Greetings and Happy New Year from Johannesburg, South Africa!
After quite a few conversations with Delta as well as conversations between them and the ACM, I was allowed to board the flight to Atlanta, and the flight to Johannesburg, as well. Hip-hip-hooray! Now that I am in South Africa, no one cares a whit that I do not have a visa to stay in Botswana longer than 90 days, but Delta was certainly concerned. I hope that next year’s Director has a visa ahead of time, to satisfy U.S. American procedures. And thanks to the red-jacketed Delta representative who ultimately decided that “should have a visa” is different from “MUST have a visa” and let me leave Colorado. Thank goodness the computer screen said "should."
To add pula (blessings), I flew the entire 16 hours in a 3-seat row all by myself. I must have slept at least 10 hours. A father with very good humor boarded the plane with his partner and their young infant; to a round of applause he passed our earplugs to everyone seated nearby. Now that’s class. There were actually two families with young infants on the flight, and at customs, the South Africans insisted that the mothers with babies skip to the very front of the line. Again, how classy!
The airport in Joburg was lovely, with hardly any other flights in evidence. It was just me, the two young couples with infants, and the retirees, all on their dream safari vacations. Everything went perfectly except that my checked luggage did not arrive with me. The South African Delta sales representative was very impressed with the fact that the luggage contained all of my travel destinations, dates, and contact numbers and was also labeled properly with my jaunty red luggage tags. My bright orange luggage is rather striking, so I really could tell that it did not arrive. One of the nicest Delta employees teased me quite a bit, saying that I really should be more careful to have easily-identified luggage. And even though I was the very last DL200 passenger to leave the baggage area, Mr. Tia from the hotel had waited all that time and took me directly to the hotel.
Amanda stayed up all night New Year’s Eve and was ultimately able to ascertain that Delta believes that my luggage will arrive in Gaborone before I will, this morning at 10:30. It is already almost noon, so perhaps my luggage is already enjoying Setswana hospitality. Thank you Amanda. I promise I'll make it up to you!
The South African landscape visible as the flight lands is stunning – it looks like paradise.
Many pula to all of you for this new year.