01 December 2008

Muli bwanji from Zambia: The Airport Cha-Cha

On Friday night, I boarded an overnight flight to London. The flight to London was really easy for me. Almost immediately after take-off, I put on my eyemask and ear plugs, took a valerian root cap and was dead to the world. I even missed dinner on the flight, and didn't wake up until I felt the plane start its decent into Heathrow. I felt pretty rested, and was definitely ready to move.

My plan for the day was to meet K at Paddington station, where we would shove off for a whirlwind tour of the key things to see in the city. With her advice, I boarded the Heathrow express, and it was sound. At Paddington station, I quickly found the statue of Paddington Bear as he is remembered for being "found" there by his family. Once K and I found each other, we rushed to the Tube and headed for the Theames where we saw Big Ben and the Tower, and the London Eye, which is just a giant Ferris Wheel. Considering my great fear of Ferris Wheels, I was more than happy to keep my distance.

Next Stop: Westminster Abbey

The line here was so long, that there was no way we'd be able to take a tour. I snapped a few shots of the architecture and details, thankful for my college gen eds-- ART 101 which helped me to identify the stylings, etc. From there, it was on to Buckinghap Palace as we chattered away about how unimpressive and stoic it felt. Actually, the building looked remarkably like every other government building in DC: Stone, neo-classical columns, and security out front. K mentioned that it's a great spot to people watch, and once again her tip didn't disappoint as we watched the tourists' lack of respect for the memorials, climbing all over them!!!

From there, we headed to Trafalgar Square and saw Nelson's Column, a memorial of a battle from a long time ago that remains in the in the English modern memory...ewkay. From there, we rushed around to find food, with almost no luck, missing the English "lunch hour" at all the pubs, so my hopes for a real eeeeenglish Fish and Chips lunch were dashed temporarily. We ended up at the Texas Embassy (yes it's a real place!) for some pretty respectable tex-mex offerings. K told me that normally in the UK you'd get Doritos and tomato sauce, and they'd call it chips and salsa. These were nothing like doritos and the salsa was quite respectable with a kick that I figured was probalby really hot to the English palette.

Unfortunately, after lunch, I was about 30 minutes behind schedule. We rushed back to the Tube, and luckily I managed to get the train I needed back to Paddington quickly. But I was nearly dashed when the Heathrow express train I was on was delayed outside the airport by about 20 minutes. If you're doing the math, that means I was nearly 1 hour later than I scheduled myself to be....I was making contingency plans in my head, and praying fiercely...Once at the airport train station I ran (yes RAN!) with my backpack on and laptop in hand all the way to security without stopping. Hey, a girl's gotta get her exercise, eh?! Thankfully, security was no problem for a vetran like me as I slipped out of my shoes, took off my jackets, and breezed through with no problems. It also helps that I didn't have to take my laptop out of the bag. Thank goodness the English security xrays don't have a problem with laptop bags like TSA in the States does. I got to my gate (nearly the very last on in Terminal 1) just as they started boarding....whew!
The flight to Johannesburg (Joburg) was 11 hours and I probably got 5 hours of sleep give or take. I decided I was going to like South African Airways when I found socks, an eyemask, and a toothbrush in a pack on my seat with a heavy blanket and pillow. After my toes nearly froze off on the flight to London, I was thankful. Little did I know that would be the last cold I would feel for a while. The flight was quite hot, but I wasn't complaining, despite having spent the second day in a row in the same clothes...I watched a movie and continued reading my book (Eclipse)

The Airport in Joburg was interesting...it was my third airport in as many days. I traveled for 36 hours in all before getting to Lusaka, and I was amused by the fact that the music at the airports was not your usual muzak like you'd find in an elevator. Nooooo, this was american hip hop music...and as I treked through the airport with my hand luggage I was practially dancing to the cha-cha slide, and laughing at myself for doing it, but I was amused!

By the time i got to Lusaka I was pretty well cooked. It was hot...really hot and I was in long sleeves and pants standing out like a sore thumb compared to all the tourists in their linen and sandals. It's hot here...but I'm thankful for a breeze that flows almost constantly. The people are friendly, and when I went to Mass last night, I don't think I've ever heard singing that was so beautiful in my life. The voices...the VOICES! That's all I can really say, since i have no other words for it...what a blessing it was to have been able to hear them, I can't wait until next Sunday!

It's late here and I"m going to sign off for now since I have to be at our office early tomorrow morning. I hope to be able to share some more pictures than the two I've posted here very soon...wish me luck with a faster Internet connection.

Goodnight, and love to you all.

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