Notes from an Airport


JOMO KENYATTA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, NAIROBI, KENYA
But then: another one of those airports, like Newark, where you can’t let your guard down or trust anything that anyone tells you. A place where you have to snap out of it. Nothing will be easy here. East African Safari? Right over there in the waiting tent, sir; a representative will come and collect you and the other passengers. A representative? No, you have to go through immigration. Transit? Twenty dollars please. East African Safari is in the Cargo Terminal, reachable via shuttle bus—that shuttle bus. No, it’s in the domestic terminal, which is now the international terminal because the airport burned down on Wednesday. Or possibly it’s the cargo terminal that’s now the domestic terminal, which means the international terminal would be—

It isn’t an exaggeration to say that it took several hours to disentangle all of this, although this is to be expected, since the airport—the third busiest in Africa by passenger volume. Like, imagine JFK burning down and you’ll get an idea of how major this is—had in fact been reduced to a charred hunk of ’60s brutalist concrete the previous Wednesday. And what a field day the conspiracy theorists are having! “I DIDN’T BURN AIRPORT, SAYS PARETTI,” trumpeted possibly the greatest newspaper headline I’ve ever seen; “BLAZE CATASTROPHE,” read another, elegantly.

Blogger Armin Rosen has a fascinating post about visiting nine airports in the Middle East and Africa, describing his experiences at each one of them. I mostly fly out of JFK and in my experience, it takes forever to get through JetBlue’s security screening at Terminal 5, and is less of a pain if say, you are flying on Virgin America and going through Terminal 4. I’ve also haven’t had many problems flying out of LAX. Haven’t yet flown out of charred airport yet.

Photo: Shankar S.

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