Our last day in Africa began with somewhat of a lie in, at least we didn’t need to wake to an alarm or wake up call. We got ourselves together enough to be presentable for coffee and breakfast. Nice to be able to relax. Then the final pack up, cramming all our stuff back into bags along with whatever we purchased. Good thing that I have the expansion few inches on my bag to allow for extra things.
We said our goodbyes to the staff and were driven to the Kasane airport along with Sylvia and Peter, who would be flying with us to Johannesburg on their way home to Cape Town. We took one last ride on the teeth rattling road and arrived at the airport to check in. Went well, now that we’re accustomed to “Africa Time”…. Things proceed at a slower pace. But it’s a beautiful, new facility and we were happy that that checked our bags through to JFK, so no bag handling in Johannesburg.
Flight #8 got us to Joburg, which was our fifth time through the airport. By now we really knew the layout. We had a five hour layover so we meandered through the shops where I managed to spend the last of my rand. No need to bring it home. We were able to use US dollars in both Zimbabwe and Botswana, so no extra currency from there to deal with. We headed out to the gate and began futily looking for an outlet to charge our phones. We finally came upon one that actually worked and fortunately I have my USB gadget that can charge 4 things at once. All three of us got our phones plugged in and we took pity on another traveler who needed the same thing.
The thing that surprised us was that at the gate they proceeded to have yet another security check. They lined up the men In one line and women in another to do pat downs. But there were way more women passengers so that clogged things up. Then the screener had to carry our bags up to another person who swabbed them, then we had to go to a third person to scan our passports. Hmmmm. And that was after already going through security in both Botswana and then going through immigration, customs and security in South Africa. Guess it’s a case of better safe than sorry.
We finally boarded our flight, #9 at 2100 heading to JFK. Fifteen hours. But fortunately the flight was not full and I lucked out getting into a four seat section with just two of us. My seat mate was Alice, an eighty something fiesty black woman from New Jersey who had been to South Africa with a mission group. Before we took off a very heavy set woman sitting across the aisle from me wanted to budge into the two empty seats between us. Well, luckily Alice wasn’t having any of that! She piped up with no bones about it to the flight attendant. Boy, was I grateful. With the extra space I managed to sleep for 9 hours. Yay!
Once landing in at JFK I got to use my new Global Entry pass for the first time. Is that ever worth the time and money to get! Not only do you get TSA pre-check every flight we completely bypassed the inevitable huge immigration lines. We zipped through! But then it was another long layover before boarding our final and 10th flight of the trip to get us back to Seattle.
After waiting five hours we boarded a completely packed plane squished in like sardines then had to sit on board an hour for a part to be replaced. Sigh. Finally got in the air and amused myself watching three movies to distract from being uncomfortable. Then we were finally back in Seattle! We quickly retrieved our bags, hopped in a cab and drove to the ferry terminal to take the Bremerton ferry. And what a gorgeous day to return! Sunny and clear and warm. A beautiful ride across the Sound. An hour later we were picked up by one of Dana’s grandsons, taking us to Dar’s house where I left my car. A 45 minute drive later and I was home! And thrilled to have my daughter and her boyfriend, Kevin, there to greet me.
What a memorable journey!