Jacques the taxi driver arrived at midnight on the dot, as arranged. He had to change a tyre on the way, in the middle of no where. I held his mobile phone in leu of a torch. When we got to the city of Douala the road was dreadful; full of potholes, craters and terribly uneven. Because of this we often had to drive on the wrong side of the road to avoid this, which was quite alarming when huge buses appeared to be driving straight towards you with their headlights blazing.
Got to the airport at 1.40. Jacques phoned the travel agent who was going to come with a better ticket (you couldn't read mine) but he said everything was okay and didn't need to come. I felt quite worried at the airport and Jacques said he would stay with me til check in, but he didn't, he slipped off into the night. I thought he was around, but he wasn't. I felt quite alone.
The airport appeared as if it was designed in the late 1960s, all brown and drab and dirty. When I went to the toilet it was quite terrifying as I discovered two wizened old women who appeared to be wrapped in bedsheets and were cackling like banshees or old witches. Later, as I was waiting on the hard plastic chairs, one of them sidled up to me and started cackling in my ear, which I studiously ignored, but was very, very worried...
At 3.10pm queued to check in my luggage. Was anxious as my ticket was illegible and was concerned I would be turned away. After much scrutiny was allowed to check in, thank the Lord. Whilst in the queue I observed a woman frantically sorting through her luggage as though she had forgotten something. She lifted a flimsy carrier bag out of her luggage and a load of mud-covered potatoes rolled around the floor. I couldn't believe my eyes! That she was taking a load of POTATOES and a few other vegetables (non-identified) on a plane!!!
There was absolutely NO indication anywhere as to where you had to go. There were monitors above the check-in but they were not on. I kept having to ask people where to go next. A man directed me down a long, dingy corridor to a funny little booth where a grumpy old hag took my exit tax money. She was so horrible and angry!
Eventually an immigration woman in uniform spent ages looking at my passport, handing it back to me and then demanding it back again. This happened about 3 times and she was really, really scary and very angry. She also made me fill out an immigration form, half of which I did not understand so left blank, but that didn't seem to bother her. She was so rude! Eventually I was gestered to go through x-ray wherupon I came across a sleeping man in uniform. He was so sound asleep I couldn't wake him up so looked to the woman for help and she angrily waved me through. So I tiptoed through the x-ray only to set it off. I guiltily looked around, expecting people to spring from nowhere and arrest me, but no one came. I went through to another empty dimly-lit corridor where a cleaner pointed me in the right direction for the gate.
Then another search, another passport and visa check, then I had to spend over an hour in a freezing, uncomfortable departure lounge. It was so very cold do to the air conditioning. I was so cold my teeth were chattering uncontrollably by the end of it. I smiled at a waiting passenger but she just scowled at me in an evil way. I couldn't wait to get on the plane!
I was so relieved when we eventually boarded the plane. At first it was a bit nerve-wracking as they lead us out of the departure lounge the wrong way, the way we had come in and I thought that the flight had been cancelled. It was so much warmer in the plane and I was able to sleep quite well, snugly wrapped up in an airline blanket. Bliss...
After around 6 hours we landed at Casablanca airport for 2 hours. A man directed me to a wonderful airport hotel which was actually inside the airport. There I was able to use a nice clean toilet and to email Dad to say I was on my way.
Met a nice lady on the way home on the plane. She was flying back to London after visiting her brother in Morocco. It was very sad as her sister-in-law had recently died from an asthma attack, leaving her brother with 3 children, including a year-old baby. The lady was hoping to adopt the baby and her heart was broken after having to leave the children behind.
After circling Heathrow for about half an hour to my relief we eventually landed, somewhat shakily. I was so relieved to collect my two bags (last week Liesbet didn't get her bag for about 3 days) and the first person I saw when I came through was dear Martin, ready to capture the historic moment with his camera phone. And one of the first things I did was to have sausage, beans and chips on the way home, which I ate alongside my worming tablets.
HOME SWEET HOME
It was such a relief to at last be home, something I had been dreaming about. It felt as though I had been away for a year and it was so wonderful to see my three beautiful pussy cats - Binky, Kitty and Lilly. Binky snuggled under the duvet three times that night...