As I write this, we are finally relaxing in the Hotel where we had reservations. But it took a little bit to get here.
After traveling for around 36 hours we finally arrived in Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. We touched down at the tiny airport (there's only one runway, used for all traffic both arriving and departing) at 12:30 AM local time. Except for the poor souls working immigration and customs, the terminal was deserted. After quickly retrieving out bags (with only a few passangers it doesn't take long), we were greeted by Flory, loaded up a cab and headed off.
It was during the bumpy cab ride that Flory told us. I knew this was a possibility. In fact, we had purposely prayed that this wouldn't happen. But God in his mercy decided differently. Our hotel gave away our rooms. Yes we had reservations, yes we had an official letter to that effect, but none of that mattered. This is Africa and…well…these things happen. So instead of the Hotel Dorado (it's nice enough, but don't believe all the pictures), we spent the night at the Anglican Mission House.
When we arrived, the electricity was off. Rolling blackouts, especially at night, are an everyday occurance in much of Africa and Bujumbura is no exception. Still, the term "pitch black" takes on a special meaning as you try to navigate unfamiliar terrain. Two candles were quickly brought and placed at each end of the long hallway leading to our rooms. One candle each in our rooms also provided light.
In each of these rooms there was enough room to change your minds, but just barely. As we struggled with suitcases in the near total darkness, despite our weariness, we still kept our good humor. It was a little more difficult when we realized that Bonnie and my sleep apnea would be given "full voice" that night as our sleep machines were useless. It was at this point I began to experience full-fledged withdrawl from my electricity addiction.
The real shocker came when I heard Bonnie give out a screech. Without light in the bathroom she was caught off-guard to discover that the toliet didn't include a seat as standard equipment. Forgive me, but there are times when it's great to be a guy.
The next morning, after a restless night without electricity (hint: air-conditioning requires electricity), we were greeted with one more surprise. I confess, I can bear a lot of things with good grace, but I find it a real struggle to shower in cold water. Not that Bonnie likes it, of course. But I hate it.
Couple the lack of hot water with a shower head that had serious issues and my morning refreshment was slightly less enjoyable than bathing under a tree during a cold drizzle. My utter fallenness was made manifest when I took a subtle delight to learn that Liz hates cold showers as much as I do.
As Bonnie packed up our bags, I was able to scrounge up some really excellent coffee. The coffee here in central Africa is a special treat. And this morning, bleary-eyed and just a titch on the cranky side, it was especially so.
Evidently Flory had been working with the Hotel Dorado to procure the rooms we had been promised, for our next cab ride ended at the front steps of said inn. As should be expected, I suppose, such agreeableness (i.e. providing us with the rooms we had been promised) came at a cost. Liz's room would still be $50 per day, but Bonnie's and my room was now $70 a day instead of the $50 quoted on our reservation. This new price would mean an additional $240 of unbudgeted monies out of the general fund.
While I didn't exactly lose my sanctification, I confess that I was somewhat disagreeable in the face of this new revelation. After about 30 minutes of rangeling, a compromise of $60 per day was agreed upon. I still feel cheated, but, considering the alternative, this is the best we could do.
The day is nearly done. As I reflect on the events of the past two days, I'm grateful to God that we all have this opportunity to minister here in Bujumbura. The minor annoyances we've encountered (and they really are minor comparatively) are not worthy to be compared to the priviledge we have to instruct and encourage God's people here, even as we are encouraged by them, so that together we will be refreshed.
Now if the electricity will only stay on long enough for me to upload this post…