The flight and arrival
My travel was extremely long. I had 3 layovers and 4 long flights, over several time zones. On my longest flight I was super excited because I had a fantastic seat. There was lots of room, and it was a comfortable area. Imagine how disappointing it was, when, just a few minutes after I sat down, a very sweet older lady asked me to switch with her. Her seat was not in a good spot; people kept banging into it, and the seat was not comfortable. She just had knee surgery, and needed the extra space for her leg to stretch out. Ah! How could I possibly say no? So, I did not get any rest on that 10hr flight with the flight attendants constantly bumping into my screen and tripping over my foot.
I was thrilled when I arrived in Istanbul and found that they had an airport hotel that they rented by the hour! It was ridiculously expensive, but I had heard that upon arrival in the mission, we get to work as soon as we land. (This turned out to be true!) So it was worth the money I spent out of my own pocket. It really helped me to recover a bit from the jet lag too.
After my 3rd flight, I arrived in Djibouti. MSF arranged for me to spend one night in Djibouti at the MSF guesthouse. Although we share rooms, (4 to a room) it still was a nice opportunity to sleep off my remaining jet lag. I found this incredibly helpful before departing to the mission the next morning.
Finally I was on my final flight into Yemen. The airport in Yemen is closed to the public, and even though I knew this, it was really strange arriving into an empty airport. In a way, this actually relieved some of my stress because for some reason I was expecting a really busy airport where no one spoke English, and I was imagining not being able to find my way. Haha, thankfully it was nothing like I was expecting!
At the airport MSF staff, one of whom I recognized, greeted me. This also helped me to feel at ease. We drove from the airport straight to the house. The drive was interesting. It was a lot busier on the roads than I expected. It seemed like a regular city, although there were minor signs of the conflict, I would not have noticed unless it was pointed out to me. We aren’t allowed to take pictures in the city, and so unfortunately I could not get any pictures of all the beautiful buildings and architecture. It is so different from Canada.
Finally, I arrived in the mission. The cook had prepared lunch for us, and it was a huge assortment of things: Rice, salad and cucumber, potatoes, soup and more. Lunch is shared by both national and expat (international) staff and is served in the “house” dining room. During my lunch, I was assigned my room, and then I quickly dropped off my luggage, without unpacking. I went straight to the office, and briefings began immediately.