We saw Daniel off last night at Larnaka airport. Why? Well the story starts here - yes, only two and a half weeks ago, when he first heard that it was possible for him to join the Doulos ship in Tanzania.
In case the title misleads anyone, I'm not rejoicing to see him go for my sake. We're going to miss him in the next two months. But with such a short time-frame and so many unknowns, I'm delighted and relieved that it's all worked out so well, and that he's finally there.
I don't know how he felt but as well as being sad to see him go, it was pretty scary for me when we finally had to say goodbye! He had a voucher for a hotel in Dubai, and knew that his luggage would be going through so he wouldn't have to collect and re-check it. But his new backpack was beginning to tear slightly at the straps. On the plus side, we had some excellent ice creams at the airport before he left. They were clones of Cornettos, but actually very much nicer. I wish I'd taken note of their name.
Daniel's main luggage weighed 19kg and his backpack 8kg. That's fine as far as the airline is concerned, but his email from the Doulos said he should take a maximum of 20kg. I thought that was just a reminder about most airlines' regulations within Europe and Africa for checked-in luggage, but he thought it was the total he was supposed to take. I'm not sure how he could have got away with much less, though. He had to take four pairs of shoes in addition to the ones he was wearing, for instance! One pair of sandals, a spare pair of trainers, a 'smart' pair of shoes, and another pair to be put in a lifeboat. He needed a full set of clothes for the lifeboat (sensible, but extra weight), plus everyday clothes for about a week including long trousers for evenings (to avoid mosquitoes), and also some dress trousers with a belt and a long-sleeved button-up shirt. Apparently some African churches expect people to dress up in the way some British churches did 50 years ago.
Then he had to take a towel, and a mug, and a Bible and a camera... and of course his clarinet, which goes with him everywhere.
Anyway, that was yesterday afternoon. In the evening Richard discovered that a friend of his from Egypt was also going to be in Dubai airport overnight, on his way to Yemen. So he sent Dan a text, and his friend Dan's mobile number, thinking they might like to have coffee together.
Both the boys refuse to use text language or txtspk or whatever it's called. However Dan amused us by texting a message in telegram language, which started:
ARRIVED DUBAI STOP HOTEL GOOD STOP
Neither of us slept much; I suppose we were both worried he might fall asleep and miss the second flight (what an over-protective mother I am!) so since we were awake at 5am our time, Richard sent a text asking if he was awake. He had an immediate reply saying he was talking to Richard's Egyptian friend at the airport. So we knew he'd get on the flight to Tanzania.
The flight was due to arrive at 2.30pm so we thought we might hear from him about an hour or so later than that. But we didn't. I actually started worrying less, the longer it got; my father brought us up to believe that 'no news is good news' Richard sent a text and even tried phoning, but Dan's phone wasn't switched on. I thought that if he had been having problems, he'd have turned it on to call the people who were there to meet him, and if he'd been refused entry he'd have let us know.
Eventually at about 5.45pm we had a brief text from him saying that yes, he's in. What a great relief. A lot of people have been praying. A second text said it took two hours to get the visa - we don't know if that means he had to queue that long or if it was a complicated process.
Anything more about Dan's trip will be on his Doulos blog, which I can update if he sends emails or texts. Or he may get Internet access himself when the ship is in port.
I hope I'll sleep better tonight now!