We stepped out of the airplane into tropical air and it was so hot I burst out laughing. It was 31 degrees at 2am and thick with moisture. So hot, so humid, the air itself was alive. I just kept giggling. 6 months, eh? My backpack appeared, top-bit partly detached, but contents held in by my Goretex hat, of all things. Nothing seemed to be gone.
I looked out into the waiting room. There was a lanky, almost skinny guy with an MSF t-shirt. He was tanned and sweaty and unshaven just like he was supposed to be. He had clearly figured out who I was and looked sleepy in his flip flops. I liked him instantly.
“C’est moi, Courtney. Merci d’avoir venu!” (“Courtney, it’s me. Thank you for coming!”) I extended my hand. I really was touched that someone from the team had actually bothered to come get me in the middle of the night.
We went out to the van. OK, I’m sorry, but I can’t express how exciting it was to get into the MSF van. I was beginning to feel like I was on a real mission (how embarrassing is that, like a med student with her first stethoscope).
We arrived at the compound, with its decorative doors.
Fabien showed me to a room. Double bed with mosquito net. Desk. More than I’d expected. Then he turned on the air conditioner. Definitely more than I’d been expecting.
He left. Too excited to sleep and thinking of my three-day-squished crinkled clothes, I set about making the room my own.