On the day that my shower in Kigali did not provide hot water, my hosts exclaimed, “TIA!” Another time, hanging out with a few American friends at Torrero (an expat tapas bar in the center of town), our waiter brought out the wrong order, and one of the girls sighed, “TIA.” This is an expression I have heard time and again whenever something does not work perfectly – TIA – This is Africa!
It wasn’t until I returned to the states about a week ago for a brief hiatus for my best friend’s wedding that I gained an appreciation for the true meaning of TIA.
After disembarking from another smooth and comfortable twenty-four hour journey on Ethiopian Airlines on which I experienced excellent customer service and copious amounts of food, I was greeted by long lines at US passport control and an hour wait for my luggage. Excited to return home after traveling for so long, I learned that I would need to wait another hour for the Super Shuttle to depart and then I would need to travel through all of Washington, DC to drop off the other passengers before reaching my home.
Finally, I returned to my Adams Morgan apartment, only to find that my internet was down and my cell phone no longer worked. Running errands, I would receive my first and most painful mosquito bites of the summer. Good to be home.
Not that all was bad on the homefront. It was great to see my boyfriend, who on Friday finally took his boards and is now somewhat human again (congrats Zach!); I loved spending some time with my friends and family; and ok, the air conditioning is pretty sweet. And of course, Jeremy and Teen’s wedding was the highlight of the trip and I am so happy and thankful that I got to celebrate their special day.
It was the “after-party,” however, that demonstrated the true meaning of TIA. After the wedding, going on one hour of sleep, I headed off to the Philadelphia airport at 4am to catch my 6am flight to DC which would then be followed by my Ethiopian Airlines flights to Addis and finally Kigali. I paid my cab driver $30 for the ten-minute ride (why doesn’t Philly have moto-taxis?), forked over $15 to check my bag, and went to wait by my gate.
I was drifting in and out of sleep when a United Airlines employee announced that there was a mechanical problem with our plane so we would be leaving 40 minutes late. Not a problem; I had a three-hour cushion in between my flights once I arrived in DC. Forty minutes came and went. Lots of announcements, lots of delays, but no boarding. My friend Amy called to say one last goodbye.
“Yeah, we’re delayed, but it should be fine. Thanks for calling. See you in August!”
Little did I know that five minutes later, I would hear a new announcement, “United Flight 7891 has been canceled. You can pick up your bags at baggage check.”
For most people on the flight, this cancelation would mean that they would have to get a later flight that day to DC or their final destination. For me, that meant I would not be going to Rwanda that day, nor the next day, nor the next day…
Many tears, phone calls, and fights later, I have a new flight booked from DC on Friday. I will (inshallah) arrive in Kigali on Saturday, July 4th, hopefully in time to celebrate Rwanda’s Liberation Day. In the meantime, I am headed to Survivor Corps’ DC office to work on a project so that I’m not wasting a full week.
Long story short, TIA will forever hold a new meaning for me… This is America.
Posted By Lisa Rogoff
Posted Jul 1st, 2009