|Seated over the wing, some of our views were obstructed. But the Heavens offered up this cloudy view.|
We finally made it to Marloth Park. At the moment we’re situated on a comfy sofa, inside the house. The overhead fan is sufficient to keep us comfortable, although we’ll turn on the AC in the bedroom before going to bed tonight, the sooner, the better, that is, the going to bed part, I mean. To say we’re pooped is an understatement.
From the enthusiasm we expressed in yesterday’s post, everything went downhill from there.When Tom and I had lunch in the airport café in Nairobi we were giddy with excitement at how smoothly everything had gone thus far.
How foolish we were! I remember thinking to myself, “Slow down, girl! This could change on a dime!” (Excuse the cliques spinning through my head).
Our flight to Johannesburg was scheduled to depart at a 4:00 pm. A few hours earlier we were told the flight was late due to “equipment issues.” Oh, that’s comforting.
As you read yesterday, the takeoff time continued to change, hour after hour. Until finally, we were told we’d be taking off at 8:35 pm, a four and a half hour wait beyond the already over four hours layover from our arrival in Nairobi from Mombasa for a total of eight and a half hours of waiting time.
The chairs in the waiting areas were uncomfortable rigid plastic. Our “old age flat butts” caused us to squirm constantly as the bony parts made contact with the unforgiving plastic. Getting up and walking around every 15 minutes seemed to be the available relief.
Thank goodness, we’d parked ourselves next to the complimentary digital charging station, allowing us to keep our computers and phones charged. There was no possible place to play Gin.
A gate/waiting area was set up with complimentary beverages and cakes, as we waited with other frustrated passengers, many of whom had missed their connecting flights. We were grateful that we’d booked a hotel room for the night, a short drive from the airport with a short upcoming flight scheduled at 11:10 am today.
At 9:00 pm, we were buckled into our seats on the plane with profuse apologies from the captain over the lengthy delays offering no further explanation for the delays. Quickly, the engines were started as the plane began to maneuver onto the tarmac in order to head to the runway.
All of a sudden, all the lights went down, the engine died and all electrical ceased to work. Oh. This made my heart pound as I grabbed Tom’s hand, saying, “Gee, good thing this didn’t happen five minutes after takeoff!”
|Taking photos from an airplane creates a hazy view through the thick, often dirty, and damaged windows.|
At that point, we assumed (foolish us) that we’d be getting off this malfunctioning plane while having to wait many more hours for a replacement. Actually, I was hoping this would be the case, “My head was screaming, get us out of here!” My mouth stayed shut, waiting to see what transpired, albeit with nerves affray.
The pilot announced that there was an electrical problem (duh) and that he was going to have the ground crew pull the plane back onto the tarmac to work on it. “No,” I thought, “just get us off this plane.” As a recovering “fear of flying” traveler, all my old fears kicked in. But, with Tom’s continued assurances, I managed to hold it together.
After the ground crew worked on the plane for 20 minutes, with no explanation, the flight attendants began the manual emergency instructions since the drop-down video screens wouldn’t drop down in order to display the usually recorded safety video. That was comforting, huh?
We waited and then, waited some more. Finally, the engine fired up, the lights came back on and the plane was prepared for takeoff. It was evident by the hushed tones in the cabin that most of the passengers were anxious. Once in the air, I sat back, exhausted, unable to focus on reading one of my Kindle books. It was after 10:00 pm.
Dinner was served with nothing I could have except for a small dish of tomato, onions, and cucumber chunks swimming in an oily base and a wrapped slice of processed cheese. Tom shared his chunks and slices with me while I shifted everything else on my tray to him.
|The clouds were ominous on our flight from Mombasa to Nairobi Kenya. Surprisingly, there was little turbulence on that otherwise easy flight.|
There was a two or three years old child in the seat directly behind me who either kicked the back of my seat in rapid succession or burst into a round of hysterical crying. Certainly, this wasn’t a pleasant experience for such a youngster nor did it make it possible for either of us to nap.
Four hours later, we reached Johannesburg. However, we continued to wait for no less than 20 minutes after landing before they finally opened the doors to allow us to deplane.
