Let me start out saying this will be the longest post I ever do. So if you make it through, that is great. If not, I don’t blame you. Pictures will be coming soon.
It began with a 3am drive to the Atlanta airport and not knowing how Char (the cat) will do on what would turn out to be a 31-hour trip half way around the world! We got to the Atlanta airport for check-in. Paperwork was checked and cleared for our (Char and mine) four hour flight to Washington DC. The flight went off without a hitch. Got to Washington DC on time and went to check in for the longest flight of the day (13.5 hours) on Ethiopia Air. We lucked out here. First, the plane is nice and clean and looked to be fairly new. But, the interior upholstery choices made me feel like I was in the sixties and the louder than normal music was played during takeoff and landing. Comfortable, but not my style. Second, Char and I got a seat with no one else on either side. Score! I spread out and took up all three seats before anyone could move over and take my bed away. For the entire flight I was able to lay down and keep a comforting hand on Char. I felt bad for a few minutes that I was so comfortable but that must have passed pretty quickly as I woke myself up from snoring. Oops. Sorry!
We landed at Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and this airport is an experience I would suggest to anyone who enjoys trying to figure things out. This is like no airport I have ever been to and not for a wearied traveler. If you want more details just ask. Our next (and last) flight to Zambia was delayed for an hour. There was no internet access in the airport so I was out of contact with people since Washington DC.
Once off the plane in Lusaka, it was a nice sunny day. Hotter than expected and I started to sweat immediately. I made my way across the tarmac to immigration and customs. For those who don’t know I was coming to Zambia with Kathy. She took a 2-year post here. Unfortunately we were not able to travel together and she was to arrive about nine hours after me. She had arranged for the Embassy and our social sponsors to take care of me in the meantime. Well, let me tell you, they treat the diplomats great and even though I am not one, they also welcomed and treated me wonderful. I was met by an Embassy employee named Ernest who was a fun and happy man. He took my passport and was at the immigration desk before me. By the time I got to the desk, all I had to do was pay for my visa and away we went. Now that’s the way to travel. Next, Ernest took Char’s health certificate and import permit and Char herself to another person for a quick stamp and we were done! Next, we waited for my luggage which all arrived.
We headed to the car to go to the Kathy’s house. So it’s Africa and I was not expecting much. A roof that doesn’t leak, a toilet, and fingers crossed, an air conditioner. We pulled up to the gate (all Embassy homes are walled off and gated) and the house looked amazing! The driver beeped the horn and our security guard opened up the gate and let us into the driveway. WOW. To my delight, it is a newly built 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath with all the amenities. I introduced myself to the guard whose name was Aswell. Next we went into the house and Char couldn’t wait to get out her travel cage and stretch her legs. She loves her new house and it is her house! The queen has arrived. Ron (one of our social sponsors) asked if I wanted to grab a bite to eat and I said I just wanted a shower. He understood and told me they had put some provisions in the fridge so we wouldn’t have to worry about food for a few days. Thanks Ron and Iris (Ron’s wife)! Kat’s flight would arrive about 9 hours later so Ernest said he could pick me up to take me to the airport to meet her. Why not, I had 9 hours to get ready. The first thing I did was jump in the shower. Wow, I needed that. Once rejuvenated, I started to unpack and reorganized the kitchen (I’m always right) and even got in a much needed nap.
A few hours later, I was back in the airport with Ernest, Ron, and Iris waiting for Kat to arrive. She came around the corner and was surprised to see me. She had people get ahold of her during her layover in South Africa and heard that I may have missed my flight in Ethiopia! Little did I know that according to an online flight tracker, my 2nd flight (DC to Ethiopia) had been delayed for four hours which would have met that I would have missed my final leg from Ethiopia to Zambia and the pet import permit for Char would have expired by the time I got to my final destination. Kat had the two hour flight from South Africa to Zambia to worry that I was stuck on in Ethiopia with expired pet paperwork. Fortunately, the flight tracker was wrong and I had not missed my flight and all was well with Char and me. Once I heard that people were concerned, I tried calling from Iris’s phone but it wouldn’t go through. Sorry Mom. To all who were worried and made calls, thank you! I’ll have a phone tomorrow! 🙂