Due to the long delay at JFK, we don’t arrive on the continent of Africa until around 10AM (Senegal time), versus the scheduled 4AM arrival. Our itinerary states we fly from Syracuse, New York to New York City. Then, New York City to Dakar, Senegal. Then, Dakar to Cape Town, South Africa. A total of 30 hours of travel time, with the delays.
So we’re at the half-way point in our journey now. At 10AM, we’ve landed on the continent of Africa in the city of Dakar, Senegal. The good news about this is that it’s daylight and we can see outside! The bad news about this is that we are seated in the center of the plane and can’t see out the windows very well. Did I mention we are also seated in front of the bathrooms and haven’t been able to recline our seats for the last 14 hours (6 hr delay + 8 hr flight)? Oh yeah and did I also mention we had the privilege of being seated in the last non-reclining row on our last flight too (Syracuse to NYC)? Grrr. That’s enough complaining from me though, because if there is one major thing apparent of the passengers on this plane, it’s how totally chill, relaxed, even playful everyone is, especially the South Africans.
Paul and I struggle to get a few peeps between passengers out the little portal windows. What we see, when we finally do see it, is a backdrop straight out of an Indiana Jones movie (my best description, sorry): small, colorful, pastel, stucco box shacks…everywhere, covering every pinch of earth, as far as the eye can see. The sky is a pink haze, even at 10AM. What little earth I do see is brown and dusty. I catch a quick glimpse of one lonely, straggly African-looking tree, branches splayed out much like a bonsai. Then the woman in the seat across the row lifts her head and my scenery becomes the familiar tin can again.
WEIRD THING #1:
A team of Senegal cleaners and security board the plane. We learn that we are not allowed to get off the plane, we are just passing through Dakar. The cleaners clean up after those who got off the plane, whose last stop or connection was in Dakar. The security crew starts checking baggage and searching under the seats, even ripping up the seat cushions! We were warned of these hostile inspections ahead of time by the sarcastically funny South African next to me, so we weren’t too alarmed. Still though, weird. Weird thing number one we decide.
WEIRD THING #2:
Finally all cleaning, inspections and new passenger boarding is complete and we climb into the air once again. Once we’re airborne at cruising altitude the flight crew announces that they will be walking through the cabin to spray pesticides on us. No, really. World Health Organization approved, of course, which somewhat comforts us. Not really. Perhaps to keep the malaria mosquitos at bay? Whatever the reason may be, a definite item for the weird thing list.
WEIRD THING #3:
After being disinfected with insecticide/pesticide, it is now time for breakfast. But before the real breakfast we are served a little breakfast appetizer: Ice cream. Ice cream for breakfast, weird.
Eight hours later we finally touch down in Cape Town, South Africa. The hour is 9:30PM. Everyone claps. As mentioned, everyone is still upbeat and peppy as ever, even the babies. The Cape Town airport is swanky and nice and the people at the Avis car rental center are even nicer. A pleasant guy about our age even walks us out to our rental car, gives us directions to our hotel and shoots the breeze with us about climbing.
No plane crashes on the way to Cape Town, check. Navigating through foreign airport successfully, check. Get rental car, check. Learn how to drive on the right side of the car on the left side of the road…uh. Luckily the roads between the airport and our hotel were all one-ways, which I guess is kind of cheating. Who cares, check.
We check into the Daddy Long Legs Hotel on Long Street, the downtown party street of Cape Town, pound our complimentary martinis, and hit the hay. Whew. We made it.
The room Open at the Daddy Long Legs Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa
excerpt from April’s journal, dated Wednesday July 23rd, 2008
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