West African Memories – The Finale!

Okay, time to wrap this series up. My final two posts came after two weeks since the one before. I was home and had started work at this point, I also managed a post where I uploaded a few photos. Anyways…


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Part Four

Oh so it’s been a while since i wrote about the end of Africa, I suppose it is time to continue the saga…. the question will be, what will I write about now?? My future plans?? Perhaps i will relate the occasional story from other trips. Then i could post a few photos and the like….
how is everyone anyways??

banner burkina faso

I returned to a comfortable house in the suburbs of Ouagadougou, where i stayed with a couple doing missionary work in Burkina Faso. It was nice to be staying in a home environment for a change, especially in an African setting. I was able to watch dvds and relax, and we visited a restaurant/club exclusively for ex-pats that even had a pool and played English-language movies.
Soon I went into town and organised a flight to Paris that evening, and also found some nice material to take home with me. I returned to the house and tried to organise tickets from Paris to Melbourne with Emirates on the net, but had trouble completing the transaction, so eventually failed.
I had to pack and prepare that afternoon, the flight was due to depart at 11.30pm, getting into Paris in the wee hours of the morning. Pack I did, and soon was ready to leave. I was taken out to dinner with some others my new friends knew (that can’t be good English!), and we had my bags in the back of the car and took off for some sort of community with lots of houses inside.
Just when i felt things we’re going alright, i tucked into the chicken and suddenly discovered I was eating something with peanuts.
When departing Australia, as I may have mentioned, I was deeply worried about the abundance of peanuts in Africa and in African cooking. But I was there, three hours before flying out, having an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts when I thought I might survive Africa without one at all. We hopped into the car/van and drove straight to the Doctor who was surprised to see me again, that’s for sure.

This might be where I’d leave you…. but I am not in the mood for a cliff-hanger today.
I was a bit sick from the peanuts, but suddenly felt fine. I was worried that I was staying in Ouagadougou again, but the Doctor said I was free to leave, so we drove to the airport from there where check-in took an inordinate amount of time.
It all seemed to take forever, I missed out on converting back my local currency as the exchange booth closed at 10pm, and then I thought I had lost my phone and my friends left (ever so kindly and without my asking) to look for it. Then I found it and was so embarrassed.
Slowly we moved from one procedure to the next. My passport was checked six times, the plane was going to be full and it seemed to be taking forever.
I spoke to a couple of Air France hostesses taking the flight about all the checks and they told me it was important and gave an example of an Air France jet that was blown up in Chad. This did not help me at all.
Despite being on the more comfortable Airbus it was quire cramped, and I was lucky to get an hour or so’s sleep. I woke during turbulence over Algiers, and at 5.30am or so in the morning we descended on Charles De Gaulle Airport, Paris…

The offending chicken.
The offending chicken.

THOUGHTS: Ahhhhh I do remember. Flying to Paris was a bit of a nightmare that flight, it was so full and I had heard nightmare stories about hijacking on my way from terminal to plane. Ouagadougou Airport is small and the whole process took an excessive amount of time to complete. I would never have thought I’d be arriving at that airport a little more than 18 months later! But life is funny that way!


Wednesday, 26th July, 2006


An African Conclusion, A conclusion (Part Five)

This part doesn’t really take place in Africa…. hehe

At Charles De Galle.
At Charles De Galle.

Well, getting through the airport in Paris, Charles De Gaulle, was pretty easy. In Australia, if you have come on a flight from any place you are under intense scrutiny, in Paris i didn’t even need to open the passport. Everyone seemed to be let through without any serious sort of passport examination.
I waited a little while for my baggage, and then I set out to book a flight home and to find a bed for the night. Having only one hours sleep, and still nowhere near 100% fit, i needed some serious rest. I went to find the Emirates office to book a ticket, which took forever to find and in the end was closed. Of course!! So in the end i found a computer terminal and tried to book a flight home for the next day.
Eventually I did, much to my relief, and got a very cheap price too – around 700 EUROS…. thats darn cheap, especially for a flight booked for the next day. Then i hopped a bus to an airport hotel. I should mention that the temperature was about 1 degree celcius, and there was snow falling all around the huge Charles De Gaulle airport. What an incredible contrast to the 40 degrees i had been experiencing only a day before.

