Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Enkuto Eratukura #1: Running for Departures

A focused approach to packing is the foundation of a good trip.
Wednesday 1st April 2015 - 9.30pm

Having Parents’ Evening for the toughest year group isn’t the ideal preparation for flying out anywhere let alone Uganda. Only my relative experience in making this journey allowed me to be as calm as I was.

At 6.05pm I finished talking to the last parent only for my lift, a science teacher at my new workplace, to get drawn into discussion with another parent. I took this opportunity to change out of my work clothes and pack her car ready for the trip to the airport.

By 6.15pm we were on the road and making moderate progress over the Hammersmith flyover and through the west London evening traffic. As a newcomer to Fulham Cross, it was nice talking to a member of staff who’d been there for twenty or so years. Having just switched workplace, twenty years’ service seems a long way off, and a rather unrealistic target.

The rest of the group had gone through the check-in procedure by the time that I arrived at Heathrow and check-in was closing within the hour. Give or take the ‘streamlining’ of Terminal 2, whereby you do most of the work yourself – printing baggage labels and scanning passports – before you queue up and someone sends your bags off to the plane, the process was smooth, if a little edgy time-wise.

I finally caught up with the group near the gate after spotting the golden glint of Jen’s hair. They’d all had the time to eat and amble through the duty free; I arrived at the gate a little flustered, out of breath and hungry, having had just enough time to purchase two Fantas, a new Moleskine notebook and a packet of crisps.

The group were all there; familiar faces and newer ones. Former students of mine: Khadija, Amal and Suweyda; new William Morris students: Abirna, Sina, Idil, Huda, Hannah and Molly. Making up the staff contingent were: Tash, Jas, Jen, Raman, Fabio, Tamera and friend of [the All Our Children chairperson] Liz’s called Sarah.

Getting to the airport on time for the 9pm flight was a job in itself, but having successfully got this far the enkuto eratukura or ‘red roads’ of Uganda seemed so much closer.

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