The Weaponized Miniature Tripod

Well, I finally made it. I've lost count how many hours in a row I've been awake but it's well over twenty four. It takes a long time to get to Africa, particularly central Africa.

I'm please to report that there were no serious delays, no mechanical breakdowns, no lost luggage. It was boring in every respect and that's a really good thing. Oh I met some interesting people (and received an impromptu gift), but the travel itself was without incident. I praise God for his providential care and thank God's people for praying for me. This wasn't just coincidence. This was God acting on the prayers of his people, and I want everyone to know that I'm very thankful.

While it didn't delay my flight, one event amused me greatly. If I hadn't been so entertained by the whole thing, I'd have been really ticked off! I flew from Washington to Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Airlines without problem. Carry-on luggage was inspected and I went through security without a hitch. The Addis Ababa airport, however, is always an experience to the standards of … well, everything (at least it has been the two times I've been there!). Unlike other airports where you move from one plane to another without having to sweat out the security line again, Addis Ababa makes you go through security for each gate. In other words, if there are five gates, there are five security check-points, each with their own set of standards (evidently).

You've heard stories about nail clippers and knitting needles being confiscated? I can do you one better: Behold the Weaponized Miniature Tripod!!!

I sent my Scottevest through the X-ray without problem. I would have thought with all the paraphernalia I was carrying, this would have been a sure hit. Nope. No problem. Then my carry-on luggage with all the medicine for the clinic was scanned. Again, no one blinked. But when my laptop backpack went through, I was pulled to the side. The tripod peaked their interest.

Evidently the woman doing the screening had never seen such a contraption. I had to explain, through a copious use of hand gestures and sounds, exactly what it was. But when I showed how the legs extended telescopically, that was all she wrote. I was made to sit at the "special" desk and wait for someone who could make a decision to arrive. 

So I sat…and sat…and sat…, while the "good" children filed past giving me curious looks. When I asked how long it would be, I was told I wouldn't miss my flight, but he was "busy." I suspect there was a troublesome camera lens and suspicious looking flash memory card that was occupying his time. When the security expert (expert defined here as someone who knows what a tripod is) arrived, he didn't even speak. He got within about ten paces, listened to the screener breathlessly describe the threat potential, chuckled and waved his hand for me to go. Whew, that was a close call!

In other news, Africa evidently doesn't understand other common concepts either, like "reservation." Yep, just like my last visit, the hotel I booked didn't hold my room. Fortunately, Flory (my pastor friend here in Burundi) had the foresight to check with the hotel yesterday and was able to quick procure another room.

And everything has worked out well. This room is nice enough. The bed is a slab of concrete but the internet is surprisingly quick, so that seems like a fair exchange to me. There is also a possessed lamp that randomly turns on and off, changing the brightness of the three-way bulb for no apparent reason. The only off switch that works is unplugging it. But this is just kvetching. 

Tomorrow is a day of badly needed rest. I hope to see the spot where (allegedly) Stanley met Livingston. On Friday I begin a rigorous schedule of teaching and preaching. Thank you for your prayers. Keep checking back for more progress reports.