30 hrs

Hi all, Carly writing 🙂

We have all arrived safely in Kenya and it’s safe to say I have never been so thankful to have my feet on flat ground. However, traveling provided us with some great coffee, memories, and friends. We took two different routes both amassing to 30 hours – Sierra and Ariel together from California and Carly from Colorado. Here are some tidbits from my travel.

Colorado –> Washington DC. –> Addis Ababa, Ethiopia –> Nairobi, Kenya

I left on the 10th from Denver International Airport and took, what I would now deem, a short flight to Dulles arriving at 1am. I spent the next ten hours there snuggling my backpack underneath an airport bench, wandering and drinking chai to stay awake. At 11am I boarded my plane to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. As soon as I sat down in my bright green seat my heart started to race with excitement – and possibly adrenaline from the airplane music, which I can only describe as some sort of Ethiopian trap music. I was soon greeted by Aldo an american man with a three foot long dreaded beard with whom I shared my row. During the 13 hour flight I ate 3 meals, filled 6 pages in my journal/sketchbook, watched 3 movies, and paced the aisle 20+ times.

For the first five hours everyone is quiet yet restless, but as the time passes there is a growing feeling of community – as if everyone is thinking “we are all (stuck) in this together”. After two movies people began to chat with those around them and sleep on the shoulders of their loved ones. I saw offers of snacks, towelettes and extra pillows. The baby a row in front of me grabbed my toes and played with Aldo’s beard. The flight attendant washed her arms, put on a fresh coat of lipstick and offered me some lotion when I paced by. The sense of mutual understanding grew throughout the hours and fell over me like a thick warm blanket – or maybe that was the melatonin.

When dinner came the plane fell into a blissful silence with only the crackling of wrappers to be heard. I had not eaten on a plane since I was too young to remember and proceeded to take pictures of all my meals like a true newb.


When I arrived in Ethiopia I had to run – yes actually run – to my Nairobi flight. I was on board just a short 15 minutes later and in an hour and a half had landed in Kenya. I sat next to a young woman from Somalia who was going to school in Sweden. By the end of the flight we were laughing so hard people were staring. She and I then tackled customs together and said our goodbyes. When I left the airport I was greeted by Chacha (Utena’s Deputy Director) and Jonathan (Utena’s Director) and a sign with my name and two hours later we waited in the same place to be reunited with Ariel and Sierra!


–Carly Paul


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