A funny thing happened on my way back to the US. I boarded my direct flight from Lagos, Nigeria to Atlanta, GA. It was a red-eye flight that was set to get me back about 5:30am. As I settled into my seat for the 13 hour flight, I had no idea of the adventure that lay ahead of me.
About 45 minutes into the flight, there was an announcement over the speaker inquiring if there was a doctor on-board the plane… Yikes, I thought that only happened in the movies and figured… hmmm, that can’t be good so, I got a bit nosy and kept looking back. I was sitting in the back third of the plane and noticed a man walk to the back and speak with the flight attendants. I began to see some commotion near the last row on the opposite side of the plane. About 20 minutes later, we learned what the fuss was all about… a woman gave birth to a baby on the plane. Wow, Crazy right? Crazier things have happened. The pilot came over the speaker and indicated that we were going to be making an unexpected landing in Dakar, Senegal…. Oh well, so much for the direct flight but, now I was intrigued.
The plane landed and we were asked to remain in our seats as they escorted the woman off the plane with an IV drip along with her bundle of joy. I thought that we would be back in the air shortly…. Nope, wasn’t going to happen. After sitting on the tarmac for about an hour, I noticed 3 buses pulling up on the side of the plane. Uh-oh, looks we’ve got an extended stay in Senegal at least for awhile. We were taken off the plane and loaded onto the buses where we had our passports collected from us. Ok now, I’m panicking… don’t mess with a woman’s passport. Then they whisked us away to the King Fahd Palace Hotel which from the lobby looked beautiful but, at that point I was tired and exhausted. All I wanted was a hot shower and comfy bed as it was about 3 am. We were each given a room and pin # for the phone to make a free 15 minute international call to our loved ones. Oh yeah, I almost forgot I needed to let my mom know that I wouldn’t be at the airport at 6 am. She was happy to hear I was ok but, not surprised… I guess chalking it up to another one of my adventures.
I got some sleep and woke up about 9 am thinking… okay, now what? Where do I eat? When are we leaving? Where is my passport? So many questions with answers to none so, I headed downstairs to the front desk where I learned answer #1… a breakfast buffet was being served in the dining hall. Thank goodness, as a sista was a bit hungry after all the excitement of the evening. I ate with my fellow passengers trading questions on what’s going on. Finally we saw the captain and crew sit down to eat, we pounced… What’s the deal? When are we leaving? Why did we have to get off the plane? The captain in a very calm, authoritative manner informed us there was a problem that was incurred upon landing in Dakar and a new plane was being brought in for us to fly back in. It was supposedly already in route and was coming from Atlanta… I kid you not! Anyway, they told us to sit back relax and enjoy the surroundings, they thought the other plane should be in around 2 pm so, check the board in the lobby for details.
Marooned in Paradise
Alright, now with some time on my hands… the adventure (of sorts) began, I mean we were stuck there at the hotel but, we were still in Senegal and I was determined to make the best of it. My fellow passengers from breakfast & I decided to check things out… we went outside, soaked up some sun, talked, made new friends, dipped our toes in the water. I met a man from Arkansas who sold rice in Nigeria, I met a Nigerian lawyer who did business in the US, I met people from all over but, we shared the experience. There’s nothing like being marooned in a foreign country with a bunch of strangers and no passport to bring a group together. I had the chance to dust off some of my French skills (from back in the days of high school and college) as all the tv channels were in French and I tried to speak some with the hotel staff although, thank goodness they also spoke English.
That afternoon, we were picked up from the hotel and returned to the airport where we were given back our passports (thank goodness). We made it to Atlanta about 11 pm that night. I had survived, I rolled with it. But, I did add a new location to my Bucket List as I definitely would love to explore Senegal on my own terms… experience more of the culture, explore the country, try some local foods and see some sites. It just goes to show… Be open to new experiences and adventures as they can pop up at anytime, anywhere but, there is SO much to be learned from them.