The travel day post…

I took this photo from inside the house due to the high winds outdoors.  Many more and better quality photos will follow. To the left is organic salmon fishing, which is common in Ireland.

There are no photos today other than the above main photo. It’s  May 14th.  Tuesday and Tom just returned from Dublin, a seven-hour roundtrip after accidentally leaving the duffle bag behind when we picked up the rental car Sunday morning. The cameras were in the bag.

Travel day consisted of 25 hours from the airport in South Africa to the house in Connemara and then, requiring him to drive back to Dublin to pick up the forgotten bag, a seven-hour turnaround. We’d tried to have it shipped to us, but at the cost of Euro 401.46, US $450 for an express delivery, Tom decided to make the drive.

The duffle contained our laptop power cords, two cameras and their equipment, my sheepskin, my small pillow and blanket, and more. We needed the items promptly. I felt terrible he had to go, but now, this afternoon, after leaving at 6:00 am, he has returned, and that’s behind us. Stuff happens.

I’d written part of the post below on my phone but had yet to post it while on Sunday’s last of the three flights. Subsequently, here it is.  Many of our readers have written to us asking about the long travel day, and it is described in detail below.

Tomorrow, we’ll return to our old schedule with photos and our usual format.  We’ll be heading to the town of Clifden tomorrow to buy SIM cards for our phone and get cash from the ATM. On our way, we’ll take photos which we’ll include in tomorrow’s post late in the day, as this one is now.

Now that Tom has returned, my laptop is plugged in and charging, and thus I can do today’s post. See below for the travel day post. And, of course, thanks for your patience while we have been dealing with these issues.

“I almost don’t know where to begin.  I’m seated alone on a row of three in business class on the last flights from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga to Johannesburg to Dublin. We left Marloth Park 19 hours ago and have the remaining two hours of this last leg and a three to four-hour drive ahead of us after we pick up the rental car in Dublin.

We expect to arrive at our new home for the next three months around 2:00 pm.  It will have been a long 25 hours.

Surprisingly, I held up better than I expected. Business-class on the luxury 747B, two-story Lufthansa aircraft was superb, especially when my seat fully reclined to a flat position. The pillows and blankets are of excellent quality and large enough to stay fully covered in the chilly aircraft. I was disappointed when Tom told me he never slept at all when I’d managed four hours, albeit intermittently due to a lot of turbulence as we flew over the continent of Africa to Frankfurt, Germany.

A wheelchair was awaiting our arrival at each location, but the worst and most confusing pickup occurred in Frankfurt when the attendant couldn’t figure out how to seamlessly get us to the final gate.

I must have got in and out of the chair five times when the attendant needed to leave us waiting in chairs while she ran and helped someone else. We finally made it to the gate and were rushed aboard with little time remaining until takeoff.

But, this was relatively insignificant in the realm of things. We had three significant concerns awaiting us in Johannesburg, listed below in order of importance:
1.  Expired visas for South Africa by almost three months when the bypass surgery kept us from leaving the country as planned. Tom had applied for the extensions while I was in the hospital, but we never received an answer.  It was always in a pending status. At this point, we were considered “undesirables” when we landed in Johannesburg and could be charged outrageous fees and be detained long enough to miss our flight 90 minutes later. We had letters from the doctors for all four surgeries and copies of statements clearly stating the relevant dates and procedures. We also had a copy of the prepaid flight to Kenya for February 15th, which we never used, the last day of a prior visa extension.

Another more competent wheelchair attendant rolled me up to the immigration agent’s kiosk as Tom stood waited, practically holding his breath. After checking our passports, it was evident they had two “undesirables” on their hands.

We were whisked away to an office to meet with “the boss,” an intimidating burly guy with a plastered-on stern look on his face. The you-know-what was about to hit the fan!  And then, safari luck kicked in. Not only did he not ask to see the papers, but we weren’t fined the possible ZAR 8000, US $563.25. We easily could have been charged

However, we were banned from South Africa for five years unless we applied for a waiver by filling out forms and providing copies of the medical records. Since I couldn’t use my computer I wasn’t able to get to work on this. 

We have a fantastic western Africa cruise booked to return to South Africa in 2021 with a non-refundable deposit. We have 10 business days to get it completed (eight remaining), which we’ll do for sure before this weekend. Plus, we’ll want to get back to Marloth by then. We already missed the wildlife and humankind.

2.  Excess baggage fees – We were worried we had to pay for overweight luggage. My bags were OK since I was flying Business Class.  But Tom’s bag was heavy. Well, safari luck once again…no overweight fees.

3. Short layovers with a high risk of missing the second and third flights – Amazingly, we made it to the plane in Johannesburg even with the immigration delay. Being in the wheelchair, although slow-moving in the enormous airports, got us priority placement in the queues for security, immigration, and boarding. We barely made both the flights in Johannesburg and also in Frankfurt. Safari luck prevailed once again.”

We quickly found the distant and remote house in Connemara, and once inside, we realized we’d forgotten that access to the bedrooms was via an open wood spiral staircase. We’d booked and paid for this house long before my surgery. Walking upstairs is still difficult with my bad left leg, and…based on the fact I hadn’t been walking until about a week ago, my strength and stability are marginal at best.

Tom insisted I not go up the steps until bedtime, thus making one trip up and down per day. He placed a plastic bin at either end if there were items to go up or down, such as dirty or clean laundry, my mug, etc., which he carries for me on either trip. This plan is working well so far.

As of this morning, everything is unpacked and put away. We are settled in with the duffle bag here and unloaded, and the grocery shopping is done (more on that tomorrow). More tomorrow on the house, the location, the market, and the arrival of our package with a mix-up, which finally arrived today.

I hope all is well your way.

Photo from one year ago today, May 14, 2018:

The Victoria Falls Bridge was crossing the Zambezi River from Zambia to Zimbabwe. We drove across this bridge and were mesmerized by its beauty. For more photos, please click here.

Comments and responses The travel day post…

  1. Gary Reply

    The cows shop at the same jewelry store. Matching earrings. . .

  2. Jessica Reply

    Gary, quite funny! They actually do! Hope all is well your way. Thanks for the comment.

    Warmest regards,
    Jess & Tom

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