Well here we are in Africa once again, in Johannesburg the capital of South Africa to be exact, not in Chipata in Zambia as we expected. Why? It was raining at Heathrow and the subsequent delay (I kid you not!) meant that our usual nearly 3 hour slot on the ground here before getting our plane to Llongwe, was cut to one hour – from landing. You would have been proud of us guys! We ran one from one end of that airport to the other, cutting through every queue we could, only to get to the gate 10 mins too late. The following 3 hours were spent trying to find out 1) if there were any more flights to Llongwe today 2) were any seats available, and 3) if not what was Plan B? My final conversation with the poor lass at the BA transit desk – besieged by fellow travellers having missed their flights too – was, “Well what do YOU suggest?” “I don’t know madam,” came the reply, “I just do the transfer, I cannot issue new tickets.” That would be a transfer to nowhere then!! Plan P (we’d moved along fast by then!) was to exit the airport altogether to try and find the BA desk on the arrivals side who could hopefully actually help. We had no idea Jo’burg airport was that big! Exiting was a few miles I’m sure (on top of the run we’d already completed), then there was finding the ‘what happens now?’ BA desk, and then the ‘where is our luggage?’ desk and ‘if you’ve got it how doe we ensure it flies with us tomorrow?’. No one desk could give us the complete answer, even to the extent of having to back track on ourselves to find out, AND return to the airport later in the day. Telephones/digital anything communications????? T.I.A! This is Africa – welcome back!! Happily we were able to alert Stephen before he set out to collect us.
HOWEVER, here we are now in our very comfortable hotel care of BA, with ALL 4 very large suitcases full of stuff for the orphans (we just have carry-ons) that will accompany us to the airport tomorrow. One of us has managed to fit in a pedicure (you have to guess!!) whilst the other slept and soon we’re off to start on our anti-malarial quinine course (with gin and a slice of lemon attached) and dinner. We are thinking of hiring ourselves out as airport guides but in the meantime hold our breath as we anticipate presenting yesterday’s boarding cards for Jo’burg to Llongwe at the check-in desk tomorrow: we’re assured we don’t need to worry. The good thing is, wherever we’re sent we’ll be able to get there in double quick time!!