Monday, August 2, 2010

Pictures of Angola So Far...

Off Like a Herd of Turtles Part 2

June 2nd-Day Three

Location: Somewhere over the Atlantic-Dakar-Johannesburg

The plane landed in Dakar at 2am our time and 5 or 6 local time. The now sleepy children and their mother got off and some other adults that were not nearly as entertaining took their places and the journey continued.

We were given breakfast about an hour after we took off from Dakar and after breakfast, Sara and I were both able to sleep a little.

The plane landed at 4:47pm South African time and our flight to go on to Windhoek was to take off at 5:45pm. It took awhile for us to get to the gate and being at the back of the plane meant that we had a ways to go in a short amount of time. We grabbed our stuff and got off as quickly as we could. Due ot the fact that we were technically in transit we had to go through the transit line which only had one person working it stamping passports with a transit stamp and then you have to go and get in the security line and get another stamp that says that you are no longer in transit. However by the time we got through both the lady checking boarding passes looked at ours and told us that our flight was already boarding and there was no way that we were going to make it. She told us to go stand in the SAA ticket line in the transit lobby.

So we got back in line and waited and waited. We finally got to the front of the line and got rebooked on a flight the next morning at 6:05 which would mean getting to the airport very early to check in because he couldn’t print our boarding passes until the next morning. He told us to be there right at 5:00 because that was when their desk opened and the flight was going to start boarding at 5:35. Sara and I went and got a room at the airport hotel, and relaxed and got a little bit of sleep before it was time to go stand in line again.

Day Four-June 3rd

Location: Johannesburg-Windhoek

We got to the SAA ticket counter at 4:55 just to be sure that we were not going to be late and it would give us plenty of time to get our boarding passes and get to the gate. However, the SAA people did not get to their desks until 5:10 and only one lady was working and she was working on the business class passengers. Finally at 5:25 Sara and I were called up to the desk and printed our boarding passes and told to go immediately to the gate because there wasn’t much time. (Really? Like we didn’t know)

We got to the gate 2 minutes before the bus was loaded to go out to the plane.

The rest of the trip went very well apart from the fact that our bags did not make it on our flight but they did come on the next one and they were actually delivered right to the guest house where we were staying.

The rest of the day is pretty much a blur and kind of boring. We lazed around and did not do much of anything. My uncle and his son drove down from Angola to pick us up and they arrived that evening after driving for 18 hours. We all turned in pretty early because we knew the next day was going to be VERY busy.

Day Five-June 4th

Location: Windhoek

We all got up early and Uncle Stirling had a quick breakfast and then went to go and drop one of the Landrover Defenders at the off-road workshop to have some work done on it so that we could drive it to Angola on Sunday. While he was out with the car, I called the airline to see if Tiko had arrived at 5am like he was supposed to. The conversation went something like this…

Me: Good morning, I was just calling to see if my dog has arrived from Frankfurt on the flight this morning?

Man on the line: Is this Miss. Helena?

Me: Yes it is.

Man on the line: Yes he is here and he looks very sad and neglected. You need to come and get him immediately.

Me: Oh okay. I will be there as soon as I can. Is all his paperwork in order?

Man on the line: Yes, yes, everything is in order. You need to come quickly, he is very sad. I have been trying to play with him and talk to him but he is very sad.

Me: Okay. Thank you so much. I will be there very soon. Thank you.

So as soon as Uncle Stirling got back we drove out to the airport which is a thirty to forty-five minute drive one way. We went to the office and sure enough, as soon as he heard our voices he started crying and barking. Everyone there was very nice and we got through the paperwork quite quickly considering they had to go and pick get one form from another part of the airport. They customs lady that cleared us had actually gone to university at Campbell University in North Carolina so she knew where Greensboro and Raleigh were. So we had a nice conversation with her and we were very thankful that the Lord put her in our path because I think that helped speed us through the process although all his papers were in order and I had about three copies of everything. Tiko was VERY HAPPY to see us!

