Safari, Namibia 2016 #1. Next Link In The Chain. Blog #1 “And So It Begins”

by david on March 27, 2017

This was to be my seventh safari. Seven is lucky, or so I have always been told. Safari number seven was already different than my previous trips in that my little brother was coming along. It was his first safari. I have taken my wife and children across, but, this time, it was different in that he, like his older brother, is a hunter. The same hunter’s blood runs through our veins, beats in our hearts and bonds us to the outdoors in a way only hunters can understand. We’ve shared many trips to the duck blind, as well as a bird-hunting trip to Argentina, but this was our first sortie into the big game hunting arena together. I would be there as he experienced Africa for the first time, and I hoped that he would enjoy the experience as much as I did. I was also hoping by observing him I could just perhaps, just maybe, get a little taste of what it was like to be a first timer all over again. Maybe, by observing him as he follows his first tracks, takes his first game animal, and enjoys his first sundowner around the fire, I might get a taste of what it was like for me on my first trip.

We got to the airport early and, for once, we were able to park directly across from the terminal. No, I was not going to splurge on parking for a two-week safari. I was leaving the car for my wife and eldest daughter to take home. Somehow they decided if I got a trip, they got one too and they were coming from a week in Paris about 40 minutes before Doug and I left for Namibia. I guess, if you think about, it was expensive parking. Normally, traveling with firearms is no big deal. I was hoping that would be true for this trip as well, not so much. There was a new, streamlined, super-friendly procedure that no one is willing to tell you about until you wait in the long check-in line. After waiting to check in, we had to take the rifles to the oversize baggage check. Next, we had to unlock the cases, wait for someone from TSA to come fetch the rifles, where they were taken behind the curtain and inspected. We were told we simply had to trust that the rifles would be repacked securely, the cases relocked, and that they make it to the airline baggage conveyor belt. To top that off, we were told the rifles had to be checked through to our final destination (Windhoek, Namibia), even though we had to overnight in Johannesburg, South Africa. The thoughts of my guns floating around in either airport for 24 hours scared the heebie-jeebies out of me but there was nothing I could do about it at the moment. So I just let it go and decided to call Debbie at Gracy Travel and see if her guys could sort it out in Johannesburg.

On the other end of the spectrum, I had gotten “Global Entry”, which also gave me TSA pre-check.  That worked like a charm. I went straight to the pre-check line, sat my bag on the conveyor belt, and walked through the scanner, and all was good. One little caveat here: they had to open my bag because the four Yeti-insulated tumblers looked suspicious.  Doug and I found our way to the gates without further ado. I got the text from my better half after they landed, found the car, and were on the way home. Fortunately, we made it to Atlanta on time.

I have been that fond of airline food, so Doug and I made our way to my favorite restaurant at Hartsfield-Jackson for a meal and a beer. This was nice and relaxing before the 16-hour flight to Jo-burg. Making it to the gate and flight on time was painless and we were on board and seated in no time. I must admit I am a big fan of the economy-comfort upgrade as it allowed our easy boarding and provided us slightly more room. I also intended to take advantage of one on the other perks on this trip. I have never been able to sleep on a plane for longer than 45-60 minutes — period, exclamation point. No matter what I tried, nothing worked. This trip, I had a new plan.  Economy comfort seats provide you free alcohol on international trips. My plan was to have a couple along with a few Benadryl to see if I could sleep.  It worked like a charm. Two Jack and gingers with two Benadryl will be on my to-do list for long trips from now on.

Previous post:

Next post: