Friday, June 25, 2010
South Africa Adventure. Part 8.
Johannesburg airport. Maybe it's me. No, its definitely me. It all started two weeks ago yesterday. I arrived at the Atlanta airport to catch my standalone domestic flight from Atlanta-hatsfield airport to JFK international in New York. Delta's policy (sarcastic "appaaarently") is that you have to check in no less than 45 minutes before the departure time. Lauren and I made it up to the gate (drum-roll) 40 minutes before take off. Yoink, no flight. They could put me on a later flight, but it would get me into New York too late to catch my other, separate Emirates flight to Port Elizabeth via Dubai. So, new plan. I canceled my missed flight and booked another ticket, for a substantial amount more, from Atlanta to Johannesburg and back. Bam, got it. It was a Delta run, KLM (Dutch) and South African Airways operated flight. I got to Joburg no problem, easy enough. Trip was great (see other updates,) had a great time, no transportation woes whatsoever. Then came the day, the time to get back home. I show up to the Johannesburg airport, three hours early, bags packed, ready to go. As I'm waiting in the SAA "queue," a representative comes up and asks to see my passport. "Fair enough, here you go," I replied as I pulled it from my pocket. "Very well," she said in a thick Zulu accent. "And your transport visa?" confounded look. "Come again." (Sacrastic) Apaaarently, to get into Nigeria, where my flight was due to switch planes, U.S. citizens, which I am, have to have a transport visa. It's the only country in the world that requires permission to hang out in their airport for two hours. I had no idea. So, off I went to talk to Delta people. I had run into this pickle at the same time as another gentleman had. This gentleman, as it turns out, was none other than the father of Ricardo Clark. Ricardo Clark is a bench player for the U.S. soccer team that you all have been hearing so much about. Small world. So, together we made the cross-airport trek to find the Delta window to yell at them or something. Turns out, the Delta window was closed for another three hours. The good news was that there was a group of ten or so American folks that were standing around in the same quandry. Collectively, we strategized through options and phone calls and internet searches. With no conclusions made, besides collective disgust, the Delta window opened and we all got the same answer; every flight to anywhere in the world is booked. Delta had no open seats to anywhere in the world. I was dumbfounded (and skeptical.) The guy switched all of our flights, and there are ten of us on standby for a flight in 3 1/2 hours, then the following day and so on. Hopefully, there will be some serious openings to get back home. In the meantime, I'm stringing together internet searches (at $7/hour for airtime) trying like mad to find some affordable option to get home. After I got my standby ticket, waiting in line, I realized how I hadn't said a word of prayer throughout any of this. So, I asked Jesus to get me home. I'm due to be in Belize in 4 days, and very much trusting that it's going to happen. However it ends up happening, who's to say. For now, I'm waiting in the Johannesburg airport, expecting a miracle. I guess I've lost my touch for international travel. Maybe the four year international draught has got me a bit rusty. But Jesus is in control. It's all gone down the way it has for some reason or another. Either way, America, here I come. Eventually.