October 11, 2005

South Africa FlagToday we could actually sleep in if we wanted to. However we got up at 8 am and went downstairs for breakfast. We had earlier discussed with Peter, Anja, and Christian the idea of walking to the Cresta Mall to do last-minute shopping, so we decided to leave at 9:30 am. After breakfast we organized our packs, then took them downstairs to the back room where they would be stored until we left.

The walk to the mall took about 25 minutes, going past offices and car dealerships and liquor stores. We found it to be much like any mall at home, except it had numerous restaurants (not fast-food) in it. Not much appealed to us but Rosemary bought some socks with animals on them and a necklace, and Paul bought a CD of African nature sounds. Christian managed to find a CD of drum music that he was pleased with. We sat in a coffee shop for a while and had rooibos tea (Paul), hot chocolate (Rosemary), and muffins. After that we walked back up the hill to the Inn.

Now came the long wait until the shuttle to the airport departed. By this time it was about noon. We bought some drinks, read our books, chatted to the others, and generally relaxed. At 2 pm we settled our bill and then sat down to wait some more. We couldn’t stop looking at our watches; when it was about 3:30 pm we got our packs and went out front. All seven of us who were scheduled to go on the 4 pm airport shuttle were there, so we all got on and it left early.

The trip to the airport took about 45 minutes, and both of us agreed that despite the cost it was still probably better than going by taxi. Upon arrival we said our goodbyes to the others, then tried to find the KLM gate. However it didn’t open until 5:30 pm, so we had to stand in line waiting until then.

Our checked bags were only 12 kg each, well under the limit, but the things we wanted to carry onboard, like cameras and souvenirs we didn’t trust the baggage handlers with, were considerably over the 10 kg limit. And we were supposed to have only one carry-on. But luckily for us the flight was not full so the agent let us get away with it. Then we carried on through immigration; yesterday we had been told that the agents were on strike, but today they didn’t seem to be.

Our flight was scheduled to leave from Gate 4, but not for several hours. When we went there we found André and Diane, whose flight was leaving from that same gate two hours before ours. We chatted with them until they boarded, then went for a walk to check out eating places. In our wanderings we came across Christian, so we chatted with him a bit as well. Finally we found a coffee place and bought two double chocolate muffins and two chocolate chip twists. Both were really good, but probably not the most nutritious of things!

Finally our boarding time, 10 pm, came around, and we boarded the plane. At last we were really on the way home, although we weren’t really looking forward to 20 hours of flying. After the plane took off they served us dinner, even though it was midnight, and then they let us sleep the rest of the length of Africa.

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