Thursday, 19 December 2019

Winter will end at 11 AM


In preparation
Travel is an expectation and excitement rolled into a flurry of emotions that you cannot fully express apart from just being the experience being lived.
I had ample time for plan for my journey to South Africa, once I had passed my TOGAF certification last week Tuesday in London and returned home to Manchester on Wednesday, I had 6 days to get things sorted. My first plan was to get the laundry service to pick up my laundry on Wednesday evening to be returned 24 hours later.
Daily, I had begun to gather the things I needed for my journey, trying to ensure nothing was forgotten, and this without making lists even as a small still voice was advising me to consider a list. I would think I have everything I want and also something for Brian and I to wear, as for weeks I had been looking for matching jackets, Brian being two sizes smaller, but with the same length of arms.
Hefty baggage
I did most of my packing the day before, using compactors for my shirts and trousers with my underwear, then shoes, hats, and other essentials. My portable scales put the suitcases at 19kg and 16kg, I think there was another few kilograms added by the time I got out of the door. I hailed a Uber cab to the airport when 5 minutes into the trip, I realised I had left a wallet at home.
This happened my last trip too, fortunately, it did not contain the essential cards. I got the driver to turn back whilst I retrieved my wallet and we took a more scenic route to the airport. After checking in and being ushered unto the Fast Track lane which was anything but, you begin to realise why you should have more than enough time to clear security.
Security dexterity
Without a doubt, those with toddlers need to research how to traverse security at ease and at speed, I had 4 families ahead of me and everyone looked like first time travellers, babies implacable, mother extending like an octopus granted a few more limbs to unpack bags, hold the baby, keep the other child from running around and attempting the contortions of a double-jointed gymnast. A sight to behold and a good 30 minutes of my life frittered away before the wand wielder checks my watch, cufflinks and affinity bangle, then waves me through.
I proceed to cool off in the lounge, the need for travel to be stress-free cannot be exaggerated, there are two stops before Cape Town tomorrow afternoon. We are coasting at 4C, the thought of leaving winter behind warms my breast.
Hiding the winter props
In Paris, angels were on assignment, that is all I can say. Having walked through the literally inscrutable Charles De Gaulle airport, it is a beast of an airport as friendly as a hyena is to its prey, if it were avoidable, but why simplify the complicated, when you can make it a harrowing experience.
The boarding gates for my next destination of Johannesburg were in the same terminal and I still had to lug my things through security, the obligatory striptease without music has become a dramatic art worthy of an Academy nomination. Thankfully, but thankfully, there were no families with toddlers, pushchairs and kids on fizzy drinks running around like they were buzzing on drugs.
The disarray at the security check is not worth reckoning with, we survived it and I made for the lounge. There, I should have shown my paper boarding pass, but I resorted to my mobile phone boarding pass. With that in hand, I made for a seat with the aim of charging my phone and putting my overcoat into my suit carrier.
Angels working overtime
That was a struggle as I put my phone down and knelt on the suit carrier to get the zipper done up. I only had time for a drink when I noticed my flight to Johannesburg was boarding. I picked up my bags and it was close to a 10-minute walk to the boarding gate and on getting through, I found my seat, put up my hand baggage and was about to sit down when an air stewardess presented me with a mobile phone.
I was completely oblivious of the fact that I had left my phone in the lounge, I cannot account for how the phone made it from the lounge to my seat. The gravity of realising how it could have been a disaster to lose my phone only began to dawn on me hours after. I got me some angels watching over me.
Winter did end at 11:00 AM
As we arrived in Johannesburg, it was 11:13 AM, two minutes ahead of schedule, I was hit with the heat of summer, my winter was over as I was informed I would need to collect my baggage and recheck-in with the local airline that would get me to Cape Town, this after I was told that my baggage had been checked through to Cape Town, I guess that was figuratively rather that literally. I collected my baggage and no additional labels are attached to them.
My seat was pre-allocated, and I could not change it because it was with another airline, Brian had a seat 3 rows from mine as we had arranged to be on the same flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town. We met up in the lounge and I was expecting him to use his charm offensive to get us to sit together. As luck would have it, whilst I was given an aisle seat, the window seat was free, it meant Brian could come to sit beside me for the flight.
We arrived in Cape Town without much fuss, the captain’s parting message beyond the Christmas wishes was the hope that South African Airways would still be a thriving company that provides the wonderful service we have enjoyed over the decades. How Jacob Zuma and his clique almost ruined that bastion of South Africa expression with incompetent and unqualified people.
I was soon in my shorts and amongst the teeming crowds of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.

Courtesy of the William Kentridge exhibition at Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town.

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