Continuing from part 2 of the series of posts about traveling with Betsy and Mike…
To satisfy the anxious, anal participants in our group, we left for the Kasane airport early, about 12:30 pm to catch a 2:40 pm flight. The cab ride took all of 10 minutes. So we were in for a two hour wait. Then to make matters worse, it was announced that our flight was delayed by an hour making it a three hour wait. Our plan for a relaxing two hour layover in the Johannesburg airport with nice restaurants took a hit. The Kasane airport is small, with only a snack stand, so we entertained ourselves with people watching, reading, pacing and fidgeting. I spent time making multiple trips to the bathroom, dealing with a lingering upset stomach (Be glad I left that part out of the safari trip.)
Then as we waited, another announcement came – instead of going non-stop to Johannesburg; our flight was going to make a stop in Gaborone and would not arrive in Jo’burg until about 7 pm. We had a connecting flight to Maputo, Mozambique at 7:10pm. We were looking at 10 minutes to go through immigration and make it on to a flight on a different airlines — it was going to be impossible. Before we boarded our flight we expressed our concern about our connecting flight and Air Botswana staff took our connecting flight information and reassured us we would make it to Maputo.
Somewhere between 3:30 and 4, we finally boarded. Once airborne, the pilot announced the flight duration and told us we would be landing in Gabs in an hour or so. We learned once we got there, we would have to change planes to get on the Jo’burg flight. That flight was going to take over an hour. Our layover in Jo’burg diminished to nearly nothing and potentially in to the negative numbers. I’m not a worrier, so I just decided we would deal with missing our flight when it happened. We had a guest house reservation in Maputo, but hadn’t had to pay a deposit, so no money would be lost. I also knew there was a flight the next day to our final destination of Inhambane, because that was the flight we would catch in Maputo. I had chosen to make the overnight layover in Maputo rather than Jo’burg when I purchased the tickets.
The man I married is a worrier (now you know who one of the anal ones is), and he decided he needed to do something about this problem. When we landed in Gaborone and were being escorted to the Jo’burg plane, which was waiting on the tarmac, already boarded by the Gabs passengers; Marion grabbed one of the Air Botswana staff, gave her our four names and our Maputo flight information and pleaded with her to call ahead and help us make the Maputo flight.
Off we went. Our plane was going to land about the same time the Maputo flight was scheduled to depart. After touching down and hearing the usual, “don’t get out of your seatbelt until we tell you to” speech, the following announcement came. “Will passengers Mobley, Paulk and Hanna please indicate who you are – Air Botswana will escort you to your connection”. The Jo’burg airport is huge. It is THE international hub for all of southern Africa. You have to take a bus from one area to the next for flight connections. A nice lady from Air Botswana greeted us and handed us pre-printed LAM boarding passes as we got on the bus. She told us, “When we get to the international connecting flight terminal, we have to run, okay?” We all said okay, as we secured our heavy backpacks and curled our toes to clamp down on our flip-flops. The bus door opened and the race began. I again was quickly reminded of how out of shape I am. Feeling weak and a little dehydrated, plus carrying a 20 pound backpack, and worrying about sphincter control, didn’t help matters. I was falling behind and Marion graciously took my backpack so I could keep up. The Air Botswana lady led the way, using her gate pass card to take us through employee only areas for a short cut to the Maputo gate. Except she cut through one gate too soon, requiring us to back track a little. As we arrived at the gate, huffing and puffing, they announced the flight would board in 10 minutes. It had had a short delay in departure time, perhaps for us. Whew!
We arrived in Maputo after 9pm, relieved that our prearranged transportation to Residencial Palmeiros Guest House was patiently waiting. Given the hour, we decided to skip going out for dinner, live off of the airline food we’d eaten and called it a night.
After a good night’s sleep and a refreshing shower, we started the day with a wonderful Portuguese breakfast of tropical fruits and fresh squeezed juices, delicious fresh breads and pastries and hot black coffee. We dined in a lush green garden tucked inside the guest house grounds. Two friendly house cats kept us company. We had just enough time to take a quick walk around Maputo before heading back to the airport. We found the local market, full of fresh vegetables, fresh fish, and fresh cashews. My eyes were sparkling with excitement. Could it get any better? We are not in the dry desert of landlocked Botswana any more.