Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Trip to Africa - Cape Town

In February I resumed my infamous practice of finding some friend or relative who now lives in a distant country and proposing that I visit. My English cousins have been the primary target of this but this month I visited a friend of mine from graduate school at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Over four years ago, Heather Shaffer married Portuguese diplomat Nuno Mathias and the couple shortly after moved from Washington, DC, to Maputo, Mozambique. where Nuno took up duties as first secretary of the embassy there.

So relying entirely on Heather, my personal travel agent, I set off for Africa on Feb. 4. My first goal was Cape Town where Heather would meet me at a guest house, a large B&B, near the waterfront. My flight was interesting - Cincinnati to Atlanta to Dakar, Senegal, to Johannesburg to Cape Town - at least 24 hours from beginning to end and at least 11,000 miles. It was about nine hours from Atlanta to Senegal. Passengers were not allowed to leave the plane at Dakar. The plane refueled and more food and supplies were brought on and there was a crew change. Security people at Dakar also came on board to search the plane to make sure that those folks who got off at Dakar didn't leave anything dangerous behind. They were pretty thorough, checking under all the seats and seat cushions and making sure the each bag on the plane belonged to someone.

All this meant that we got to stand up and walk around a bit while we were on the ground a little over an hour. Then it was wheels up and another nine hours to Jo-Burg. At Jo-Burg, I discovered my suitcase had been left behind in Atlanta. I gave the info to the baggage claim and set off to find the domestic terminal where I was to catch my next flight to Cape Town on, appropriately enough, South African Airlines.

This went rather smoothly, I changed some dollars to rands (roughly 7 rands to the dollar), and I soon found myself airborne to Cape Town. I caught a cab in Cape Town to the guest house.

Heather was to meet me the next morning and there was a message for me to call her husband. I did so in the morning and discovered that Heather had contracted pneumonia and wouldn't be meeting me in Cape Town but on Saturday would meet up with me at the airport in Jo-burg. Naturally, I was more concerned about her health than this little change in plans and assured Nuno that all was well since I traveled alone most of the time anyway.

So, I set off, guide book and camera in hand, to discover Cape Town. Above was the view out my window at the guest house.


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