London Interlude

London’s Heathrow was long reputed the world’s busiest airport. Our landing there came after one intermediate stop in Iceland where no one deplaned except those wishing to stay.

We had earlier assumed that, once in London, we would freshen up, take a few steps to a departure lounge and wait for our next flight. The one taking us to Kenya.

This was not to be.

“Sir. Madame. May I please see your passports?”

It was our first hint at anything askew. Moments later the agent resumed.

“We need to keep these for a bit”, he said, lifting our precious navy blue, eagle-embossed documents. “We are checking over some irregularities.”


“The travel company your organization elected to use has possibly violated some air travel rulings. We’ve been cooperating with a precautionary investigation.”

“Oh. . . Hm, when, sir, may we have our documents returned?” I found myself wanting to mimic the British accent with its (to my American ears) officious tone. His response was crisp but courteous. “We shall be back with you shortly.”

The agent moved around a counter and out of sight. The mild anxiety Ann and I had managed to suppress until now bumped a degree.

I voiced an assuring comment to my bride in the hope it carried a tone of robust conviction. “I’m sure everything’s fine, Honey.” A more useful thought came to mind. We prayed.

In a few minutes, to our relief, the passports were back in our hands. “Thank you, Lord.”

I began gathering up our roughly two hundred pounds of assorted luggage, including a typewriter and guitar.

While it was true we had been informed by our Mission a day before our departure about an important travel detail, it had come in a near casual way and I had nearly forgotten the detail until now. . . While we had flown in to London’s Heathrow Airport we would depart the city from another airport. Gatwick. Thankfully, I thought, our layover time should allow enough hours for us to make the transition.


Seeing the Gatwick sign just ahead I announced, “Here we are, Hon.”

“OK,” she said, “be sure to bring all the pieces. . . don’t leave the typewriter.”

As I helped my very expectant wife off the shuttle bus and began reaching for our baggage to enter the terminal, we both agreed the hour ride had been pleasant. We had rolled through quaint country-side past quaint communities with names sounding uncommon to Oklahoma or Montana ears. Egham. Chertsey. Weybridge.

I wonder what fanciful names we’ll find in Kenya? Plenty of them, no doubt.

For now, we knew Nairobi – the location to soon be displayed at our departure gate. A place we may learn to call another name still.


©2017 Jerry Lout



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