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enter: wanda* the travelling dinosaur

6 Feb

We have a stow-away. Her name is Wanda.*

Here is Wanda getting all cushioned into the comfy Emirates seat (next to Stof’s man-bag):

Lucky for Wanda (and for us) we had an empty middle seat on BOTH flights from CT-Dubai and Dubai-LAX. We also had very comfortable seats and generous (for economy) leg room and beautiful hostesses and tasty food and a really really impressive movie selection. We liked Emirates.

Wanda quite likes the travelling life. She especially appreciates a good view. Like this one from the roof of our hotel in Dubai:

(She would have appreciated it more if we had taken a less blurry photo of her, but it was starting to rain giant raindrops and we needed to go shopping (when in Dubai…) so it was a one-shot Wanda.)

Wanda does not like to wait. We had to wait for about an hour before we took off in Dubai for LA after passing through the boarding pass section. Aaargh.

She got a little tetchy and tried to make a phonecall. It was about 3am in South Africa, so she reckoned our niece Electra would be awake.

Lucky for Rob’nPat she didn’t have a phone card.

After 16 1/2 hours in the air on our way to LAX** we were all a little nervous about our 5 hour lay-over in the US. These were some of the things we were worried about:

  1. We would get stopped at customs with our 5kg of chocolate and most amazing first aid kit which included, inter alia, two vials of morphine and adrenaline each.
  2. Not all of our 4 enormous bags weighing 32kg each (we got to weigh and re-pack them in Dubai where the lady at the check-in desk was friendly, but not as prepared to bend the rules as Lynn) would arrive.
  3. We would not have enough time to go to the UPS Store to collect the various items we had sent there from Amazon and other suppliers.
  4. We would not be allowed to check the new bag of freshly collected stuff in due to our copious other luggage.
  5. Stof might have to spend the night in LA due to anything going wrong.

But it was all fine! Really? We could not have wished for the LA bit of our crazy journey to have gone smoother. Stof and I kept looking at each other in disbelief and laughing and smooching (once we had finally brushed our teeth) and high-fiving and generally feeling better than lottery winners!

We all climbed on to the prop plane to La Paz feeling triumphant. If you look carefully, you will see Wanda grinning out of the top of Stof’s bag.***

The flight to La Paz was gorgeous. A little bumpy, but we don’t mind bumpy too much in our family. It was marvellous to fly over the coast of Baja California and to see from the air some of the islands we hope to explore in the Laura Takalani.

This one reminded Wanda of herself for some reason:

So now we have all arrived. Exhausted. Cold (we forgot about winter).**** Pleased that we do not have to step on to another plane for at least a year.

* Um… Dear Nieces and Nephew. “Wanda’s” name may not be Wanda. If it is not Wanda and you had already named her/him something else, please let us know forthwith and we will rename her/him immediately. Weloveyouthemost, Sara and Stof.

** We flew over the North pole! How awesome?

*** Erm. No, you will not see Wanda grinning out of the side of Stof’s bag, I’m afraid. But I wanted to work that information into the post now and I couldn’t figure out how else to do it because we forgot to take a photo of Wanda at that time. Mea culpa.

**** To be fair: all the locals reckon that today is the coldest it ever gets in La Paz and it was about a max of 20C. But when you have only come prepared for balmy island paradise, that is CHILLERS!

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ex cape town

2 Feb

If this week has been a whirlwind of packing and organising and frenzy and partying and dining and last-minute admin like never seen before, then yesterday was a veritable tornado.

In retrospect it is clear that leaving ourselves a day to not only pack our own bags, but also pack up the office and cottage we’ve been using thanks to the world’s most magnanimous in-laws, was ridiculously ambitious. Stof and I have promised ourselves that we “won’t do that again”… the great thing about this being a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is that the odds are fairly high that we WILL NOT do that again…

The craziness climaxed just as my parents arrived to fetch us for the airport, Stof’s dad and Sis-Curly came home from work for farewells and my mum-in-law shuffled over the garden from the main house to see if all was in order. The big bags were (over-)packed – more on that later – my “keep” clothes had been jammed into boxes, I’d crammed most of Stof’s remaining (but who knows whether they are keepers because he has refused to sort them since we moved out of our house in JULY. Breathe, Saartjie…) and all that remained was to pack my hand luggage, shower and re-attire in comfy but not too scruffy airplane clothes.* Then we could leave for the airport leaving only a minor wake of shambles behind us (sorry Nova for putting  you through that).

Enter: The Great Hand Luggage Crisis of (1 February) 2011. Set aside for my carrying were:

  1. My laptop;
  2. The B-GAN (satellite internet connection: not that much bigger than  a netbook, just bulkier and heavier);
  3. The folder with all our important documents;
  4. Small bag with important** jewelry, i-pods etc;
  5. Cruisers manual to commence the provisioning;
  6. Leggings and cardigan in case it was chilly in the plane (or LA);
  7. another Object which shall be revealed forthwith; and
  8. bitsnpieces…

I had Stof’s old backpack set aside to accommodate all of the above.  I own a rather larger, more accommodating backpack, but Stof had insisted that the green*** backpack be put  in storage so we had no alternative but to insert all of 1 – 8 above into the old (Stof’s) backpack.

It did not fit.

I issued forth a blood-curdling yelp. And a few more. There were probably some choice swear words mixed up in the yelping. All the stress and balance of the past few days, weeks and months were working towards this moment of getting to the airport with all in tact. The possibility that it might not happen smoothly (and the realisation that it was happening, period!) culminated in some pretty gnarly noises. Sorry mum and mum-in-law and dad and dad-in-law and Sis-Curly and (mostly) Stof-my-love for the horror of my outburst.

And then the problem was solved (temporarily, I am presently typing as quickly as I can so we can go out and buy a more suitable replacement hand luggage bag), goodbyes were hugged, and we were already at the airport with about 130kg of luggage.

130kg of luggage made up of three suitcases, a sail bag and a set of spear guns (for fishing) is not a small amount. Especially when your limit as a couple is four bags not weighing more than 23kg each. (Which would be about 92kg in total – for the numerically challenged.)

Somehow, miraculously, we had an angel (called Lynn) working the desk. With some imaginative solutions, strategic removal of various heavy objects, the insertion of the spear guns into the sailbag (ok, they do stick out a bit), biting-the-bullet to pay for some (not too ghastly) excess, and the genius intervention of Lynn: we were checked in! And it only took us and hour and a half… Moral? We are so arriving for our other flights at least three hours early. Probably more.

So now we are in Dubai. Whew. And Wow. Although I’m not really “wow-ing” Dubai as a city as we are yet to venture out of our hotel wich is RIGHT across the road from the airport. But this hotel has a bed and hot showers and place to walk around in and stretch out and with a 16-and-a-half hour flight to Los Angeles ahead of us, that is sounding pretty marvellous! There was a panic on the plane when I thought that I hadn’t actually paid the deposit for the hotel and then we would have to try to find somewhere to stay at 6am when we finally cleared customs, but standing at the bottom of the (long) escalator leading to passport control was a beautiful woman with a placard with our names on it! She showed us the way and assured us our hotel transfer would be on the other side. I nearly kissed her I was so delighted.

Now we are well and truly on our way.

*Speaking of airplane clothes: South Africans! What is it with that scruffy travel look??? I can spot you in almost any airport around the world. It’s like someone told us we didn’t have to travel in our Sunday best so we took the dress code of the sky to be “hanging out at the plaas (farm)”.

** Not important enough to leave behind, though.

***My one, of course it’s green.