It begins

 

20/09/2016

It begins – (and after being sent to automatic passport check – waiting in line, watching the circle go round and round and round and ….. Get sent to normal queue – at the back and the whole process done again – manually πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚)
Let’s hope this isn’t an indication of what’s to come 😜😜.

And that was the easy bit πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
You understand I am very organised – I even have one of those body hug things you keep your passport in – but not to be used yet ( why not I now ask myself)
Cause suddenly I cannot find my passport!!!! Visions of a trip home tonight instead of two months time !!!!
Sweaty stressed and out of breath I end up at the gate to find it waiting there for me – it just didn’t dawdle along with me; it went straight to the gate – no one knows how but it and I have been happily reunited πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜€πŸ˜‚πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ» and I shall shortly be putting it in that body hug thing πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ» – the end
– I am safely in my seat on the correct flight with my passport safely tucked away πŸ’€

 

 

Drying off …

img_5263

21/09/2016

As I dry off – you see I thought to kill time in the hopes the crush would disperse, by visiting ‘the loo’ – which had 2 cubicles – about 8 patiently waiting ‘customers’ and one eastern squat ‘affair’
I’ve used them before so ….. Clearly lost the knack – by the time I had completed my ‘ablutions’ I had almost taken a shower πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜©πŸ˜©
Wet denims, wet back, wet sweater
And the cubicle had a good wash too —
But the good news – DRY SHOES – a win
Bored yet?
Thanks for your good wishes – clearly I am in need of all the help I can get πŸ˜…

Abu Dhabi chaos

21/09/2016

Abu Dhabi – so beautiful from the air
Curves – even the radio control tower is elegantly curved – like the dunes I remember from Namibia
The airport is large and beautiful but after standing in a crush (cannot call it a line) for more than 20 minutes to get through one gate and then 15 minutes of sweaty agitated bodies squeezing me as they jostled to get through 2 security checks – where Everyone had to take off shoes belts watches – (I wondered when someone would strip altogether as a protest – no one did! )
I am revising my opinion – the poor people who were trying to get on a USA connection – chaos is all I can say
And we haven’t arrived in Africa yet πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
One poor old man lost his cool and began shouting in protest – he was quietly marched off – but interestingly the door was opened immediately for some of us – only some mind you 😜

Entebbe

 

Finally made it onto a flight – via Nairobi to Entebbe
But such interesting people I have met along the way – I’ve stopped minding the delay
And here I am – all alone at papyrus guest house feeling a little like the queen eating alone with people waiting on my every move!!
Bed and sleep – and likely off grid from tomorrow as I am not going to use scissors as they do to get my phone to charge in their plugs πŸ˜³πŸ˜‚
And an interesting stroll this evening – flying ants pouring out of the ground and then children pouring out if nowhere to eat them!!! And then women too – all grabbing them and popping them in their mouths with shrieks of joy – like lollies – thought I ought to try but couldn’t face it at the last minute – live flying ants – just couldn’t put that in my mouth and cause it’s death πŸ˜₯ Β  No photos I’m afraid – too dark
The adventure continues

 

A long flight….

We sit alongside each other : an empty seat between us. Β  And neither body spills over into it, which should give rise to a minor celebration on a long haul flight. Β  But there is no celebration. In fact there is nothing; not a look, smile, nod, scowl, absolutely nothing.Β  The empty seat is as solid a barrier as if there had been a body in it. Β  Each of us is absorbed in our own worlds, our thoughts private creating this strange isolation in a plane so large and full.

It is a long flight, this flight ‘home’ .Β  In a way it begins at 5.30am when I wake with the light in my room and go for a walk, because there will be sitting and sitting, effectively two days of sitting.

Then there is the packing.Β  Β  The usual struggle to get back into my bag the stuff I easily took out on arrival. Β  Why doesn’t the same amount go back in? Every time!!!Β  So I negotiate with myself – you’re coming back soon so leave this behind, and that, and it would be a good idea to leave these shoes too. Β  (Which of course it wouldn’t as I will need to replace them at home 😜) but it’s all part of the long journey home.)

There are always people I didn’t get to see, the last minute phone calls- all somewhat unsatisfactory as I’m sort of half gone already; the private negotiation with my guilt about those not made;Β  the rushed shopping for someone I had overlooked. Β  The constant recalculation of how much time before I must leave going on in my head like a needle stuck on a long playing record.

There is the security of a ritual lunch out with two special special grannies. Β  Conversation somewhat muted, as we go over the highlights of my visit;Β  more effort than usual is required to fill the silences.Β  Β 15107318_1377524708933297_2543157797124281220_n

And suddenly time has run out and I must leave, lock the bag, throw it on the back seat – the car is never large enough for anything but a pair of runners to fit in the boot, regardless of the little drawing of 4 people, 2 bags on the computer screen when you book it.πŸ˜‚

Hugs and tears, each parting is more painful than the previous and I shut myself off from the figure still standing at the top of the driveway as I drive off.

