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55 Hours Later…

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Well, I am in Ndola. Between my last blog post and now, I have lived a comedy of travel errors, so saying that I’m in Ndola feels much more like an accomplishment than I would normally think. The following (very long) post will read a bit like a choose-your-own-adventure novel in which you choose every single thing to go wrong; I hope you get a kick out of it! 🙂

After the delayed flight to London, I had a nice long layover to rest up, read and get ready for my next few flights. I boarded the plane for Johannesburg, and we ended up waiting for an hour and a half at the gate because of a medical issue for one of the passengers. This wouldn’t have been the worst thing except that the air conditioning on the plane was broken so we hundreds of passengers were basically melting from the 85-90 degree heat and increasingly unpleasant stench of body odor. Luckily, I was being “entertained” by the two German boys in the row in front of me who saw this as a chance to practice their armpit fart-noise-making skills.

With the delay, I arrived in Joburg 40 minutes before my flight to Lusaka was scheduled to depart. I ran the absurdly long way to the transfer desk to see if I could still make my original flight but missed the allowable check-in time by a few minutes. I then spent over two hours at the transfer desk waiting for my new ticket. I’m still a little baffled by why it took so long.

So, still having a bit of time on my hands, I got on the internet and tried to get in touch with Charles and Margaret Mumba, our partner directors, to let them know that I wasn’t going to make it to Ndola when they would be expecting me to because my flight to Lusaka wouldn’t make it in time for me to make my flight to Ndola. I managed to reach Margaret by calling her through Gmail and an international calling card and felt a little bit better that at least someone in Zambia knew what was going on.

Finally, I was on my way to Lusaka. As we reached the city, our pilot said we’d be arriving around 6:05PM, possibly enough time for me to make the 7PM flight to Ndola, the last one of the night. Feeling like my luck might have changed, I had my hopes slowly deflated as we were placed in a holding pattern over Lusaka for 45 minutes. (I later found out this was because the President was flying in, which was exciting, but maybe not exciting enough to make up for another travel hiccup.)

I arrived in Lusaka, went through customs and waited for my bags. Alas, they never arrived. A bit delirious at this point, I filed my lost baggage claim and was told my bags would arrive in about two hours on the next flight from Joburg. My only consolation came when I saw Charles waiting outside for me, and I felt a huge sense of relief that I wasn’t going to have to ask random airport staff if I could borrow their phones to call Charles.

It felt really good to see a familiar face, and Charles soon took me to a local lodge to get a shower and some rest before I’d have to return to the airport the next morning at 7AM to claim my bags and try to get on a flight to Ndola. I can’t tell you how absurdly good it felt to take a hot shower (albeit using the tiny bar of hand soap the lodge provided) and climb into a warm bed, even if I did have to wash my hair with a bar of soap and put back on the clothes I’d already been wearing for two days.

Anyhow, my bags did indeed arrive, and I managed to buy the last seat on an 11AM flight to Ndola. Finally, after over 55 hours of traveling, I made it to my destination!

Despite the highly unusual craziness of the past two days, I am appreciative of the good things that have happened in that time. I will leave you with the two things I am most grateful for:

1.Amazing partner directors who, with only the information from an email and very short, scratchy phone call, managed to find me in the madness of this crazy travel experience

2. The foresight to pack an extra pair of underwear and socks in my carry-on 🙂

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