Friday, January 18, 2013

African Adventure, the end

But, not really.  However, we want you to know that we stayed that Sunday night with the Schultz family in Ndola.  Andy was quite insistent that we not attempt the road between Kitwe and Chingola in the dark.  I quite agreed, as it is unsafe in the daytime.  With the holidays, the likelihood of encountering drunk drivers is all too real.

Jill graciously shared their home, even with a few power outages.  They had family visiting from the States, and we know we put a dent in the food they had!  Tom and I headed to bed because of the early start we wanted the next morning.  Kate did the same.  Peter, Mary and Meghan stayed up and visited with Jill and their children.

Early the next morning we were reloaded and off to Chingola.  The traffic was light, and the weather was clear.  Made it home in time for Tom to get to work.  We rested a bit, went to the Christmas vigil Mass at 9:00 pm.  It was a very long Mass, and we heard traditional Christmas carols sung in Zambian fashion.

Afterward we stayed up for champagne, opened presents then went to sleep.  Leisurely Christmas Day.

All too soon we had to get Meghan and Kate back to Lusaka for their flight home.  With the Trol basically unroadworthy, we were stumped.  Fortunately we still had the business card for Moses, the taxi angel who rescued Tom, me and Mary when we were stranded at the Ndola airport when we first arrived in Zambia.

He drove out from Ndola and picked the girls up at 4 am.  They made it to the Ndola airport, flew to Lusaka, made their Kenyan Airways flight to Nairobi, KLM flight to Amsterdam, and then to Houston.  They arrived on Friday, thoroughly exhausted.

In the meantime we were still trying to get pool paint so Peter could brush, clean and paint our pool.  That didn't happen, because of various issues that had nothing to do with us or Peter.

We joined the golf club and all four of us played 9 holes before Peter headed back to the States.  Tom hunted down parts (as you read in his letter) and they arrived the same day Peter left to go back to the States.  Moses was once again our means of transport.  His service is expensive, but the up side is that he drives safely, has a well maintained van, and we can trust that he will do what he says when he says it will be done.  Those are golden points here in Zambia, and all too rare.

His adventure continued, unfortunately, and as a result we DO NOT recommend Ethiopian Airways.  But, Peter had plenty of opportunity to use his ingenuity, persuasion (sometimes even to the point of raising his voice, which is rare) and he succeeded in landing in Houston with his luggage.

His email to us from Addis Ababa airport:

Made it to Ethiopia, Mom Dad, Sorry about not calling you from Lusaka but the only person that would let me use their cell phone was asking for a hundred thousand and that wasn't going to fly with me. I got my check bag being sent to Heathrow London at the moment. I asked the guy that was checking me in at Lusaka but he was being an ass and wouldn't do it. I was able to ask someone here in Addis Ababa though and they said that I can just go up to the counter here when I have to check in and they should be able to get my bags to Houston since United is part of Star Alliance. However, if they cannot I am going to try again in London, since I will be checking in at a United desk there I should be able to show them my luggage ticket and they should be able to get in on the same flight with me. 

I had to pay $5 dollars for this hour of internet as there is no free stuff in the airport. I am making good time though with the flights and with my 4 hour layover here in Addis Ababa I have time to use it. 

Dad, the airport tax/fee/whatever in Ndola wasn't 58,000, it was 59,000. Just thought that you should know about that. I had plenty of money and was able to get enough food to eat at the airport in Lusaka. 

