"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Kenya Journals, Ch. 2: Falling Prey in Frankfurt

Perhaps the world’s second-worst crime is boredom; the first is being a bore.—Cecil Beaton

Chapter TWO
Falling Prey in Frankfurt

I have discovered how to negotiate large airport terminals:   ask questions frequently.   Like, about every hundred feet, around every corner, on each level, until someone takes pity on an old gray-haired woman and walks you to your destination.   Sometimes that person will carry your luggage, too.   Gray hair rocks!

It works.   It works in the immense air terminal in Frankfurt, Germany, which is how I find myself in the right place, but way too early.   Terminal 1, Level 1, where the hotel courtesy shuttles pick up their guests.

I use a courtesy phone to let the Holiday Inn Express know I am there, ready for pick-up.   Forty-five minutes, is the response, so I go back into the terminal and people-watch for a while until my imagination gets the best of me and drives me outside again.

I admit I am not street smart.   I haven’t had to be, considering where I grew up (Anchorage in the 1950s.) After that, I moved to smaller and smaller towns until I settled six miles out of a very small town.   Even after all my international travels, I remain decidedly unaware of potential traps and pitfalls.

So, on this day when I will overnight in Frankfurt and catch the next day’s flight to Nairobi, Kenya, I’m inside the terminal people-watching and what comes to mind but the guy from Alaska who recently shot up a terminal in Florida after getting his pistol and ammo out of his luggage.   I was thinking about how diabolically clever he was while I’m watching people enter the terminal.

I know there are terrorism problems in Europe.  I know there are terrorism problems in Kenya.    I know the person in the long coat who just came through the doors could be carrying an assault weapon.    Or the woman who is fully covered could be wearing a suicide vest.    Any one of the suitcases could contain a bomb.

I look around for something to hide behind should someone start shooting.

There’s nothing close enough.   I figure I have better chances outside behind the waist-high concrete walls where I waited for the hotel shuttle, so I go outside.

My shuttle doesn’t arrive and it’s a few minutes past the time they said it would be there.  I watch the same shuttles come and go, but not mine.

A tall black man approaches and says, “Are you waiting for….   What hotel are you going to?”

Before I can catch myself, I say, “Holiday Inn Express.”  

“Come with me.   I’ll take you there.”

Alarm bells.   Should I or should I not?  “What van is yours?” I manage to ask.   He points to a brown one with an indecipherable name painted on it.   Or is it?   Is it a removable decal?

“My colleague asked me to pick you up.   He had a break down.”   I follow, reluctantly.

He loads my two bags and heads out.   I don’t say anything and neither does he.   I don’t know the route to the HIE because the only time I’ve been there, I was leaving Frankfurt.   I don’t remember it being this far away.   Why is he taking this little, remote off-ramp?   Will someone find my body before it becomes a toxic waste site?

I recall that he didn’t name the hotel but asked me its name.  Not good.   I should have made him tell me the name.   Too late now.

And on and on it goes, until he turns a corner in a forested area and there’s the familiar hotel.  I look across the road and there’s the German restaurant where I had a great dinner with Bruce, Betsey, Holly, and Andy.   Where Andy played Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of Over the Rainbow on his ukulele.  

I’m safe.

My room at the Holiday Inn Express


I check in, ask for a 9 AM wake up just in case, and take a hot shower.   It's mid-afternoon when I go to bed and sleep 'round the clock, erasing 18 hours of travel time and any jet lag that might have come my way.

Good thing I left that wake-up call, because I needed it.   Packed, down to the lobby, check out and ready to go to the airport.

And guess who my driver is this morning?!!!   This time, he's in the Holiday Inn bus and not the suspicious brown one.   We have a great chat on the way to the airport.  His parents emigrated from Ethiopia and he was born in Germany.

So nice not to be kidnapped and robbed.



 Complimentary breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express, Frankfurt.



  1. I hate that I've had to lose that trust I had growing up....I hate living behind locks.

    1. Yep, though I just blithely stumble along, believing in the innate goodness of people.

  2. What a shame that anticipating the fun you would soon be having in Africa was overshadowed by thoughts of what might happen. You were smart to be thinking along those lines but unfortunate that the world is full of danger. Phew, I'm so relieved your driver was on the up and up.
    This post is suspenseful although I know you arrived safely back home.

  3. We two sit here, kind of, sort of, stunned that you did not hire a legitimate taxi in the queue that is always present at major airports and ride to the HIE in ease and comfort. It seems to be pushing the envelope to do what you did (and yes, you got-away-with-it ). While in Ulaanbaatar Mongolia I myself got into an automobile with two total strangers but this is common there for Uber-type services. I was wet and cold and it was beginning to rain and it was also late at night so I was between a rock and a hard spot with bus service being shut down for the night. So like you, I too got away-with-it. Smiles Cap and Patti

    1. Why would I hire a taxi when most hotels have free shuttle service?

  4. What great photos of breakfast at the HIE there in Frankfurt. YOU stay in high-class ritzy hotels. I stay in low-bottom economy hotels. YOU ride with a somewhat dubious shuttle driver and I pay for a good taxi. Go figure this out. Smiles Again .. Cap

    1. At 59 euros a night, I wouldn't exactly call the HIE a high-class ritzy hotel. Try it sometime. :)

    2. Just remember, I write with tongue planted firmly in cheek. ;)