Sunday, January 17, 2010

Flying SAA

The best news of the year reached me ten minutes after we'd sat down in seats 65 B and C on our SAA airbus. The flight time, the captain announced, would be 14 1/2 hours, and our crew would look after us all the way to Johannesburg. That meant only one thing: we were not landing at Dakar, in Senegal. We usually do, adding hours and angst to the flight. The fewer times I land and take off the better.

At 11am I asked our friendly flight attendant whether sparkling wine was to be had, and she produced a Swartland dry bubbly. A taste of home within our mini, flying homeland. With orange juice, we mixed our Buck's Fizz (Mimosas) and inspected our goodie bag of socks, mask and toothbrush kit.

We admired our sparkly cutlery. And philosophically ate our 'beef' as 'chicken' had been snapped up by the other denizens of cattle class.

I settled back with my new bear neck cushion, purchased from a spa shop at our gate. I love that bear. He was soft and friendly. During bumpy bits I held him on my lap.

Then followed a long flight. Six movies (Up, The Day After Tomorrow, Ice Age 3, Man on Fire, The Incredibles, and something I never finished and hardly remember). Overdose. Dawn found us over the eastern edge of Namibia, having made landfall at the border of Angola and Namibia.

We had spectacular clouds all the way to Johannesburg - it is the rainy season in the north of southern Africa, and afternoon thunderstorms are typical.

A short two hour flight to Cape Town, seated next to a Texan who lives in Cape Town, and says he has perfected ostrich enchiladas. On disembarking he told me I had missed my calling, as a dancing girl in Vegas. My height seemed to impress him. I understood that he felt that he was paying me a compliment so thanked him as graciously as I could. He installs fire suppression systems on oil rigs, worked in Iraq for three years, and said his wife would be waiting at the airport for him with a litre of milk and a chocolate bar.

Why, I asked, What's so special about Cape Town milk?

You only get powdered milk on oil rigs, he said.


Our luggage arrived safely, nothing had been stolen (Vince had cling-wrapped his suitcase at JFK, for a $9 fee, to help deter theft this time, and my case was locked), and we wheeled into the reception area to the whooping of my mother and the waving of her agapanthus.



  1. Ek is bly. Ses films is baie - ek het versadig op drie, toe moes ek lees.

    Geniet dit!

  2. Welcome to "my" hemisphere.
    Will you take the lovable bear back to Estorbo?

    (Please tell you mother her agapanthus welcome was as I'd pictured.)

  3. Hell Marie
    WELCOME to CTown.
    Hope you are not finding today tooooooooo hot (its 32c on my patio in Bergvliet) after the snow of New York!!!

  4. Sorry, left the "o" off "hello", so it says "Hell"! stupid...

  5. Just as I've been contemplating another trip to Australia, I read of your 14.5 hours' flight, and my blood ran cold.....

    But what could be better after a long flight than to be met by a smiling mum with a large flower! Enjoy your time being home.

  6. Glad you made it home safely and swiftly ( relatively). I am not a good flyer either, I feel your pain, er panic? Thaw out and enjoy. I'll just be sitting inside shivering waiting for the snowdrops to pop up!

  7. welcome home! are you here for a while? planning any exciting side trips?

  8. Ah, looks so GOOD!

    Do you mind if I put some of your photos from your picasa Cape Town 2009 album on my blog? I just did a post on Cape flora and it would be nice to show what is currently there. Your pics don't get anymore authentic! (I'll check these comments again in the next few days). Kuier lekker!

  9. I love the way your Mum waved an Agapanthus! I would love it if someone did that!

    I haven't long come back from Australia and the long flight is not something I envy. Films really do come in handy!


  10. The flight sounds rather pleasant. 14 hours seems crazy, but then seeing out the window, isn't it amazing to get there at all at this speed?

    I had to laugh at the thought of "cattle" eating beef because all the chicken was gone.

    I think the 2 hour LIRR trip to see my mother is long. Ha!

  11. what a sweet story with a wonderful ending!

  12. Bonus about not landing in Dakar - I remember flying SAA & stopping to refuel in Ilha do Sal en route from NYC and it was just the pits - you woke up, you could not get back to sleep & you were still only halfway home...

    I see you have a sparkly wine habint on planes too (see my previous comment!)

    And your mother actually brought the agapanthus! I think in future I shall encourage my friends to do the same when I land. Terrific!

  13. LOL, funny how even having traveled together, our recount of the flight varies by a few enjoyment degrees... Glad to have arrived, any way! :-)

  14. I made the same trip home just last month and was SO happy to learn of the shorter trip - it does make a difference! We made the usual stopover on the way back, though... Enjoy lovely CT!


Comments on posts older than 48 hours are moderated (for spam control) . Yours will be seen! Unless you are a troll. Serial trollers are banned.