It was mid-July in 2017. The exact dates are still blurry as I have spent most of my time in the clouds, both literally and figuratively. I flew with Ethiopian Airlines which is the Toyota of airlines: very reliable and gets you where you need to go on time, but don’t expect to stretch your legs too far or catch a good night’s sleep. I wouldn’t be complaining either if it wasn’t for the long layovers in Addis-Ababa at Bore International Airport. You can already tell that this is an airport that was going through extensive transformation. One reviewer online( mentioned that “it has the appearance of an overcrowded train station where no one really knows what is happening” and that is as close to how my impression as you can get.
The terminal with destinations to eastern and southern African countries was so crowded there was barely any place to stand, let alone seat. I saw a close-off that seemed to be under construction and when finished, [it should provide ample space and a modern airport facility for up to 22 million people](https://www.africanexponent.com/post/9459-ethiopia-upgrades-bole-international-airport-to-22-million-passenger-capacity) .
Until that happens, I am better off paying a little more with another airline and fly comfortably when returning back home. In between the chaos of navigating this airport, I was tired, exhausted, and sleep deprived. I spent the better half of fifteen hours on a cramped airplane seat, but I was determined to make it home no matter the temporary soreness and insomnia.
The flight from Addis-Ababa to Kigali was the shortest in time but felt the longest. I remember the last time I was in Kigali. I don’t think I ever properly said goodbye because being the ever-so-prudent traveler that I am, I was rushing to go through customs to be at the terminal gate two hours early. The last time I was in Kigali I waved them goodbye as I ascended on the escalator to the main terminal waiting area. If there were hugs, I don’t remember them. It almost felt like both me and them had many unanswered questions of what was to become of my future. There was a silent goodbye from my father’s eyes. It is as if he was telling me “good luck son and make me proud” but I could see his worry and sadness. The last time I was in Kigali I was seven years younger… and that was the last time I saw my father alive.
Today, as we descended into Kigali International Airport, first came a silhouette of emotions that washed over me then came an inexplicable calm and inner peace. It was as almost I could smell the air from inside the cabin looking at the familiar clouds and lush green hills. I felt like I was finally home. The airport hasn’t changed much and it felt manageable and welcoming compared to the craziness that were Paris and Addis-Ababa’s. There are no words to describe the feeling of seeing my mother right there and then. It all seemed surreal for both of us.
One day, I am on WhatsApp sending status updates on my journey from Seattle to my family in Rwanda and the next day I am standing right in front of their eyes. Modern technology, with all this ills , has had an immeasurable. Our embrace felt real and deep this time, like a second chance allowing me to free my nostalgia and emotions from the last time I was in Kigali. As tears started to stream down my eyes and a second wave of chills took over me, I realized that this was the moment that came seven years too late. But I was there and I was going to make the best of it.