And I lost 8 hours somewhere along the way. Aaaaaand was sleeping on an airplane for 16 of those hours....soooo this is all I've got for Friday and Saturday:
I left work at 3 on Friday and my mom drove me to the airport for my 4:30 flight to Atlanta. I knew my giant suitcase was heavy and probably over 50, so I told her to just keep circling the parking lot until I figured out how much I was going to have to take out and send home with her.
Lucky for is both, there was an empty curb side check in stand so I could do it all right there. The bag was 57 pounds so I took out my laptop and chargers and the guy said that was good enough. Everything else is coming to Africa!
Thanks to my TSA pre-check, I was sitting at my gate about 3 minutes later. :)
The flight was on time and I even got to board early with the "passengers needing a little extra time" - haha! I'm milking this boot for all its worth! ;)
Easy 2 hours to Atlanta, but a quick 35 minute connection. I knew that was going to be cutting it close.
Got off my plane, got on the train to the international terminal, and race-walked as fast as I could in the boot to my gate. Once I could see it and could tell there were still some people boarding, I quickly ducked in a store to load up on snacks. As if my backpack half full of snacks wasn't enough, I grabbed everything I could that looked good. $27 later, I was at my gate and one of the last ones to board.
Somehow I totally lucked out and got one of the 4 empty seats on the whole plane right next to me. I almost ways get a window seat for flights because 1. I like to see out the window and 2. I like to sleep leaning against it. But I booked this flight kind of late (late in the world of international travel) and an aisle seat in the middle section was the best I could do. Turned out to be great with this boot on - and now I could elevate it on the seat next to me!
There was a college girl on the other aisle making her first trip to Africa (Botswana) for a recruiting trip and she was super cool. We chatted for awhile, flight took off on time, and then I was out. Not like out cold and slept great. I woke up a million times and flipped and flopped and rotated how I was laying (yeah, I basically got to lay down in two seats!) but somehow - all of a sudden, there was only an hour and a half left in the flight and I hadn't even watched a movie yet! I had FOUR I planned on watching!!
So I sat up and ate the gross airplane food and watched / fast forwarded through Foxcatcher. I was unimpressed...
It was an abnormally bumpy flight - especially for a plane that size to be bouncing around, but we Landed safe and on time in to a rainy and muggy Johannesburg, South Africa at 5pm local time. (10am Saturday morning back home).
The immigration line was forever long and barely crawling. What's new. And it was hot in that boot and carrying a backpack.
They had a big scanner thing at the front of the line that everyone had to look in to. It was like an infrared thing that scanned your body temperature. To see if you have Ebola. 😁
Anyways, got another stamp in my passport, hit the bathroom, and grabbed my bag off the carousel. Was pretty happy it made it. It was a tight connection in Atlanta and I was a little weary...
As soon as I walked out of the arrivals hall, I heard Janine yelling my name and waving. She looks and sounds so much like her brother, Denzil, it's scary. Haha.
When we got to her car, she unlocked one side - which I thought was her side, and then walked around to the other side. So I followed her over there and opened up the door and put my bag down in the seat. The seat I thought was mine. Buuuuttt I forgot I was in South Africa and they drive on the opposite side of the road. Which means the steering wheel is on the opposite side of the car. Which means I say down in the drivers seat. Janine said it was "a bit cheeky" of me but I could drive if I wanted to, hahaha! We both had a good laugh over that one...
After a little detour through the rental car return garage (she got lost!) we were on the highway to her house north of Joburg about 30 minutes away. Her mother was in the process of making a big dinner for us when the power went out. Guess that's like a norm every day thing here (She told me, "Welcome to Africa!" Haha.) But it had come back on by the time we got there and dinner was almost done.
We talked a lot on the drive, and it turns out Johannesburg might be the first city that is actually as dangerous as people say! It seems like people are always telling me this place or that place is not safe, but then I get there and it's fine and the Mocs are all cool and say it's safe. But the stories from this local? Don't make eye contact, always lock everything, purse goes in the trunk, don't get in any taxi, NEVER go out after dark... Yikes! She and her mother live in a nice, safe, gated community, but their local grocery store one block away got robbed at gun point a couple of days ago.
They have a great spot though. Cool little two bedroom place with sweeping views of the city from the back deck.
It's autumn here so it's cooling off. Like in the 70s. 60s is cold to them! Ha!
Okay so we ate shortly after I got there and got situated, I broke out the gifts Denzil had sent with me to give to his sister and mother. Two bottles of perfume, he different iPad cases and an iPhone case. But the real winners were the gifts I got them - per Denzil. Root beer for Janine and dried green beans from Trader Joes for Lorraine. I mean you would have thought they just won the lottery. They both went nuts over those things - neither of which you can get here.
Lorraine (mom) had cooked this whole spread for dinner. Butternut squash and some sort of grain - like rice kind of but not really - and some green bean casserole thing and potatoes and lamb and gravy. And peach something for dessert. It was all new to me - the way it was prepared. And man was it good. I mean I had a giant plate piled up and ate it all. So so delicious.
As we were finishing up eating, Lorraine's brother and his girlfriend came over too. Everyone had a good laugh at my American accent...
Oh and I made a new friend. Janine's dog and I are BFFs.
We all sat around and talked for quite awhile. Such a super nice and welcoming family. It was a really enjoyable evening and I felt lucky to be included in with the locals!
I eventually re-packed my back pack so I can just take it with me to Victoria Falls tomorrow (and leave my big suitcase here to get when I fly back through. Score heading to Uganda) and took a nice shower. Felt good to finally wash that airplane grime off my face!
Laying in bed now and it's 11pm. I'm not very tired - shocking, I just slept for 14 hours - but there is a crazy good thunder and lightning and rain storm going on. I've got my window open and that should do the trick!
Heading back to the airport in the morning for a two hour flight in to Livingstone, Zambia. I'm finally going to see Victoria Falls - the biggest waterfall in the world that I've been dreaming of seeing for years!
As always, will update as I can. I should have wifi at my hotel tomorrow night in Zimbabwe, but it's Africa. So you never know. ;)