Oh yeah, the nice bulkhead seat that I was supposed to be booked for on my flight out of Lusaka with Ethiopian airlines was already taken by someone flying in from Zimbabwe, they had double book quite a few seats on the flight actually. Luckily enough there were extra seats near the back of the plane and I was allowed to sit in one of those. Of course though with the Rinaldi luck I had to have chosen the one seat that wouldn't recline and the tray table was broken to the point where I couldn't actually take any of the food. I was alright though as they only had fish, but the seat that was broken just had to be mine :(

The people in Addis Ababa are much more intelligent at the airport, i guess it also helps that it is set up like an actual airport. They are willing to actually listen to your question and give you an honest answer that is true and if they do not know the answer to a question they tell you up front that they do not know the answer. The good thing is that they will try and get someone that knows the answer or help you get to a place where you can get a clear answer. 
My phone is not working here in Ethiopia either so I can only think of two reasons, 
1) The international calling that Lizzy set up just ran out
2) Cell Phones just don't work abroad like this.

I will turn my phone on the moment I land in London, hopefully US numbers work there, but until then I will be out of contact with everyone after I send this email. If it works great, I will call everyone I can if it isn't something odd like 2am your time, but my experience so far is not leading me to be very hopeful with it.
I am really looking forward to get back into Texas, just because I know that my bed is there and a shower to use. Really looking forward to those two things. 

Oh yeah, before I forget, when I checked in at Lusaka the guy nearly threw away my yellow fever ID card. It was completely out of character for me but I blew up in his face. Maybe it's because how he had shined me on before with the check bag thing. They make the people we hate in the US look good actually. Do not worry though, I have my yellow fever card with me and it is in my passport so I am set there. I would certainly not have enjoyed being yelled at by TSA and getting shoved into a quarantine area especially since school starts on Monday for me. 
I love you all, please keep me in your prayers and pray that nothing bad happens for these final two flights I have to take. No screaming babies, no delays, a working seat, and hopefully a speedy trip across the London Hearthrow airport. 
Love you all.Peter

The rest of Peter's story is that his phone did not work in London.  The Ethiopian was a liar as well.  He made his flight at Heathrow (little over a 2 hour connection) and his bags did make it home with him.  Kate had an afternoon performance, and then picked him up.  He slept very little, and to top everything off, we heard yesterday that the pick-up wouldn't start.  After trying to jump it, twice, we advised him to get a new battery .. and are still waiting to see how that unfolds.

Now, back to Africa:

Tom took the Trol in to get the new tire removed from the ruined rim, and in the process one of the wheel bolts was sheared off.  We only had 6 new ones (and, we tried to find these locally, had a driver check in Kitwe .. and nothing).  

Working on the side that lost the tire.

The garage floor is the only flat, level place we had to work on.  And it is a tight squeeze!

Removing the brake on the right side.

Seating the new wheel studs.

Replacing the brake.  Being poor in Texas paid off, since Tom learned to do a lot of vehicle maintenance for ourselves.

You can see the tighter squeeze on the driver's side in the garage.  He's replacing the wheel.

Tightening those lug nuts.  Standard policy for us now is to check them once a week, and before each long drive.  In fact, after he had the tire/wheels swapped, drove slowly home (only two studs on one side) the lug nuts were loose!!!

In the meantime, we also had to get the Trol retitled in our name, a new fitness certificate (suspicions about where the woman we bought from got her handwritten certificate) and paid the road tax.  That took over 2 1/2 weeks!  Offices on vacation, underlings signing then the boss not accepting the signature making parts of the process begin again, going between this office to that office, back to the first office, etc.  Tom had a young driver from the company who did most of the leg work.  But, we now have a safe(r) Trol and can legally drive.  That means tomorrow (Saturday) we'll get to Kitwe and see if AutoWorld and/or the Nissan dealer have the brakes we need, and possibly more of the wheel studs and lug nuts.

We did locate a Patrol parts dealer in Australia.  However, they will not accept phone credit card orders for over $500, and they estimated the cost of shipping to be well over $250.  There are consultants located in Melbourne (where the dealer is) but they refused to carry they over because of past problems with customs here in Zambia.

While we are enjoying, for the most part, life here ... the reality of living in a third world country hits home all too quick when trying to just do the most mundane of things.

1 comment:

  1. Try SA you should get everything you need there......for a price.