Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Somewhere over Namibia, or maybe Botswana, the cabin attendants let us raise the window sashes on our SAA Airbus A340. Light streamed in. I looked out and saw African clouds.  I had had a restful night, stretched flattish (with angles for knees) on my three empty seats in the back. The flight was not full, and those back seats fill up last, for some reason. Twelve hours behind us, we had another two to go before touching down in Johannesburg,

After collecting my luggage and passing through customs at Oliver Tambo International, I boarded another giant, packed-to-capacity Airbus and we took off, headed for Cape Town. I like this part. Illogically, over Africa, I feel safe. Not so much over the Atlantic. But as I was seated over a wing (stupid me), I could take no pictures unless we were banking, as we did shortly after take off.

I still find flying pretty miraculous.

And then we were over the Western Cape, an hour and a half after take off. Late March is not the green season. 

Soon we dipped under some low cloud to land, and my fellow passenger, an elderly black man silent till now in his crisp suit, and buried in his New Age newspaper, welcomed me home. I suppose I had that look. The pale brown man in the seat ahead of me - we had flown all the way from JFK together -  turned back to me and said, Jis,  I'm glad to be home. Ek is moeg. And I agreed. I was moeg, too.

I slept last night the sleep of the dead. No thumping woke me at 3am, no household noises from below our paper floor in Harlem, just deep dark sleep, accompanied by the vivid dreams of the drugged.

High on silence.



  1. Must feel wonderful to be home ... Perhaps some day you won't have to have two homes so far apart. Enjoy Marie xx looking forward to your next post.

  2. I trust your trip is not due to a family crisis. When I emigrated to Canada from England 50 years ago, it was always in the back of my mind, what about my parents and siblings, but it all turned out for the best.
    My immediate family are all in Canada and my English family are doing fine without me.
    I wish you a pleasant trip and fond memories.

  3. Glad to see you had a nice flight. Also glad to hear it is brown in March all over.

  4. Thank you for this wonderful evocation of those known yet intangibles of travel as well as the sensation of returning home.

  5. Finally, airborne pictures! Love it! We'll make a happy frequent flyer out of you.

    And "I still find flying pretty miraculous" she says matter-of-factly. Join the club! :-)

  6. Your photographs from the air are beautiful, and bravo to SAA for those gorgeously-painted wingtips! I'm glad you had room to recline during your long flight. I remember that flight well, from working it as cabin crew on Pan Am. Silence throughout the night is wonderful, isn't it? Remember to drink as much non-carbonated water as you possibly can during your first few days after flight!


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