Thursday, April 9, 2009


Sorry folks. I am around. I mean to write, I really really do, but things have been a bit hectic lately with traveling and life, so here!

Quick Updates on Life
  • We've been married over 10 months and lived here over 9 months. TIME FLIES.
  • Will heads back to the states this weekend for Land's wedding! Yay!
  • We head veryveryvery soon to Ireland and London and CAN'T WAIT. If you've been, give us tips!
  • Delta now runs a flight straight from Atlanta to Jo'burg - no more 16 hour flight! Check it out - prices are FALLING.
  • One major life goal has been to make a spicy meatball. Consider that one checked off the list as DONE. YAY!
  • I finished the Twilight series and watched Twilight. Hmmm. I thought the first book was good but by the time I got to the 4th... wow. Where did we veer off course in that saga? I could never have predicted the 4th book after reading the 1st... and I gotta say, when I finished the 4th, I just said, "Really?" I also was not a huge fan of the movie. Let-down city.
  • Muddy will run over 3 miles when dragged on a leash by his loving momma.
  • Me = huge fan of Susan Boyle. Huge. Happy tears, especially at her saying that nothing will change (i.e. no makeover, etc.) except that she won't be lonely anymore. Aw!
  • Mom successfully mailed pickles and monterey jack cheese from the states - yay mom!
And country updates...

My first impression of Zimbabwe? A giant gold-framed photo of Robert Mugabe staring down at me as I enter the airport. Walking 20 more steps, there's another... walking 20 more steps, there's another... and so on and so on and so on. Its clear - I'm officially in Zimbabwe.

As I exited the airport, I wasn't sure what would come next. Would I see the devastation I saw on CNN - trash filled streets, skeletons of people, dirty water? Surprisingly I saw what looks like my adoptive home for the past 9 months - it looks a lot like South Africa, except for even more trees - crazy huh? As I drove around, I took pictures of things on the side of the road. Next thing I knew I was in downtown Harare, surrounded by skyscrapers, clean streets, and palm trees. Hmmm. Not the Harare I saw on CNN at all!

All in all, people were friendly, I found lunch for under $5, and even though my room had no a/c, I was very comfortable and safe. I'd happily return to Harare, despite all the issues that it has.

Before heading to Angola, I heard horror stories about how awful the country is and how Luanda is a dump that is best avoided. I expected the worst - much like I thought Zimbabwe was going to be in my head.

Note to my future self: travel to Angola is long, hot, and arduous. I woke up at 4:00am to be ready to be driven to the airport at 4:30 in order to make my 7:45am flight. We get to the airport only to find - the stupid terminals don't open before 6:30am. This means standing in line at the boring airport just waiting. People coming up to the terminal, acting like they will open, only to run away again. sigh. Not good for my patience. Our layover in Namibia was fine, but just frustrating that we weren't on a direct flight. My patience was almost all used up and then...

It was time to board the flight to Angola. First, they load people from either side of the plane which would be fine if they were checking tickets, except they weren't. People sitting in the front of the plane loaded the back of the plane and vice versa. The aisles on this tiny plane were just not wide enough for people to push through. Second, they took my carry-on bag, which really isn't that huge. I gave it to them thinking no big deal. I get on board and notice practically everyone is carrying 3 bags, if not more. One guy was carrying a huge duffel bag AND A GUITAR... and they took my little suitcase? People must know something I don't. I get over it, settle in, and relax on the way into Luanda.

We land. My suitcase isn't waiting at the bottom of my steps like it should be. I instantly worry as it contains my laptop, makeup, change of clothes, etc. Everything I need for the next two weeks in case my luggage is lost. I get on the people mover to go to the check-in... and O.M.G. CHAOS!

I've never seen such a thing. The passport control was like one mass of 200 people just waiting to get through. No lines, no papers to fill out, nothing. If/when I go back to Angola, I am either taking a good book and snack and waiting for the crowd to die down in the back of passport control or I will find someone to give me diplomatic preference. It took me 2 HOURS to get through passport control. Yowsa. By the way, did I mention there's no A/C in the airport? So yes, I just sweated in the 100 degree heat of the room waiting to get through... YUCK!

With my patience worn, I slip through customs in a mad search of my carry-on bag which has been separated from me for over 2 hours now. I round the corner and then...


This is where your luggage goes to die. If you've ever lost a bag, I guarantee you its in Luanda. No conveyer belts were working and luggage, boxes, and random items were strewn through a massive room. What was definitely absent was a place where all luggage stowed underneath the plane was placed. I about burst into tears. I found someone who worked at the airport, explained in broken spanish that I lost my luggage and next thing I know, I am taken into a back room where I show my luggage receipt. Then I am shoved into this incredible warehouse of... LUGGAGE. Black suitcases upon black suitcases upon black suitcases, stacked straight to the ceiling. I'm being yelled at in Portuguese as I realize... I will never find this bag if I am expected to sort through this mess. I breeze past the airport security in search of Dyad.

As I leave the room, I spot it! There, wedged in between a conveyor belt and wall - my carry-on bag! I run across the conveyor belt (there goes being conspicuous) and retrieve the bag, so happy to find it - and immediately spot my other bag.

Blood pressure drops. Life is fine.

Dyad and I manage to find our driver in the chaos, to skip some crazy search on the way out, and make it to the hotel. All in all, it took over 12 hours to get to the hotel after getting in the car this morning. Crazy!

Blessedly, the hotel was comfortable - clean sheets, comfy bed, A/C, internet, hot water. Not the nicest place I've ever stayed but it was comfortable and clean and after the long journey, it was a blessed respite. The only bad thing? It costs $30+ for a plate of spaghetti with meat sauce. The dinner buffet is $55. A hamburger with fries is $20. Angola is EXPENSIVE.

I ended up leaving Angola early as the Pope was coming and the entire city was shutting down. I luckily made it out of Angola without being strip-searched and without ordering the $5 grilled cheese and ham sandwich, the only food offered in the Angola airport where I was forced to wait over 6 hours for my flight.

Windhoek is quite mountainous - I was surprised. I wasn't thinking sand dunes like the western part of Namibia, but I wasn't thinking mountains. Beautiful! Namibia I workedworkedworked. I really didn't go out very much. My hotel was located downtown and it was very nice. It was within walking distance of some great restaurants, which made it nice to get outside at night after being in the office all day. Windhoek reminded me a lot of Pretoria. I hope to get back to Namibia and see more of the countryside...

Botswana is... well, at least in Gaborone... there's not a lot. Its flat and its nice enough, but its not as nice as Pretoria or Harare, I think. My trip to Botswana seemed really quick - I'm not sure why. My hotel was really great and there was an uber-fancy restaurant in the hotel that I enjoyed every night with my Twilight book. Going to Gaborone only made me want to get out in a car and drive to see more of the country. I'll be back. Its true.

My one interesting story from Botswana is that a fight broke out on my plane! A French guy pushed a flight attendant all over a bag. So silly. However, the French guy wasn't ejected from the flight - he just got counseled loud enough so we could all hear (and he grumbled the whole 35 minute flight to Joburg).

I'm currently in Malawi - more details to come later. Its really lush and beautiful here with mountains off in the distance. The landscape reminds me a teensy bit of Uganda. I'm not here for very long and most likely won't see much, but I'll report back on anything interesting.