Tom and I, as usual, were the last passengers to leave. Our carry on baggage is too bulky to freely move through the aisles with passengers shoving and pushing with their own carry on bags in tow. We’ve found it less stressful to simply wait until all of the other passengers have cleared the aisles.
If a passenger had no purchases to declare they were allowed to bypass customs without even an inspection. At immigration, we merely asked for a 90-day visa and it was stamped on both of our passports as requested. His next task was to find an ATM so we could find a taxi and get to our hotel.
As we wheeled the two complimentary large luggage carts loaded with our stuff to the ATM machine, we were approached by two well-outfitted security guards who proceeded to explain the late-night dangers at the airport. They stated that their attendance was required for us to use the ATM and to accompany us to the curb to find a taxi.
For a moment we were suspicious of them, but, when they stood back on the lookout as we received our cash in South African Rands (hereinafter referred to as “ZAR”), we felt more at ease.
The guards did in fact find us a taxi. Giving each of them a tip we proceeded on our way to the Protea Airport Hotel, a 10-minute ride. We paid the driver the required ZAR $150, US $14.70 plus a tip for ZAR $50, US $4.90, a much deserved small token of appreciation for his help with loading and unloading our bags onto the hotel’s large rolling cart.
|This photo, although slightly lopsided, illustrates how far the work has come on the rebuilding of the Nairobi Airport after a recent fire.|
Having prepaid the room checking into the hotel was quick. We were more than anxious to get to bed. By the time we were situated and under the covers in a comfy cool air-conditioned room, it was 3:30 am to us, actually, 2:30 am Johannesburg time due to a one hour time change during the flight. It took us an hour to fall asleep.
From the time we left Diani Beach, Kenya at 8:00 am on Saturday with Alfred to head to Mombasa (1.5 hour taxi ride) until we arrived at the hotel it was 19.5 hours. Total flying time for both flights: 4 hours 50 minutes.
By 8:30 am Sunday morning we were having the buffet in the hotel’s restaurant. Good food. Great coffee. And, hoping that the upcoming third of the three flights would be smooth.
All moved along with ease until we reached the security check-in at Johannesburg after we’d checked our four bags, (without any excess baggage fees). As we loaded the laptop bags, my handbag, the duffel bag, and the pill bag into the scanner, two things transpired.
One, I got frisked. Two, they made us completely empty my laptop bag that contains all of our required paperwork, second passports, power cords, ancillary digital equipment, portable scanner, and portable printer. They were looking for something “round” that continued to appear on their screen, even after the contents were removed.
No less than six times, they removed items from the bag running it through the scanner over and over. They’d remove an item, scan the bag again, put the item back, remove another item, and on and on. We thought we were going to miss our flight.
Too exhausted to argue with them that there wasn’t a dangerous or prohibited item hidden in the bag, I finally pointed to a round insignia on the outside of the bag with the brand name engraved. Apparently, the insignia was the problem, they explained, trying to convince us they were “just doing their job,” leaving us to repack the computer bag to be on our way.
The South African Air Links fight was leaving for Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Park Airport in 20 minutes. We had to hustle to get to the gate on time to take a bus to the tarmac, climb a skinny steep stairway to the plane and take our seats for the final 40-minute flight.
Ah, the flight was a flawless smooth takeoff with a relatively gentle landing and overall incident-free. If our bags had arrived with us, our driver was awaiting us and we could be on our way for the 161 km, 100-mile drive to Marloth Park, we’d be grateful.
Yes, we certainly are grateful to finally have arrived. As we write this now at 8:00 pm Sunday we’re still stuffed from breakfast deciding to skip dinner tonight. Instead, we’re lounging, writing for our readers, anticipating a much needed cool night’s sleep and tomorrow morning’s coffee on the veranda
And yes, we’ve already had visitors! And yes, the AC works and the house are much more than our expectations. Stop back tomorrow for photos and the happy stories since our arrival at one of Mother Nature’s magical wonderlands, Marloth Park, South Africa, our new home.