An audio and video podcast of my trip hitchhiking around the world by sea.
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Prince, Pauper, and Apprentice

With a pocket full of Malarone (anti-malaria pills), I boarded the red eye flight from Newark to Zurich. Remember how I mentioned the life lesson concerning knowing a flight attendant, well it was proving all too true. It seems there was an opening in business class and as a standby passenger I just happened to be eligible. In case you need clarification, “business class” is the area where the seats more closely resemble thrones. It’s the leather armchair section of a plane where traffic always slows as passengers pause to dream like Charlie in a chocolate factory before being shooed back to their rightful seats in “coach.”

Well today instead of just passing through I actually stopped, sat and sank in to the pillowy body chair. I did as every true “business” passenger would do, opened my NY Times, educated myself, and tried not to notice the envy of those passing by. When I bored of the news I opened the menu and studied my gourmet options over a glass of sparkling wine. Then just as I was narrowing my dinner choices I noticed a man in a devil red coat standing over me,  “Excuse me sire…I’m afraid you’re not dressed appropriately for this class. You’ll have to take a seat in the back…”

So from prince to pauper, I tucked my tail and walked to 24-A looking only at the floor or seat numbers so as not to catch the judgmental eyes of those who moments ago seemed SO inferior. I was at least lucky enough to spend the next 7 hours with the seat next to me empty. Also fortunate is the fact that I’ve never had any problem sleeping on a plane so at least I could dream about those seats up front until I arrived to Switzerland.

24 hours is not much of a layover but it’s plenty of time to meet some characters. After dropping the bags off at a hotel, flight attendant friend-Mandi and I decided we would catch a bus down to the lake in search of a nice European park. As the say, great minds think alike. We hadn’t been in Europe more than 4 hours before I found my next blog entry, or should I say before he found me.

Olive skin, beard, beret , and a barely used walker. He approached Mandi and I. I couldn’t help but make eye contact and smile. “We are such beautiful people…So beautiful…” He said directly to me (Mandi staring forward). I couldn’t agree more, so I smile and nod. “We ought to live on Mars, we are much too beautiful for this world. This world is so ugly, we don’t belong here.” No, no we don’t-I agreed, speechless.

The bus approached and we all piled on. “Where should we sit?” he asked. “Over here,” I lead to three open seats. He continued. “The bus is having babies,” he said under his breath as a mere observation. This was getting good. I glance back, “Yes it is.” I smile. “We should go to an island, me, my wife, you, your friend…I will be the guru. We will live beautifully.” That’s where I had to object. “You will be guru? Why can’t I be the guru, I’m a smart guy?” “No, no. I must be guru. You will be my apprentice until I pass and then you will become the guru.”

We continued all the way to the lake, much to the amusement of Swiss surrounding us. Unfortunately, I had to graciously decline his offer to visit his house, considering our time schedule. Instead we bid him farewell and continued to that grassy bank on a Swiss lake where I slept to the sounds of birds and German accents. Not much to report on really, in a 24-hour layover. A slight stroll, few hours rest, and back to the airport where my Kenya bound coach awaited.

No worries, this time I knew right where I belonged. Once my ticket was scanned I headed right for the back of the plane. Although it was only a matter of minutes at the start of my previous flight, it was enough to know the mind. To connect. So I started a conversation with a man and woman in colorful headdress on my through. Barack had just defeated Hilary. Assuming they were from Kenya I mentioned the fact that Barack won and sought verification that Barack’s father was from Kenya.

Long story short, not only had I made a couple of friends by the time I reached my “coach” seat, I also had the business card “His Worship the Mayor-Sam Okello”. A card and I had an appointment, with my new friend the Mayor of Kisumu-a town I will be visiting later in my trip. Africa…here I come.


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