• Nick

We made it to Africa (in the most amateurish way)…



“we travel where the wind blows us”

-some traveller, at some point



However, the mentality of travelling where the wind blows you is, in (our) reality rarely viable, and if you want to see the best places at the best time you’ll need to plan ahead. With this in mind, we have been planning this trip for the last 3 years: where we want to go, what we want to see and what we need to book.


This is also not the first time either of us has planned and executed an extended trip.


It therefore came as more than a mild disappointment when things went so outrageously wrong with our departure from the UK.


 

Our wretched story starts when we left the house. “Have we got the passports? Everything else we can do without...”. This is actually not the case because you can’t sell a car without a V5 - which we left in the filing cabinet…. (the Vauxhall Astra btw, not Brenda)


We entered Heathrow airport full of nervous excitement, strolled up to the check-in desk with 100 tonnes of luggage and proceeded to check in; however, things went downhill when we were asked for proof we were leaving South Africa before our 90 day visa would expire. We haven’t booked our flight home, which in any case is not for 7 months, and we have no hotel reservations outside of South Africa, so our only possible answer was no. This is, apparently, not the correct answer. Our pleas fell on def ears, and manager after senior manager was called to re-iterate the same thing, no proof, no boarding card, no flight.


Crazy as it sounds, if you haven’t got proof you’re leaving South Africa, then you can’t get on the plane to South Africa - we didn’t know this (and in our defence, nor does it mention this when you book a one way ticket to South Africa).


Virgin Atlantic’s solution? – we needed to buy a fully refundable one way ticket back to the UK, which we would then cancel once we get to South Africa. £3500 later (YES £3500 later) we were passing through security, where Sammy started messing around and got pinged and body searched, and into the departure lounge ready for our 11 hour overnight flight.


The flight went pretty well – in fact the boys were as good as gold. But the final insult came when we went to check-in to the flight from Johannesburg to Durban. We couldn’t see the flight on the departure board, which was weird, until it was noted that our flight left on the 28th Oct, a full 20 hours previously.












You see – a month ago Virgin postponed our flight by a day – which is not unusual these days. At this point we should have changed our connecting flights (which weren’t actually connected due to COVID (long story) ), and it was here that we managed our most epic fail – we forgot to change the flight from Johannesburg to Durban.


After numerous airline desks the stark reality of the situation became apparent - there were no seats available on any flights that day to Durban.


So there we were; having barely slept on the plane, with all our luggage, 2 very bored kids, and our decision making skills worn down by 3 hours stood in various queues, we made our biggest mistake yet and went for lunch at Nandos – the low point of this whole fiasco.


In the end we took the decision to hire a car and drive the 600km from Johannesburg to Durban. Leaving at 2pm this meant driving in the dark, thus breaking the first rule of driving in Africa.



However…


… the drive was staggering - the early wet season weather and ever changing light created one dramatic view after another all the way down, and despite the inconveniences of the last 24 hours we settled into our seats and smiled at the thought - its good to be back in Africa.



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