Monday, September 19, 2011

If this is Africa, then why am I so cold?!?!?!

After sitting in the Toronto airport for 10 hours waiting for our flight, we finally boarded at 9:45pm. This being our first flight on Etihad, the official carrier of the United Arab Emirates, we were curious to see who our seat mates would be on the flight to Abu Dhabi. Given Toronto's large Indian population and Etihad's numerous destinations throughout India, it should not have come as a surprise that this flight was the subcontinent cattle car express. The flight was completely full, I mean, not a single empty seat, and at least 50 percent of the passengers were carrying/pushing/dragging children under the age of three. Our high hopes for a luxury flight were quashed when, upon boarding, Re witnessed a polite, young passenger ask for a glass of water, and the flight attendant sternly replied, “You will get water when all of the other passengers get a drink.” Maybe it was due to our new, lower expectations, but as 11 ½ hour flights go, this one wasn't actually too bad. The seats had a surprising amount of legroom, the food service had plenty of options (all pretty good), and contrary to what we heard on boarding, water was freely available and served regularly. We got into Abu Dhabi on time, and after a brisk 15 minute walk to the next terminal, we plopped ourselves in the chaises for another 3 hour wait. The flight to Cape Town via Johannesburg was empty in comparison, and Re and I secured our own row of four seats which allowed her to stretch out across three of them to sleep. It was another eight hours flying time to Johannesburg, where we sat for an hour on board the plane for a crew change before flying the final two hours to Cape Town. 

We arrived around 8:00am local time on Saturday and breezed through immigrations and customs. We made our way to the MyCITI bus, which delivered us and our 110lbs of luggage to the Cat and Moose Guesthouse on Long Street. John, our new best friend in Cape Town, was waiting for us. As we arrived at 10:00am, our room wasn't ready yet, but John showed us to the coffee and we sat in the courtyard for about 30 minutes, enjoying the blue sky and the birds in the trees until our room was ready, happy to be out of an aluminum tube. Once in our room, we dropped our bags on the floor, brushed our teeth, drew the curtains, and crawled into bed for a three hour nap. Somewhat refreshed, we staggered into the shower and washed off two days of airplane grime before heading out for a walk. Our jet lag and screwed up circadian rhythms conspired to make everything seem very strange and us feel extra paranoid. This may have been fueled by our conversation with a fellow guest, whom we've taken to calling, the Bitter Boer. In his 50 or so years of living in South Africa, he has seen many changes and is none too happy about them. He felt the need to tell us that our plans are stupid, we are stupid, Americans are stupid, and that everyone in South Africa wants to kill us. Truly a charming gentleman. We did have a lovely dinner of (wait for it.....) Indian food before heading back to the room at around 7:00pm to brush our teeth and go back out to watch some of the Rugby finals at a pub across the street. As the room only has one chair, we decided to lie down on the bed, just for a few minutes, before heading out, and instead, woke up 13 hours later to a gray, rainy morning. 

We had planned on visiting several museums, but most of them are closed on Sundays, so instead we searched for a gas can since we left ours in Toronto (couldn't carry them on the plane) and did some grocery shopping. We also signed up for the rather clunky wifi hotspot and emailed people to let them know we are still alive. I found the British Airways cargo tracking site and learned that the crate with our bikes had arrived at noon today. YAYYYYYY!!! We went out for fish and chips, was Sunday, and all the chip shops were closed. So, with few other good-looking options, we went back to the restaurant from the previous night and had...MORE INDIAN! Later that evening, we wandered out in search of a beer and found ourselves at the Long Street Cafe. We enjoyed an evening of people watching over a couple of Carling Black Labels. We turned in early since we tomorrow was going to be a big day.

Oh, and Cape Town has been cold, with highs in the low 60s and lows in the upper 40s. We do not have enough clothes for this. It's a good thing our bed has a very thick blanket and a comforter under which we can snuggle up!

Oh. And the Cat and Moose is not a typo. They have a cat named, Cat, and a dog named, Moose. 

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