Well, Monday morning my friend Margaret and I begin our trek to Africa! We have been planning this trip for well over a year now and it seems surreal that it will all begin in such a short time. We will be going on an Overseas Adventure Travel trip to Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa. Including travel time, we will be gone for 25 days, 15 of which will be spent in tent camps in the African bush! Sounds rather primitive, I know, but let me assure there is a new word for this kind of trip. Google "Glamping" and you'll see what I mean. Our accommodations will be top notch all the way. For those of you who say they can't picture me roughing it in a tent, the pictures Google will produce will easily allow you to envision me in my version of roughing it! I've stayed in hotel rooms that are not as nice as these camps. We will be doing several safari drives each day in the National Parks and seeing Victoria Falls and Cape Town in the last part of the trip. There is even a "Walk with the Lions" adventure in Victoria Falls. We'll be with the lions from a captive breeding program who are being "trained" by the handlers to be wild...climbing trees, hunting and establishing a pride, who will be released to the wild in the protected park once the pride is established. I guess it's a controversial program, but since it is being done within the National Park, I understand their government condones it as an effort to boost the lion population which has been rapidly diminishing. I guess I'll learn more about it when we visit the program.
The flights there and back will be pretty brutal. We are renting a car at the Raleigh airport and driving to washing Dulles airport where we will catch a South African Airways flight to Johannesburg, with a stop in Dakar, Senegal to refuel. In all, the flight is going to take almost 16 hours. There will be a plethora of charter flights as well as scheduled air on British Airways within the countries. The return flight is a killer...close to 20 hours flying time as we head from Cape town to Johannesburg to Dakar and back to Dulles. Once we land we face about a 4-5 hour drive home. I'm definitely NOT looking forward to that part of it!
But once I get home, I will be able to claim my new kitty from the no kill shelter. I didn't blog about it, but last month, my older cat, Ashes, died. Sweetie has been a bit bereft so I began a search for an older male cat for us to incorporate into the family. I found a beautiful Orange and White Tabby cat who is probably 6-8 years old and is declawed. He came to the shelter just hours before the pound was going to put him down. He obviously belonged to somebody if he's declawed, but I guess they didn't look hard enough for him. At any rate the shelter is holding him for me till the day after I get home. I have a list of about 25 names I am going to try on him and see if he responds to a name he may have had in his other life. If he doesn't respond to any of them, I'm going to have to choose between Orange Herbert (you'll get it if you say it fast!) and call him "Herbie" or as my younger sister suggested (who had Ozzie and Harriet and Buzz & Woodie!), since I have Sweetie, "Spicy". We'll see what sticks.
I've been religious about going to Curves 5 days a week. I like the fact that I can go there every morning whenever I want to as long as I get there before 11:30am. the parks and rec schedule hemmed me in too much. I've built up a lot of stamina and earned a lot of fitness points in the process. I got measured yesterday and I lost 2.25 inches from my waist! That is an amazing feat! I am taking my resistance bands with me to Africa. Hopefully I'll have some afternoon time to work out a bit and try to maintain my muscle tone. Cape Town may have a Curves near the hotel. Hard to tell from the maps, but it would be kind of fun to hit one up so far away form home! I wonder what their music would be like and how they will say "Change stations now"! The whole trip will be an experience for sure.
I had to go into the American Airlines office, from which I retired, for a meeting of a group to which I still belong. Boy, I'm sure glad I'm not having to go through the throes of reorganization. Structure changes, pay and benefits cuts. It's not pretty there. So much uncertainty. I really feel sorry for the ones that are still working. I hope my airline emerges a stronger more competitive part of the industry. We had been a leader for so long it's hard to imagine us being second fiddle. I mean really, Charles Lindbergh actually flew for American! History making stuff there. Sad to see the decline. As a retiree getting only a 401K and no pension, the only thing I stand to lose is on the medical insurance front. I'll be 64 the day of that marathon flight from Africa, so it's just a matter of time before Medicare kicks in, so I'm not too terribly worried about myself, but my fellow workers are facing a whole lot of changes. I just hope they all land on their feet.
Well, enough musings. I've got bags to pack and organize. I'll see you all on the other side of Africa!
Zambia, and if SP has a flag for Botswana I could not find it!