The Great Congolese Caper - Day 2 - Paris, France

Posted in Family , OldBlog with tags Mireille -

Paris - Charles De Gaul Airport

I landed around 8:00 local time in Charles De Gaul Airport outside of Paris, France. For my first trip to France, it was a little underwhelming. I suppose it’s true what they say that you don’t really visit a country when you visit the airport…

After disembarking my flight, I followed the hallways and signage to where my next flight was taking off, Terminal 2E the K gates (I think). I bought the AT&T Passport plan before taking off, which allows for free text messaging and reduced call rates via cell phone, so I attempted to text Jenny to let her know that I landed. While my texts successfully went through eventually, Jenny was unable to text me back due to some complications with switching between iMessage and SMS texting. This is something I need to take up with Apple at some point, because it took us four days to finally figure it out. For those that might suffer the same issue, you have to turn off iMessage on your sending phone, then remove any text conversations that are on the phone, then send a new text message to the phone number and not the e-mail address… What a pain!

A quick train ride, which was packed, and I was at the next terminal where I finally encountered a security line. I was actually a little surprised at how little security was apparent until this point. I was freely moving about the airport despite having just arrived from the US. For all they know, I could have been infected with the measles!!! Anyway, French security was actually very courteous. I didn’t even have to take off my shoes. I was stopped and searched, however, because I had two bottles of water in my backpack. Stupid me, I didn’t figure I would have any water once I got to the hotel room in Kinshasa, and wanted to make sure I had enough to get me through to the morning when my guide would take me shopping. Despite the fact that you can keep your shoes on through security, they still don’t allow liquids through the checkpoint, and I had to relinquish my $10 worth of water purchased in Milwaukee.

After getting back together, I stopped by a French sundries shop to get a new water (for $6) to satisfy my worries about the upcoming 24 hours or so. It was interesting that, while everything was clearly primarily in French, it seemed that everybody spoke some amount of English, which was good because my French is atrocious (read, non-existent). In line I encountered a couple of very tall, beautiful girls that were very upset at how the French don’t have proper jam…

Finally at my gate about 90 minutes early, I took off my shoes and relaxed a bit. As expected, I was one of the only white faces in the crowd. Of all of the people there, I was also clearly the most poorly dressed. I don’t know what sort of business people do, but it seems clear that there are many business people that travel between Paris and Kinshasa, many of which wear full suits, or at least proper business attire - even on a Sunday morning.

Written by Brandon Grady
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