Family and friends text and call all the way to the airport so my concentration is challenged and my heart is blessed. Β  Β 

img_5696Car drop off zones seem far more complex to access than car pick up zones, round here, switch lanes, to the far end. Β  And then back again to the airport!!!

The bag next, wrapped in plastic so no one can open it. Β  Not even me, at the other end 😜.Β  It takes superhuman patience to cut open a bag wound in ‘African’ plastic after two days of travelling. Β  Funny I never feel the need to do the plastic thing going into SA, but always do going into Oz, something about our customs people make me very nervous.

And then joy of joy; my most special friend is at the airport; this too is becoming a ritual. Β  She stands with me as I check in, she smiles and distracts me as I hand in my phone card and effectively cut off ties. Β  She joins me for a cup of tea as we talk and laugh and share and use up some of the three hours check in time. Β  She always pays and I always let her. Β  And then again, it’s time and I must leave again.Β  We laugh and hug and pretend it’s not for long and I walk through the gate that marks the point of no return.

It’s a long flight this flight home.

My boarding card says gate A00, the gate is marked A0.Β  Β 

My boarding card says Johannesburg to Abu Dhabi, the sign at the gate shows flights going to 5 destinations, but not Abu Dhabi.

You will understand, if you have been following my journey, why I am very careful these days about times and gates 😜😜😜

So I check with the nice young man sitting next to me; he too is going to Abu Dhabi and is confused now that I point out the minor discrepancies between boarding passes and gates.

I look for an official – but we are sitting at gate A0 – the furthest gate of the airport and no official seems to venture that farπŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚.

The nice young man and I begin talking. Β  We have an ‘airport conversation’ which is at the same time intimate and remote. Β  He is visiting his sister in Sydney for her 40th birthday celebration. Β  He rode the 97.4 bike ride yesterday. Β  He works for Sandvik;Β  he ran up the berg and has a nice t shirt to commemorate the race.Β  Β 

I’m about to learn about his ex wife and the work she does when an official arrives, asks for our boarding passes and moves us into two rows. Β  We smile, we’ll finish our conversation shortly.Β  Β  We don’t. Β  We don’t see one another again, despite being on the same plane for 23 hours. Β  Such is the world of travel

Drinks are served by a friendly steward. Β  Red wine alongside, Diet Coke for me (why did I ask for it, fizzy and unattractive) – surely I could have thought of a better companion to my dinner.Β  Β  Or perhaps it is exactly the right match for my dinner, for while the menu handed out earlier with such flamboyance describes a succulent lamb briyani, the reality is far from that .Β  Β  I wonder if the expensive tickets really do translate to excellent meals?Β  I will never know.

We doze, my silent travelling companion and I.Β  Β  I wriggle, fiddle with the movies but can’t concentrate, put the flight path on and watch as I and the aeroplane on the screen move ;

Time since departure 20 mins

Time since departure 2 hours

Until 10 hours later I see

Time to destination 20 mins.

The a three hour wait and another 14 hour flight.

What’s with going home?Β  The same flights – reversed I’ll admit, and transits tackled with So much more care.Β  Β  It is though, essentially the same.Β  Β 

So why is the trip home longer?

Quieter?

Slower?

Is it the difference between looking back over something as against looking forward to something I wonder?Β 

One way you can create; imagine a perfect reality.Β 

The other way the reality is exposed to you.Β  The joy, the pain, the fractures.Β  Β 

And there always is a fracture, sometimes appearing long after like a chip in the windscreen unnoticed till it shatters suddenly. Other times like a serpent trapped and lashing out in a frenzy to protect itself from what it sees as an enemy.Β 

Sometimes we can mend; sometimes not.

Sometimes it has to do with living two different lives in two different places; sometimes not.

Sometimes it has to do with choices we make, sometimes not.

Is it the knowledge that I leave a ‘home’ troubled, groaning, needing willing hands , and I go to a ‘home’ where things are good and, out of sight, I can quickly forget about the poverty, corruption, pain and enormous beauty and potential I am leaving, that makes the trip feel so much longer?

Or is it simply I am flying into the sun, ever east, forward chasing the clock.img_5591

I doze as I sit in my seat,Β  34k,Β  last row of the plane, second leg of the flight, listening to the cabin crew talking, digesting another largely indigestible meal advertised as lunch.

I ask myself why lunch and not dinner since the plane has been plunged into darkness; every blind pulled down, forcing us to pretend it’s night although the sun shines blindingly on the white clouds beyond the Perspex.

My flight path aeroplane showsΒ 10 hours to go

It’s a long flight ‘home ‘

Just confirming ….Β 

For Thomas and those of you who followed my previous adventures (and if you didn’t, you could see it on “Don’t Ask”)

Here I am; 

Right airport;

Right gate;

Right time;

No reading; 😒 

So in theory I’m all set – πŸ˜œπŸ˜œπŸ™πŸ»



All set ✈️✈️

A good flight?

