April 6 - Boubacar's 10th Birthday & Departure

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120406aSince I'm scheduled to leave home at 4 pm this afternoon, I decided to celebrate Boubacar's 10th birthday tomorrow a day early. Yesterday I made his birthday cake, and so this morning it was time to celebrate - with a bit melancholy because of my imminent departure.

120406b120406cI made a white cake with creamcheese frosting to change it up a bit. They all loved it. He blew out the candles, and I cut up and distributed the cake. It's always gone quickly with that many people!

120406dThen everyone gave their gifts - and got a soda if they did. Again, everything went really quickly. I gave him some clothes.

120406e

LEAVING MALI

Then it was time for me to finish packing and getting ready. Usually Air France flies out just before midnight, but because of the crisis, they changed their departure time to 8:20 pm, and would stop in Casablanca on the way to Paris. Because of the chaos at the airport on Wedneday, I also decided to leave the house earlier than usual. So it was really weird to me to leave at 4 pm already.

We did all the praying and handing over already at the prayer meeting yesterday, and so all that was left to do was to say good-bye to everyone. I had already explained everything to Paul, and was confident that he'd do well. As I said my good-byes, I decided not to do too much thinking at that point. Saloum was driving, and Paul was coming along on the ride to the airport.

A few hundred meters before entering the airport, the military had set up a check-point. They looked into each car and on the back of the truck, and then waved us through. We parked the car, and walked to the terminal entrance. Everything looked pretty normal really. There was no more military or the hundreds of people Paul said were there the day before yesterday. I was so early that Air France hadn't started check-in, and so I wasn't allowed inside. So Paul and Saloum said good-bye and left.

I didn't have to wait very long before they started. I went inside and was thankful to head to the privileged check-in line where I was the first person. No upgrade this time. I went through immigration - where I noticed the officers asking leaving Malians for their phone numbers and writing them down - and then through security, then headed to the frequent flyer lounge. The lounge was pretty empty. I got the internet password and settled into a chair with some water. I had plenty of time to kill, and time went by VERY slowly.

Later than usual - only 45 min. before scheduled departure (usually they start 75 min before) - they started boarding. A while back I figured out that they DID have a line for frequent flyers for me (it's unmarked and invisible). So again I was through quickly, went through the back search, and another body scan, and onto the bus that would take us to the plane. And so I was one of the first people on the plane, and settled into my seat - an untypical aisle seat because of my fast. I've never traveled while fasting before, and wasn't looking forward to refusing the meal that I so enjoy on Air France.

Since boarding started so late, we actually left an hour later than planned. Though it was relatively early, I was extremely tired. The last night in Mali had not been a good or long one. Still I decided to watch one movie (finally a few good ones), and glanced over to my neighbor's food from time to time. All I had was water.  I was too tired to finish the movie, and tried to get some sleep.

 

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