Yesterday, my day began as any other travel day with the sound of my alarm waking me. I was travelling to Tanzania. However, this is where the “normal” travel day experiences ended. As I got out of bed, I took note of the heavy rains pummeling my house. Because I have a tin roof, even gentle rain sounds loud.
After getting ready for the day and making my final travel preparations, I called my coworker, Shara, who was in a taxi and on her way to my house to pick me up. We were planning to share the ride to the airport. However, our plans quickly changed. In Nairobi, heavy rains can create unbelievable traffic jams. Decreased visibility, countless potholes, and flooded roads bring the traffic to a screeching halt. Shara told me she was stuck in completely stopped traffic. We decided that I should travel in a separate taxi to try to save time. Our taxi service that we typically use was trying to find someone to help me out, but we were running out of time. Hakuna matata (this really does mean “no worries/problem”) I thought, I’ll just use Uber!
I opened the app and requested an Uber. Shortly after, I called the driver to give more instructions on finding my house (addresses and finding homes can be a challenge in Nairobi). What would typically take less than 5 minutes to travel, took my driver more than 15 minutes. I began to get nervous that I would be late to the airport.
Eventually, the Uber driver pulled into my driveway and I thought, “Oh good! It’s going to be OK.” I pulled up my jacket hood and tried to stay as dry as possible by hopping on rocks to avoid the ankle-deep water in my driveway. I flung my bag unceremoniously into the back seat of the car and slid in quickly. My driver, Ethan, greeted me with a smile and then started his car---except, it didn’t start. A few minutes of investigation revealed that the battery had died. Oh just fantastic.
I did my weird hop, skip, and jump back into the house grabbed my car keys, a giant umbrella, and my rain boots. Meanwhile, Ethan had walked to my neighbor’s house to get some help. Hakuna matata. My neighbor, Ethan, and I were able to use my car to jump start the Uber vehicle. Next, I dashed back into the house to put my keys away, switch shoes, and try to dry off a bit.
Finally, we were on the way! I was nervous, but thought we might still be OK. There was a lot of traffic and many roads had a mild amount of flooding, but we were moving along. We reached the road that the airport is on and the traffic was very slow. Eventually, we discovered why. This was Mombassa “road”:
Look like a river to you? I promise you, this is a road!
We cautiously waded thorough the water. Hakuna matata. We made it past the flooded portion of the road. Once again, I optimistically thought we might make it. The next thing I know; Ethan pulled into a fuel station. I reminded him that we are in a serious time crunch; I needed to reach the ticket counter by no later than 10am (my international flight was at 11:10am). He told me that if we we didn't get fuel, we would run out before we reached the airport (less than 2 miles away at this point), but that I shouldn’t worry because we would make it. Hakuna matata. I tried to swallow back my anxiety and just be patient.
We reached the airport, went through vehicle and passenger security, and drove to the drop off point. I hopped out of the car, quickly paid Ethan, and ran into the airport where I had to go through security again. I raced up to the ticket counter—9:59am, I made it!
Unfortunately, Shara wasn’t there yet. I explained the situation to the airline employee, expecting that I would have to change Shara’s flight to one later in the day. At this point, it seemed impossible that she would make it in time. Hakuna matata. The very kind worker agreed to check us both in (must be done at least 1 hour before the flight). She told me that if Shara arrived by 10:30am, she would issue us both our tickets and we should make it. I passed along the message to Shara and continued praying for God to make a way, according to His will. It hadn’t been an easy trip for Shara, she left her house at 7:30am. Usually she can make the trip in 30 minutes, but she had been stuck in traffic for more than 2 hours.
Hakuna matata. Her driver said they would make it. She followed the same crazy path that I had been through and raced up to the ticket counter at 10:29am, talk about timing! We grabbed our tickets and passed through immigration quickly. Next, we arrived to a long line of people waiting for the final security check (yes, this is the third time we went through security. This is how it works at our airport). We showed one of the workers that our flight was boarding in 5 minutes. Want to guess what he told us? Hakuna matata. He instructed us to just get in line, it would be OK.
I continued to feel nervous that we would miss our flight, but what choice did we have? After what felt like a very long wait, we made our way through security and proceeded quickly to our gate. I remarked that it was a good thing we were both wearing flip flops as we were able to slip in and out of our shoes in seconds, not wasting any precious time! Would we make it? Hakuna matata. Our gate was the closest one! By God’s grace, what felt like a miracle was accomplished, we didn’t miss our flight!