Friday, December 28, 2012

African Adventures, part 1

We had an extremely stressful, restful, high intensity, beautiful and partly terrifying adventure between December 19 and 24.  Everything worked out, and if the parts we need arrive from Australia (!) we'll almost have our Nissan Patrol back in working order.

Okay, the adventure began with Peter leaving Houston on United Airlines to Heathrow December 18.  For some reason he was not given boarding passes for his next two legs on Ethiopian Airlines.  We arranged with AT&T to enable international texting and calls.  But, apparently there are jamming devices in Heathrow so Peter was not able to call or text to keep us informed.

With several requests for prayers to our friends around the world, we awaited word from him, as we were waiting for word on Meghan and Katie about to start their own journey, via Amsterdam.

We did get a quick call from Peter.  He had to stand in several lines at Addis Ababa airport, entrusted his claim numbers for luggage to a clerk, got on board, and was on his way to Lusaka.  Unfortunately, after he arrived we discovered that TSA or someone at the Houston baggage handling area stole 2 portable hard drives from his luggage.
On the road, rain and all!
In the meantime Tom, Mary and I were on the road early in the morning to drive south to Lusaka from Chingola.  We arrived, after having to pay a "fine" for speeding.  (We could not possibly have been going the 120 km/hr Tom was cited for.  After he asked the "right" question the "fine" was reduced from ridiculous to silly.  An Aussie who had been stopped at the same time only paid 1/5 of the price quoted to Tom.  After Tom finally asked what they would accept, he was told to pay the same amount. Hmmm... we suspect the officers in charge of this scam were accruing their Christmas bonuses early.)

Mary enjoying a hot chocolate at the Mint Cafe at Arcades Mall in Lusaka.
Entertainment at the Arcades Mall.

Anyway, once in Lusaka we knew that Peter's plane would arrive about 2:30.  So we found a shop to do the oil change, and filter changes.  Assured it would only take 2 hours, and it being 11:00 am, we walked across the road to eat lunch.  At least that was good!

Naturally, it wasn't true, and 5 hours later the oil and filter changes were completed.  Not without waiting, and waiting, and waiting ... always with assurances that it would only be another 30 minutes.

But, that wasn't the nail biting part.  Peter called to let us know he was on the plane to Lusaka.  So Tom told him to call as soon as they landed.  Peter did, about 1 hour early.  Curious.  He then went through immigration to purchase his tourist Visa, went to get his luggage, and then called Tom to ask if there should be signs that said "Zimbabwe".  Well, no son!!!
Proof that Peter visited at least the airport at Harari, Zimbabwe.  The result of far too many hours in the air, layovers, and confusion in Ethiopia!  

Tom told him to get back onto his plane asap.  Unfortunately the Zimbabwean Immigration officer had taken his seat stub.  Fortunately one of the flight attendants recognized him (remember all white people look the same) and let him back on board over the objection of another attendant.

As you can imagine, we were praying in earnest for Peter to be protected, and that he not get stranded in Harari, Zimbabwe!

He landed at the Lusaka airport, but then found out his phone would not work in Zambia.  Fortunately one of the baggage handlers let him call.  He had to wait about 2 hours, because the oil change was not completed.

Finally, finally, we arrived at the airport to pick him up.  It was just a bit exciting, for all of us!  We headed to our friends' home, stepped out to eat (Peter was famished.)  We filled the Patrol,  went back to their lovely home to rest up until the girls' arrived at midnight.
Full service stations mean that the attendant fills it ...

and then rocks the vehicle so they fit just that much more in.
Here is a photo of us, after getting everything loaded at the Lusaka Airport.  We then headed south toward Victoria Falls.  More in the next post.  Our internet has been out more than on, so please bear with us!  The rest of the trip has more twists and turns than you might imagine!

About 1:00 am, December 21, 2012 at the Lusaka, Zambia airport.

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