And so the adventure begins…
With any of my big trips the start to this one wasn’t going to be smooth. I should have expected that by now. I’ve ended up in a Thai hospital 2-3 days after leaving NZ for the UK 5 years ago, I ended up in A&E in New York after just a few days of being in the states last year and now I was being told that I may not be able to get on the flight that I had arrived to the airport 3 hours early to check in for.
Good old British Airways had a previously cancelled flight which meant they’d given most of the seats on my flight to people from the previous flight. I was asked if I’d like some money and a hotel if I wasn’t in a rush, but I had already booked accommodation in Namibia and was starting my volunteering the following day so it wasn’t going to be an ideal situation. Then when I asked if I could try get an aisle seat I was told there was no seat for me yet, go have a coffee and come back in an hour and a half and see. Oh joy!
If you’re wondering, there is next to nothing to do outside of security and duty free at Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5. Nero and the 45mins free wifi were my only choices really. I sent a few concerned (moaning) messages in this time and then was set to spend the night in the impending hotel and have to re-organise my first few days in Africa. I was number 9 in the seat queue, what were the chances that 9 people would give up their seats?
Well, pretty good actually. With under an hour until my flight was due to leave I was zipping through the airport with a ticket in hand! Yippee! Not quite the stress free start to my adventure that I’d been hoping for, but it was a success. I was kindly given the middle seat next to a giant, but managed to only get up twice in 10-11 hours so I figure I did well all things considering, for the person that usually gets up and down a million times during long haul flights.
Lesson learnt: if you need to get on a specific flight, don’t leaving checking in until the airport in the hope for an upgrade – you may loose out on the flight altogether. Always try to check in online.
So here I am, feet already bitten, nose full of dry blood from the lovely air conditioning on the planes during the two flights it took me to get to Namibia (yes I know you really needed to know that). I have managed to sit by a pool as the sun went down to read my kindle briefly and realise I’m not in London anymore.
To those of you who are Ebola-concerned, you’ll be pleased to know they are taking precautions. In Johannesburg and Windhoek I had to fill out forms detailing where I’d been recently and they temperature zapped everyone before you could enter the terminal building in Windhoek too.
On the way to the hostel the scenery was pretty barren, very dry with the odd scrub tree growing and mountains in the distance. One side of the city of Windhoek are new and expensive buildings, but I’m told the other side is basically slums, something I’m beginning to realise is pretty common in Africa. Dinner choice were few and far between on a Sunday eve, so KFC it was. Gross as is was, I found ‘mash and gravy’ for dunking chips in (still not as tasty as NZ though).
For now, I’ll leave you here, today I’m off to play with some cheetahs and baby baboons (amongst other animals), I know it won’t be all play, I’m bound to have a shovel in hand at some point, but I am really looking forward to my first chance at helping out actual animal conservation for a few weeks. Not sure when I’ll have internet next, but stay tuned!
P.S. I know this post is missing photographs, I was a little too shattered after the flights and layovers to get the camera out today. Promise next one will be better!
Oh gosh what a rotten start!!! So glad it worked out for you in the end! Can’t wait to see some photos when you’ve settled in a bit!!!! xx
Wow Ngaire. Sorry to hear your exit from the UK wasn’t as smooth as you intended.
But good luck with your travels and keep us all posted on what you’re up to.
Thanks Graham, all worked out in the end! Onto stage two now! Best wishes
It’s wonderful that you make it – there was concern in our wee house & a bed just in case you needed it! (Ps. When I said let me know when you get to J’burg I thought you transferrring there but overnight :D)