At last, time to head home. This has been an amazing trip and it is hard to believe we have actually done it!
There have been some bad times. The worst, of course, was losing our cameras, computer and passports in Arusha, Tanzania. All that, though, could be replaced except our photos - even though we backed them all up carefully, the thieves took all the accessories including every copy of every photo we had. And there were the continual bouts of the runs in Egypt until our stomachs hardened up and obtained a new and invincible set of gut flora (and we took some killer anti-biotics). And in any group of strangers thrown together, there are inevidable tensions which surface from time to time. Living so closely together for so long will make even the closest of family or friends tetchy, and as well, not everyone wants the same thing out of a trip like this.
But all that pales into insignificance when we consider the good times. Twelve amazingly different countries. Interesting people and places and cultures. Sleeping with a zillion stars above in the Nubian Desert. Looking out for elusive wild animals in the National Parks. Diving in crystal water in the Red Sea and Lake Malawi. Watching the sun set at the top of Mt Sinai. Trekking through the inky forest to see mountain gorillas. Paddling though water lilies and high reeds in the Okavango River with hippos about. White water rafting on the Nile. Walking through bush searching for rhinos. The list goes on.
But we still had to actually get home...
We had booked a cheap flight from Cape Town to Jo'burg on 1-Time Airlines. We know why it's called that now ... you'll only ever travel one time with them ...
All appeared to be going well. We were on the flight about an hour out of Cape Town with plenty of spare hours to connect with our Sydney flight. Then an anouncement: pressurisation problems, descending to 10,000 feet and returning to Cape Town!
Despite getting our bags off and badgering the airline to get us to Jo'burg as quickly as possible, there was no way we could be there in time for our flight to Sydney. We arrived at the Qantas desk after the flight was closed about 10 minutes before the plane took off. Once we found the Qantas staff in their office hidden away on the 3rd floor, they were incredibly helpful, re-listing us for the next day and ringing around to get us a room for the night. There are about 3000 rooms in hotels at the airport and not one available for the night! However they found us a room in a guest house not far from the airport with complimentary transfers, so we didn't have to bed down on the airport lounge seats for the night!
There are always some consolations and we got our first class seats for the journey home the next day - and the French Champagne is always welcome!
We thought there was some nice balance in being towed at the beginning of the trip and then at the end - well that was Symmetry no 1.
You might remember that when we arrived in Jordan, the main airport was fogged in, so Royal Jordanian landed at another airport and then promptly abandoned all the passengers there with no facilities or assistance! Symmetry no 2: we had aeroplane problems at the end of the trip as well.
So if things come in threes ... we started the trip in Amman and visited Petra in the first few days. We ended by staying in the Petra Guest House run by a young man from Amman! Only we didn't (thank goodness) get flat bread and a hard boiled egg for breakfast.
So here endeth the electronic chronicle on Sue and Russ's Big Trip from the top of Africa to the bottom. I hope you have enjoyed reading about our experiences and seeing some of the photos. One day, perhaps we can bore you silly with more tales and we might even put on a slide evening...