Safari 2012 Journal Entries- Getting There

by david on August 1, 2012

Getting There

                        Someone once said that the best things in life never come easy.  If that is the case, the effort involved in getting to Africa makes it one of the best things ever.  I don’t guess it is really that bad; it just takes a while.  This latest trip starts about 9:30 am on Saturday, July 14th.  My hose is about 45 minutes from the airport and I want to be there two hours before my 12:15 pm flight.  Janice (my bride of almost 28 years) is kind enough to drop me off, in spite of her not really approving of my hunting, and she even helps me get my stuff into the terminal.  I am taking more stuff over than I should, but I like taking things over that are hard to find or much more expensive in Africa.  I am loaded down, this trip, with trail cameras, binoculars, a rifle scope, assorted electronics, and clothing for a child, with a host of other various and assorted items rounding out the list.  I am fortunate to see no one in line at the international counter and I stroll right up.  Checking in my clothing bag is simple, and I soon have my boarding passes.  Next stop is check in for my rifle case at the TSA /oversize baggage check.  This process is straightforward and I have been through it many times before.  I set the case up on the table, open it so the agent can see the guns inside, sign an orange piece of paper saying the guns are unloaded, and then lock it back up.  I watch as the TSA agent puts my gun case on the conveyor belt and it disappears into the bowels of the airport.

            A quick kiss goodbye and I am off for the security line.  As I wait, I go through my check list: belt off, glasses in backpack, money clip in backpack.  Next, I make sure my shoes are loose and ready to slip off and have boarding pass and passport in hand ready to present.  I am ready to go.  I place everything on the conveyor belt and head for the newfangled -x-ray machine.  A quick whirring of the device and I get through.  Now, all I have to do was hurry up and wait.

            The flight leaves on time and getting to Atlanta is a snap.  A quick tram ride and I am in the new international terminal, and I have time for a snack and a bottle of water for the trip.  I have allowed for a three-hour layover in case of thunderstorms in Raleigh.  Since that was not needed, I will have time to read and relax.

            My flight to Frankfurt leaves on time and I am happy I decided to fly Delta Airlines’ new “economy comfort” status and have the extra room to stretch out.  I do not really remember the food (airline food not worthy of a few brain cells to remember them, go figure), but, after dinner, I tried to get some sleep.  As usual, I can’t sleep on a plane so I spend the next nine hours watching movies or else trying to nap.  Breakfast was about as noteworthy as dinner, but, who cares, I am in Frankfurt and halfway to Africa.

            Arrival time is 8:00 am is arrival time.  At 8:25, I have made my way through passport control (my baggage is checked through to Windhoek, Namibia) and am outside the airport waiting on the shuttle to the Hotel Mecure and my day room.  For those of you not familiar with a day room, it is one of the best things ever.  It is a regular hotel room that you rent for the day rather than the night.  After a short shuttle ride and five minutes at the front desk, I am in my room and headed for a nice hot shower.  After the shower it is time for some shut eye.  I pull the drapes, set my alarm clock and soon find myself in the pleasant state of REM sleep.  I don’t remember what I dreamed, but I am sure it had something to do with a stalk on an African trophy, or maybe some of the lodge’s fine food.  I wake up refreshed and ready to go eat.  I feel like being lazy so I just grab something quick at the hotel, and it is back to the room to put my feet up for a little while longer before heading back to the airport. 

            My flight is at 8:10 pm, so I catch the 4:20 back to the airport to make sure I have plenty of time to check in and make the flight.  Good thing I have some extra time, because the Air Namibia check-in counter has moved and it takes me a while to find it.  I make a mental note to find it before leaving the terminal on my next trip.  Anyway, I find it and get checked in in plenty of time and I am soon hurry up and waiting again.      

            The 10-hour Air Namibia flight is pretty much like the Delta flight except for one thing.  The Air Namibia flight has Amarula!  Amarula is a South African liquor made from the Marula fruit.  If you have ever seen the video of drunken elephants and other drunken animals, it is the Marula fruit that is responsible for their condition.  The Marula fruit makes the most wonderful cream liquor and I dearly love it.  A couple glasses of this over a few ice cubes sipped in the course of 30 minutes makes for the most wonderful nightcap and I can actually sleep a little on the overnight flight.   

            I just finished breakfast so I know I am close to my destination.  I can’t wait to we hit the ground.  It will be early 5:10 am and I will have a full day in Windhoek before we head for camp on Tuesday.  One last announcement from the pilot before we land — it is 19 degrees at the airport.  That will be a most welcome change from the 90-degree weather I left behind in North Carolina just two days ago.  Africa welcomes you in the most amazing and unexpected ways. 


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