Now, one would think that after travelling previously, I would have packing down to a fine art. Oh no, that is/was not the case. Firstly I had to move out of my house in Galway city, a feat that took two and a half car loads, the best part of a day and some ruthless disposing of clothes by my sister. Then came the trauma of packing my life away for a year. Add to that the cultural restrictions in Malawi (covering your knees and shoulders), the fact that it would be winter when I was arriving and the evenings would be very cold AND the summer would be very hot, humid and wet, trying to pack for working professionally and for socialising proved more difficult than I initially thought. The trauma of packing was further exasperated by the fact that I was getting conflicting information about my baggage allowance. One person was saying one bag of 23kg, another was saying two bags of 23kg and no-one could say 100% what I would be allowed when I got to Dublin Airport.
In the end when I arrived at Dublin it seems I could have checked as many bags as I would have liked and so my paltry 32kg in 2 checked bags seemed totally inadequate for what I was headed for.
Anyway after one last fry and abandoning my poor mother in tears at security I once again set off.
I flew Dublin – Frankfurt where I had a 6 hour stopover which I passed drinking German beer, eating frankfurters and discovering that terminal 2 in Frankfurt Airport has terrible duty free!
Next up was my 10 hour flight to Johannesburg.
And then a two and a half hour flight to Lilongwe (the capital of Malawi). Bonus of this flight was that I was upgraded. However, all this meant was I had a slightly bigger seat and got some free newspapers and a posh-er dinner. Now if only I had been upgraded on my long haul flight, one can but dream.
At this point it had been 24 hours since I left Dublin, 30 since I left home in Galway and it would be another 5 hours until I arrived in Mzuzu! Arriving at the airport was a bit of a shock, for anyone who has travelled through a regional airport in Ireland, that is what it was like. Small airport in a field and one luggage carousel. At that point I met the lovely Sara from the states who would be starting in Mzuni at the same time as me. From here we travelled with a delightful, devout Christian taxi driver called Gift towards Mzuzu. Five hours later and not one single toilet break, me and Sara dash out of the car, say hi to our new colleagues and make a bee-line for the toilet.
After we remembered our manners we were introduced to the Dean of Health Sciences and finally got to meet the other members of our team who (Elaine aside) I had only ever spoken to via email.