Well, it has been an interesting couple of days.
The plan was to leave for Kenya early Friday morning. Now, both Dad and Steven have fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants personality types. (I do too, frankly, but compared to them I seem like I don’t.) So a few things were left until the last minute, which made me a little nervous.
Steven apparently lost his passport at some point. His only recourse was to drive up to Seattle, where they offer “Urgent Travel” passport service, and get a new one–but this had to be done within three days of travel. So he made an appointment for Wednesday.
Meanwhile, we all applied for our visas, but only mine went through. Dad and Steven both got error messages, which it took them a while to figure out. Ultimately, Steven’s error was due to the fact that he’d put in his old passport number and then gotten a new passport the next day. So he corrected his passport number and re-submitted. Dad’s error was that his passport was expiring in just under six months, which is not cool under Kenya’s visa rules.
Both these problems didn’t get discovered until Thursday night. And we were supposed to fly out Friday morning.
Not gonna lie, I was a bit miffed. There was no chance of Dad being able to come on the trip, but I thought if Steven’s visa came through by the next morning the two of us could just go. But if it didn’t, then what? Should I just…go by myself?
The trip, you must understand, was going to be a multi-purpose trip. Dad started working for Open Hands, and was taking this trip to see some of their savings groups in action. I was invited along, partly just as a travel companion because Mom was tired of traveling, and partly to take some photos and videos for upcoming PR trips Dad will take. Then Steven came on board because he’s always wanted to go back to Kenya. Dad then arranged for us to arrive several days before the rest of the Open Hands people, giving us time to visit some of Steven’s old friends and do some sightseeing.
When our plans were abruptly halted Thursday night, Dad focused his energy on getting to Kenya by Tuesday. Even though the Seattle Passport Agency insists that you need to make an appointment, Steven said that some people had just showed up. So Dad decided to leave at 4:30 am the next morning and drive to Seattle to try to get a passport before the weekend.
Meanwhile, Steven decided to see if his visa would come through by the next morning, when we’d planned to leave for the airport.
And I contemplated going to Kenya by myself. It would make a good story at least, right?
But as I lay in bed, trying to fall asleep, my stomach began hurting. An odd sort of stabbing gassy pain that I get every once in a while. A pain that makes sleep impossible, and cannot be eased by painkillers. The only thing that helps is heat, and that only makes a vague difference. Given enough time it eases on its own, but the path there is sleepless.
So I just lay there, hour after hour, wide awake.
Still, sometimes in these moments where everything goes wrong, I get what I call an “eye of the hurricane” feeling. Where I suddenly feel completely resigned to all the pain and disappointment, and a feeling of absolute peace overwhelms me. This only seems to happen in the middle of the night, and only when I’m in terrible pain. Actually, usually in the moment when the pain begins to ease up just slightly. In any case, this “eye of the hurricane” feeling swept over me. I felt like my life was somehow going to be wonderful. It was very strange.
By about 1:30 am, the pain had eased enough that I found myself sleeping for short stretches before the pain jolted me awake again. At 5 am, Steven sent me a text saying his visa had not come through.
Unfortunately, by this point my “eye of the hurricane” feeling had ended and I was sleepless, grumpy, and disappointed. As much as I wished I were the sort of person who would just hop on the plane and go anyway, I just did not have it in me at that moment. I was already in pain and sleep deprived, and did not need a long and lonely travel experience on top of that.
So I stayed home too.
Dad was busy all day making everything right again. He managed to get a new passport, and also switch our tickets so we’d fly out on Tuesday and come home several days later than we’d initially planned. After I went back to bed and actually got a few hours of decent sleep, Steven and I went and got another round of Covid tests. I made some inquiries and figured out that my visa would still be valid even if I arrived in the country later than planned, and I also made a Covid testing appointment for dad.
Right now, I have a negative Covid test and am all prepped to go on Tuesday. Both Dad and Steven had to re-apply for their visas, Dad because he got a new passport, and Steven because we suddenly remembered that while he’d updated the passport number on his application, he never updated the photo of his passport. As of now, their visas are still awaiting approval.
But you know what? If they don’t come through, this time I think I’ll just go without them, lol.
I really am not upset at them anymore. They both were extremely apologetic to me and covered the financial costs of the ticket switches. But if you are considering traveling overseas, let this be a lesson to you to plan WAY in advance. Apply for everything ahead of time, so that if you run into issues you have time to fix them. Look up all the requirements for entering the country. Double-check everything. Make sure you know exactly where your passport is, and when it expires. In fact, if you don’t have a passport right now you should immediately go apply for one, just in case you ever need it. I updated mine last November even though I had no travel plans at the time, and I’m so thankful I did.
Anyway. Hopefully we will all fly to Kenya on Tuesday, and meanwhile I’m just over here sipping my grape tea, trying to be chill.