When journeys don’t go to plan: lessons in Swahili, patience, and fun.

Last week I travelled to Dar es Salaam for a two-week workshop about academic writing. There is now an airline that flies to our little dirt airstrip in Musoma, so my colleague and I thought we might give it a go.

Not everything went according to plan, but I learnt a lot and had a (mostly) fun adventure in the process…

A month or so before the trip…
we successfully booked a return flight from Musoma to Dar to leave on a Sunday.

However, a couple of weeks later…
we saw on the airline website that Sunday flights no longer existed … We were pleased though, to see that on our booking, it looked like the airline planned to move our flights to the Saturday.

However, a week and a half before travelling…
our booking no longer showed any outgoing flight at all, but only our return flight for after the trip.

My colleague was able to get her ticket rebooked that same day over the ‘phone, but I was unsuccessful.

Almost every day for a week I called the airline, sent them emails, and visited the little office in town.

On Thursday, two days before leaving …
My colleague and I visited the little office for a couple of hours in the morning, and then returned again for four hours in the afternoon, and at 6pm … I got my ticket!! We were both booked on a flight to leave 4.30pm on Saturday (in less than 48 hours).

I was very thankful for my colleague who sat with me for most of the day, offering moral support and encouragement. I was rather impressed with myself that I even managed to get a little assertive in Swahili!

I was also thankful to the man in the office, who called the airline’s main office over 20 times that day, as well as sending many emails, and stayed at work much later than usual to print my ticket.


The office in town where we spent the day, and the helpful man still on the ‘phone.


On Saturday …
I received a call at noon from a colleague, saying that he had met the man from the office in town, who had told him that the flight was already delayed. Therefore the airline would arrange transport for us to go to Mwanza (a town a few hours away) to catch the flight from there. (Since our little airstrip is not lit, ‘planes cannot land there once it starts to get dark). The bus was due to leave the airport at 3pm.

At 2.30pm I heard the bus would leave at 4.45pm instead.

The bus left the airport at 5.10 pm – hoorah! We are on our way!


On our way!


It seemed rather apt that our transport (a “daladala”) had “Compromise” pasted across the windscreen!

However, we were delayed a little while by the side of the road whilst a problem with the wheel was fixed:


Praise God it was fixed in less than an hour!

We arrived in Mwanza after a few hours, about 10pm. Before going to the airport, the airline representative apologised for the delay, and kindly provided us with a meal (we were a little perplexed, but thankful for sustenance!):


Our “in-flight” meal.

We made it to the airport by 10.30pm and got our tickets!



After only 10 minutes in the airport, we made it onto the (almost empty!) ‘plane, and took off from Mwanza just after 11pm. Hoorah!


There were only 11 passengers on this flight … it felt rather bizarre!

We made it to Dar, 1.23am on Sunday morning – Praise God!


Although this was 6 hours later than we had anticipated arriving that day, it was in fact 18 hours before our original plan of arrival (when we had planned to fly on Sunday instead)!

So, although not many things went to plan on this journey, I gained helpful practice in Swahili, enjoyed getting to know a colleague better, and experienced some amusing adventures together. It was also a good lesson in patience, trusting God for provision and safety, and being able to find fun in almost any situation.

However, I do hope our return journey next weekend is not quite so eventful!