After 3.5 years, I have returned to Zambia! Yay!
Yesterday I made my first of many trips to the international terminal of the Jo'burg airport. This led to a few noteworthy experiences:
(1) Even though I'm booked on the flight, they tell me at check-in that they are doing "everything they can" to ensure I'm on the flight. This means my pleasant request for an exit row is denied. I end up with a boarding pass in my hand and am happy to not be inconvenienced.
(2) Next its through security/passport handling. The security line I'm in conveniently deposits me into the Diplomat line. As I'm walking up to the window, the woman starts waving me away and saying "You must join the queue to your left." I then flash my Diplomatic passport and the next two minutes result in about 101 apologies from this woman for mistaking my Diplomat status. Her last comment to me: "Can you get me a job at your Embassy?" Hmmm.
(3) As I am boarding the plane, the ticket handler scrutinizes my boarding pass. Next thing I know he's taking a pen and scratching up my boarding pass. He then hands it to me and says "2D." HECK YES! AN UPGRADE!!! I don't know why or how (I'm guessing my miles status on either Delta or South African air) but I'm relieved.
Ah, business class. I love upgrades. I love them even more on South African air, with their large cushy seats and attentive service. I enjoyed champagne and a fabulous grilled fish meal with - real silverware! Will has always thought it was lame that they took real silverware off the airlines - its how the passengers of Flight 93 was brought down in Pennsylvania! It was nice to have such a comfortable flight and be fed so well.
Our arrival in Lusaka was fabulous. Again, I breezed through passport control with my Diplomat status - what a bonus! Our luggage arrived quickly and we met up with our driver. In 3.5 years, Lusaka has changed A LOT. Mostly it appears that they've added a bunch of new restaurants and stores. All in all, its nice!
The hotel I am staying at has also changed dramatically. When I stayed here before, my room was a throwback to the 1970s, complete with a very dated photo of a giraffe and slow dial-up Internet. Now my room is resplendent in muted beige and blue with wireless internet, a flat screen TV (with movie and TV show channels! I'm watching Samantha Who right now!), and a cushy bed with fantastic sheets. Even the menu has radically changed in the hotel.
Tomorrow I'm headed to Livingstone (read: Victoria Falls) to meet with a few partners, including one brand new partner so that's exciting. We should have enough time to go see the Falls - keep your fingers crossed for good weather. Its rainy season so its going to be really different seeing the falls now then when I saw them in December. Yes, I'll take pictures if its not too wet!