Can there in this modern age of flying, be such a thing as a good flight (assuming one travels in the back of the bus so to speak 😜)? 

 I think not. 
I remember when one dressed up smartly to fly, when security was just a word, not queues and queues of frustrated passengers in long lines being ‘processed’ by grumpy security people. (And being made to virtually strip- belts, watches, oops maybe it’s your shoes No? Well take your earrings off ). At the other end of this process is a fascinating scene of men and women reassembling themselves, wobbling trying to put shoes back on, lifting shirts often too high to thread belts back; dropping things as they get back into coats, scarves and hats.

It would all be very amusing if I wasn’t trying not to miss a flight. How did I get booked on a connecting flight with less than an hour between the two😩😩😩😩

But I digress because the first leg of this long haul was not too bad ( in the context of modern flying) and my ‘co traveller’ and I nodded hullo then dozed or dreamed most of the way.   

Talk, slim, French and ridiculously young (when did I start thinking everyone was ridiculously young?). I discovered she is a university lecturer in Holland and her partner the same, but in Melbourne. How the world is changing. 

 So she commutes.   

And knows the modern ways πŸ˜œπŸ˜‚

Which was wonderfully helpful πŸ˜ƒ

She reminded me I could use the butterfly of my earring to take the SIM card out of my phone – which was fortunate as I had not brought my ‘thing’ with me.

On discovering how little time I had to connect flights, she led the way. Up you get and follow me was her instruction. 

And so I did, gratefully, as she pushed and hustled her way past passengers on the plane (can you imagine how popular we wereπŸ˜‚). The advantage of height, beauty, French and confidence – me, I kept my head down and hung onto her bagpack so I could be part of her πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚.

Then off the plane, weaving in and out of passengers going wherever they were going and on to security. (Why security again? We remain in transit throughout 😩).  Which is where the undressing was taking place 😜

Her youthful long legs took it all in her stride, my somewhat shorter, and considerably older legs took a bit of a pounding and suddenly she was gone : I remain forever grateful to her

I made my connection and the journey continues, or perhaps I should say the waiting continues.   Having broken the 4 minute mile record, I now sit and wait and sit and wait to board 

But board this time, I will – just not sure when 😜

Are we there yet?

I will, I assume, finally get to Heathrow.    
I feel like I’ve been travelling for weeks 

A full full flight, me at the window, not sitting but squeezing in. A charming gentleman the cause, very sociable when awake and very snorey when not. All the time he is large; awake some of the size, he contains, but asleep, well then the body relaxes, the legs spill onto mine and the arm rests disappear as his upper limb collapses onto ‘my side’ πŸ˜‚
The only up side of this uncomfortable tedium is outside my window; snow capped beauty, and on my screen names of cities I’ve dreamed of visiting and some I didn’t even know existed:

Zagros mountains(where precisely are they?); Baku, Ervil, Baghdad, Tehran, Basrah, Tbilisi, Riga, Black Sea 

Flying 😩

Flying today is not as i have said previously for the faint hearted but demands a strong constitution and sense of humour

My travel companion this time is an elderly gentleman, not spilling over into my seat physically as has been the case in the past, but nonetheless he spills over.

The first large loud and distinctly pungent burb exploded (there is no other word to describe it) with such force several heads turned our way.

I maintained a stoic dignity looking ahead, a little unsure of the appropriate response. He is elderly, there are cultures where that is a sign of courtesy and acknowledgment of a good meal – we had been given a tiny packet of saw dust tasting nibbles – perhaps that was it?

His voice is loud and demanding and the slight Serbian air hostess is politely taking offence at his tone. She and I make eye contact and understand one another. Another Loud sound emerges with a huge sense of satisfaction and I inhale tomato juice I didn’t order πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ and continue to look ahead – “I heard nothing”

A sneeze follows, we all jump and the sounds that follow shall not be described 😳
Special meals are now the norm and it is a circus as everyone around me seems to have swapped their seats and my Serbian air hostess is wandering around with huge baskets of specials trying to find the owner of a seat number; vegetarian Hindi, vegetarian; ( there can be a difference?) Gluten free, you ordered low calorie? Oh, nut free? Lactose free? No I don’t have an order for sugar free; boneless fish?

And finally the normal meal trolley arrives – by which time most people have had their specials so I feel special as she aims directly for me – almost the only one left to feed πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

One thing I know, whichever meal anyone gets, they will all fit the bill of taste free.
And my travelling companion now slurps with great delight, (oh that I could share the sound with you πŸ˜œπŸ˜‚)another tomato juice – no ice, salt yes, no pepper! No good

Perhaps the burbs are not after all a sign of contentment

We are both after all on a long distance flight!
I too may start to burb if any more tomato juice, with or without salt and pepper is served 😳
Flying requires a sense of humour, strong constitution, short legs (score there 😜) and a very good book (score there too)
And we are still not there yetΒ