Well, our last few days seemed to absolutely speed by and I'm going to make this entry mostly a picture blog.
In addition to Bruce, me, & Marietjie being at the house with her seven-year old twins, Charles and Anschu's other son (also named Charles) and his wife Tanya and their two boys, Charles III and Tian, also came to stay for a couple of days (from Johannesburg) so it was a lot of fun.
Bruce and the two Charles's went off for a long bike ride, so Anschu, Tanya, Marietjie & I got in some good visiting in their absence, although poor Marietjie is recovering from a tonsillectomy a few days ago. Her husband, Marais, is currently doing the gruelling 7-day Cape Epic mountain bike event which we watch nightly on the television - it's a big event.
Bruce and I are going to return to Johannesburg with Charles, Tanya, Marietjie and her kids on Sunday 3rd April, while Charles and Tanya's two boys will stay at the Farm with Anschu and Charles for a visit. We are going to go to Marietjie's home for one night and Marais will be home Sunday night, too. Bruce rode in the Himalayas with these four people (Charles, Tanya, Marais and Marietjie) last year where they became good friends.
In the afternoon, we had gone with Marietjie to the 'Woolworths' in a nearby mall to shop for food. Apparently, 'Woolies' is pretty high end here and the prices in the food department reflected that (although it was odd having to walk through 'Men's Underwear' when you come out of the food department with your purchases.
In preparation for Marais' return that evening, some other friends came around to the house to prepare dinner and a banner was hung outside the front door to welcome the Hero home. We had sparkling wine to celebrate but, after such an event, it was clear Marais was tired. On Monday 4th, Marietjie packed up a picnic and we walked into a nearby park to have lunch. It was very relaxing and just the thing, because Bruce and I were to be at the airport by 6pm for our flights home.
Yet again, we have been very, very fortunate in how welcoming our hosts have been and we thank them all: Charles and Anschu, Lucia and Andre, Charles and Tanya and Marietjie and Marais. It's been a wonderful trip - thanks to you!
Bruce's flight took him from Johannesburg via London to Vancouver and Nanaimo. Mine was from Johannesburg to Atlanta, Georgia, then to Seattle and on to Victoria (where I would pick up my car and drive up to Nanaimo). As we departed Johannesburg, the pilot welcomed us aboard the "longest-range aircraft in the world" (a 777) and wished us a pleasant flight on the "longest scheduled flight in the world" - 16 hours & 20 minutes in one hop! As it turned out, it was a remarkably good flight with more leg room than usual and very comfortable. The only issue I had with the trip was when, on arrival at Atlanta, the passengers were all told (NUMEROUS TIMES both on the plane and in the terminal!) that, whether or not Atlanta was your final destination you must pick up your checked baggage and take it through Security again. I had an hour and a half to get my next flight. I stood at the designated carousal and I waited, and I waited, and I waited - and STILL my bag did not come off the plane. Finally, with less than half an hour to go for my next flight, I asked a nearby baggage handler, who asked someone else and it turned out that I did NOT need to collect my bag as it was going straight on through to Canada! I cleared Security, dashed over to the Delta Airlines counter, asked what gate for my connection (along with a quick complaint that I now had less than 20 minutes to make the flight)! I was told it was at Terminal A (I arrived at Terminal E), so I had to go from one end to the other of one of the largest airports in the world. No-one at Delta thought to direct me to a train that could have taken me! They laconically pointed me to a sign saying 'Terminal A' and I started sprinting (lugging my carry-on baggage). OJ Simpson in his commercials had nothing on me as I flew past people, carts, baggage, etc.! It was a LONG run and I was totally winded when I got to Terminal A and found my gate. The Delta employee on the gate started in on me that they were just about to page me, when I said "Don't even begin - I have a complaint with Delta!". As I got on the plane they virtually slammed the door on my backside, but I was too puffed to move (my carry-on baggage was pretty heavy not to mention which I have been experiencing a pretty high blood pressure issue). A flight attendant sat me down at the door for a moment and gave me some water then I went and got my seat at the back of the plane and the plane departed for Seattle.
Bruce and I landed at our respective destinations on Vancouver Island within 30 minutes of each other having flown half way around the world on different routes. That's really quite incredible, although I didn't get home until several hours after him because of driving up from Victoria.