After picking Tiko up we went back to Windhoek and Uncle Stirling dropped us off at the guest house and he had to run out and do more errands. At 1:30, Uncle Stirling and Jeff went off to go and get Daniel and his friends from the airport. They arrived with no problems and then Uncle Stirling and I went to go fetch the Landrover that he had dropped off at the shop earlier because it was ready.

That night we all went out to a restaurant called Joe’s Beerhouse. They serve the best game meat for a really good price and it is one of those places that is really cool to look around so you go for the experience as much as the food. We all had a fun time and I don’t think that we frightened the guys too much.

Day Six-June 5th

Location: Windhoek

We spent Saturday running around Windhoek taking care of errands for all of us. Uncle Stirling had to buy things at a couple of different places around town and the boys had to get their bus tickets for South Africa and Sara and I had to get a few household items for Angola.

We somehow managed to get it all done and get the car all packed and ready to go by 9:00pm. Daniel and his friends wanted us to take their big suitcases so they would only have their backpacks in South Africa. Both cars were packed pretty high but we did manage to get it all in. We all turned in early because we were going to be up at four to leave by 4:30.

Day Seven-June 6th

Location: Windhoek, Namibia-Tchincombe Ranch, Angola

Four-thirty-five am found us in the cars and on our way out of Windhoek heading north. The roads on in Namibia are very good paved roads so apart from driving on the left side of the road the driving was pretty easy although both Uncle Stir and I both were very, very tired and we kept having to stop every couple of hours to stretch and wake up a little.

We finally made it to the border around 3pm and were across by 4ish. Which is very good time by the way. The border post that we went through is one that is kind of out in the middle of nowhere but it makes it easier because there is less of a crowd and Uncle Stir knows most of the people that work there.

The roads/tracks through the bush on the Angolan side were more of a challenge to drive. We finally reached the ranch around midnight after stopping for a quick bite to eat and another stretch break although it was easier to stay awake! There were a couple of times that I was pretty sure that there wasn’t a real road and that Uncle Stir was just driving blind.

We finally got to the ranch and got some dinner and then on to bed.

Day Eight-June 7

Location: Tchincombe Ranch

Sara and I woke up late and showered and headed over to Aunty Donna’s kitchen for a cup of coffee and lunch in an hour. We had a lovely lunch and a very restful afternoon just hanging out and visiting with cousins and friends. Sara and I went on a walk with our 10 year old cousin Meghan and we helped her plan out her play “town”. Then we got back to the house and helped with dinner and found out what the plan for the next day was.

The plan it turned out was to drive in convoy with Uncle Stir again to Lubango so that he could fix Mom’s Landrover Discovery so that I would have a car to drive.

That evening we hung out with the cousins and watched Star Trek and basically got packed up and ready to go again. Breakfast was planned for 6:45 so that we could leave by 8ish. Sara and I were both pretty tired from the trip still and decided to head over to bed relatively early. (we stayed in another house about a 1km down the road.)

Day Nine- June 8

Location: Tchincombe Ranch-Lubango

Sara and I arrived for breakfast at 6:50 and everyone had already started (when they say 6:45 they really mean 6:45). After breakfast Aunty Donna typed up a document saying that I was allowed to drive their car, just in case I was stopped by the police. We loaded up the car and off we went with Uncle Stir leading the way. It was a pretty uneventful trip. The off road part wasn’t nearly as bad as it had been coming up from the border. We did have to go through a control where the authorities were checking passports and making sure that everyone has their documents. Uncle Stir was in front and I could see that he was gesturing towards our car and making sure that they knew that we were with him. One police man came over and asked for our documentation. We handed him our passports and just then the other policeman waved Uncle Stir through and told us to go as well. He gave us back our documents and off we went. From there it was only another 45 minutes to an hour until the city. When we got to the city traffic was crazy, which is the normal state of events now. I stayed right behind Uncle Stir so that I wouldn’t get lost and so that I could see how he drove in a place where the driving rules are slightly different from what I am used to.

We arrived at Mitcha right before lunch. We unloaded and unpacked and decided to spend the rest of the day visiting and not doing much of anything. It was so nice to finally be here and realize that this is now home.