Ibis at Charles De Gaulle looking out the window at SNOW. It had be 40 degrees in Burkina Faso.
Ibis at Charles De Gaulle looking out the window at SNOW. It had be 40 degrees in Burkina Faso.

I checked into a hotel that was comfortable but well overpriced for the size of the room. Thats airport hotels i guess, and to be expected. I considered taking the metro into Paris but decided i was far too tired. In the end I slept the afternoon, went down for a pretty nice meal, and returned to the room where i fell asleep again for the night.
I awoke to find I had missed breakfast proper and would have to survive on the after 10am breakfast which was basic at best. Still, I had a croissant in France. At the terminal there was a mazzive queue already for the flight to Dubai, and it took an hour to check in, possibly more.
The flight left a few minutes late, and finally I felt like was heading home. I met a very nice girl – Pia, from Brisbane on this flight. At the Dubai airport we both had a few hours to kill, so we spent them singing and reminiscing about the Buffy musical episode.
We parted ways too quickly though 😦 and I was on my way home. The flight stopped for an hour in Singapore… and felt like it would never end. My stomach developed pain which was not good, and sleep didn’t really some. after around 25 hours including stops in airports from Paris, i was touching down in good old Melbourne.
But it wasn’t over… after waiting an age for my baggage, i was then subjected to thorough searches as were most people on the flight. It was now 2.30 am when i got out of the airport. Perhaps the authorities were just bored as it was the only flight in at the time… im not sure…
but home in australia i was….
and three days later back in hospital for tests and observation. The stomach remained bad, anxiety bad too…
but that was back in early march, and life now is on the up.

THOUGHTS: And there you have it, I made it home. And didn’t post a lot after that for the rest of 2006. I was actually in Monash Hospital two or three days after arriving home and they did a whole bunch of tests of me. I stayed overnight but they gave me a clean bill of health I am glad to say.

I remember on the flight to Dubai being told I spoke French with an African accent, which was pretty amusing. I remember the snow at Charles de Gaulle. In March. It was terribly surreal. I think with the long flights I was just so relieved for it all to be over. I had a fair bit of healing to do. I was physically pretty weak for a while, and mentally too – the Larium used to treat me initially for the malaria had done a bit of a number on me and although I was soon working, I was finding sleep very difficult.

I was pretty down also because I hadn’t made it all the way to Senegal as was my plan. And I guess upon arriving home, that was over as a dream. But it’s a funny thing, there came a point that I started to plan to return to West Africa – to see Mali and Senegal. It wasn’t really that long after my trip. But perhaps that’s something for…. Next Saturday? May the Journey Never End!


    1. i know how hard it is Agness. But I got by in West Africa. in the french countries especially you can find western food. West African cuisine actually uses peanuts ad nauseum, which was far too risky for me. In the french speaking countries french cooking was easy to find. I think Ghana was the hardest for me. Even with western dishes they piled on the pepper!

  1. Wow…. this series has been epic!! But great to hear that you started planning your return – I did exactly the same after getting terribly sick and not being able to complete my trip through Pakistan in 2006 – and ended up moving here!!

  2. Interesting read Andy. I remember the plane bombed on its way from Chad to Paris. It was actually UTA (later bought by Air France). They were my favorite airline, I had flown them the year before to Lusaka and it was an exotic airline, flying to these weird places. I think it made 3 stops on the way to Lusaka, stopping in places like Libreville and Brazzaville. I still remember that big 747-300 landing on those small runways. Anyway, about the bombing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UTA_Flight_772
    Nice memories, brings back my own.
    Frank (bbqboy)

    1. ahhh it doesnt appear to be quite as I recall being told. but I wouldnt expect it to correspond exactly from a tale I was told, and then had to remember. definitely the plane took off from Brazzaville I thought it was primarily a hijack. so. sometimes the memory plays tricks! thanks for commenting

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