but still it looks nice from the outside!). The airport closes at 4:30 but they stayed open for us (it only sees a few planes a day) … yea!
5:45 pm The plane left for DORO and we are sitting on the runway with our luggage waiting for a vehicle to pick us up. We only had to wait a half hour (can you see the restroom ie grass behind us?)
6pm The GTC vehicle broke, our teammate hitched a ride to the airport and then was able to convince a local NGO to pick us up in this pickup. The boys and I shared the front seat and J, the luggage and the girls were in the pickup bed for the hour drive home.
Daniel falls asleep on the car ride back…the potholes were so big he literally was bounced all over the place but sleep won out on comfort!
6:10 pm A bit hard to tell from this photo but the hour long ride is full of some pretty intense potholes…the hit your head on the ceiling type…
6:50 pm The road “home” from the airport. We were racing daylight this trip
Approximately 13 hours from leaving our Nairobi guest house I walked in my front door…coming home to this view from my front door makes even long days to get here totally worth it…
All the girls on campus had a henna dance party while the women were at classes to celebrate my girls return…I stumbled in at the end of the party you should of heard the peals of laughter…hair day, henna made of berries, roasting corn over coals. PJ called it the best day EVER…again I’d journey much longer to arrive to this 🙂
We seek to empower our children, our teammates and our Sudanese friends to love and know more of who God is through acts of loving service and biblical teaching.