Our Emirates crew received their gifts oddly at first. It is not a common practice for them to be thanked. It was my turn to give and I literally had to place it in the boarding flight attendant’s hands while he seemed bewildered.
I was glad to have included a note:
We are traveling in celebration of a 30th, a 50th and a 60th birthday! Our ultimate destination is the beautiful and adventurous land of Africa and we are so grateful that you, our airline family, are part of our story.
Please enjoy this little sweet along the way and a tip for your van driver later. Thank you for welcoming us.
Warm regards from your Airline Family, Aisha, Eileen, Diane, Cody and Judy
As word spread throughout the flight, most of the 19 member crew stopped by to wish us happy birthday. They dressed the us in their elegant uniform hat – a traditional stewardess cap from days gone by – red, trimmed in gold and adorned with a long cream scarf which they draped beautifully on each of us for the photo. They brought decadent desserts and again we were delighted that such a simple gift would spark such fun!
Customs in Kenya was dirty and confusing. My officer overcharged for my visa, then wanted to correct the error by using the difference from Diane, then changing the receipt. There was a messy pile of forms on his desk and his demeanor reminded me of myself when I am especially hormonal, irritated and over-caffeinated.
Receipt in hand, we finally exited to find our checked luggage and had just done so when the officer came back to demand the first receipt even though I had already given it to him. He was flustered and frustrated with me. Finally he accepted that I did not have it and let me go. A customs difficulty in a country so foreign was intimidating, and now the line to exit was tremendous – but we did not complain.
Our driver, Joseph, met us outside with a joyful smile that immediately atoned for the complications. We squeezed into his small mini-van with luggage piled to the ceiling and made our slow egress thru traffic that made the 405 at rush hour look easy.
And now we are all caught up and checked in to the faded glory of the Nairobi Safari Park Hotel. It feel like our trip is about to begin – Africa at last!!!
I showered under lukewarm water that I was cautions not to swallow, refreshed and met everyone back in the lobby. Our destination was the Safari African Lodge for a dinner show and dancing.
The resort was spectacular with lush gardens and walkways. Dinner was an exotic grill featuring the ordinary chicken and beef to the more exotic crocodile and camel. We toasted with big glasses of the local beer, Tusker, and waited for the show to begin.
It was an extraordinary display of song and dance, enhanced with colorful and ever changing costume. I found myself holding my breath in awe throughout.
When the show ended all the lights went out and a chorus line of singers surrounded our table to sing a rhythmic happy birthday song. We were enchanted and felt very honored. The remainder of the night was spent dancing, laughing and taking pictures. It was a grand celebration.