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With my time in Zambia over, I headed off to France.

Of course this is much easier to say than to do. My first flight was just after 1 PM, so the cab picked me up at 11 (the Livingstone Airport is quite tiny so this was more than enough time).

After a short flight to Johannesburg, I had about a 7 hour layover. Even with lounge access this is a long time, but with a guitar in tow it would have been difficult to head into the city, plus the airport is not really close to much of anything. So, after 5 weeks of bad nails, well maybe 4, I opted for a manicure and pedicure to pass at least part of the time. Then I headed to the lounge.

My next flight was on EgyptAir to Cairo, not too surprisingly, but somewhat disappointing none the less with two long flights and a layover with them, they are a dry airline. Less comforting was that the plane from JoBurg to Cairo looked like it was about to fall apart, at least the interior was. And the guide for using the video system was anything but user friendly. It just listed the movies in order without a channel number, and you had to count from the top down to figure out which one was where. The system was supposed to have touch screen navigation, but that didn’t really work either. Thankfully, I slept most of the flight.

I then had 5 hours in Cairo, which gave me time to get some breakfast and freshen up a bit as well as get caught up on some personal work. Then I was finally of to Paris. I wish that this plane was what we had on the longer flight, as it was much newer and had much nicer seats.

Finally, I was in the country of my destination, but I still had a long way to go. And upon gathering my luggage and heading off towards the train, I realized that one of the wheels had broken on my bag. Of course I realized this after leaving the baggage area so I couldn’t easily make a claim, I know wheels aren’t generally covered, but the bag was cracked as well, so I will still to try to do this. Note: this makes the score suitcases 2, me 0 for this trip.

This time, I had about 3 hours until my train to Narbonne. But at least I was getting to the last leg of my trip. Finally I was on the TGV, and just had to stay awake to not miss my stop. The rest was easy. My arranged cab driver was there waiting with a sign, and got me safely to the chateau, where I met up with Ihla, owner of Drifter Sister and she got me settled in the little house right next to the castle where I would be staying for the next 6 nights.

And after 37 hours of travel, yes 37, and I didn’t even change a single time zone, I was ready to settle in after essentially losing a day and then some.

But, of course it was around midnight, so I had to be up pretty early again if I didn’t want to miss the outing to Collioure the next day, and I really didn’t want to miss it as it was one of my favorite day trips when I stayed in the castle with one of Ihla’s trips 3 years ago.

Needless to say, I made it, but I will leave the story of that trip for another post.

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As promised, here are some more upbeat words about my forays today.

Around 1 PM, I headed back to the office to meet up with some folks to check out the local Saturday Neighbourgoods Market (http://www.neighbourgoodsmarket.co.za/johannesburg/snapshots). After a very short walk, I was greeted by so any aromas it was hard to process them all. But I had had a large breakfast only a few hours before, so I wasn’t a bit hungry. So I opted for a glass of organic wine that I sipped while taking in more sites.

After parting from my co-workers, I hopped on the “hop-on hop-off” bus, it was too late to hop off, but I got a good view if areas of JoBurg that I wouldn’t have otherwise seen and learned some more history if the city as well.

After that, I met up with a couple of more TWers for a most excellent dinner where I was once again able to indulge in game (ostrich and springbok – both excellent). And of course there was pinotage to accompany it.

Very satisfied, it was back to the hotel and up to the rooftop deck to see if I could spot the Southern Cross. Before dinner I had also tried, but was thinking I had seen only the fake cross, and this was confirmed with the app on my iPad during the second, and successful, attempt. That said, it was still low in the sky, and I could really only see three of the five stars, so there is still something to strive to see over the next 5 weeks.

Now I must get off to bed and sleep a bit as I have a drive coming at 7 to get me back to the airport for my flight to Zambia where the real adventure begins. That said, I may be off the grid for most, if not all of those weeks, so be patient if you don’t see regular updates.

Wendy

After a pretty good night’s sleep considering I just crossed over 7 time zones, it was time to explore Johannesburg a bit.

First up was Constitution Hill (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_Hill,_Johannesburg) not a happy place at all, but one that should be seen to remind us of the atrocities of our past and make us think about things that are still happening today that are not all that different.

While the atrocities of how some so called human beings treated other human beings are hard to https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_Hill,_Johannesburg, it is imperative that all of us take the time to see them if we have any chance of truly making this world a better place.

Below I have some photos of the sites seen here, of the prison that didn’t close until 1983, apartheid itself (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apartheid) lasted until 1994, only a bit more than 20 years ago.

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And the stories behind the pictures are even worse: cell hierarchical structures that demean the newcomers even more than the act of wrongful incarceration, newcomers having to pick up raw sewage with their bare hands in the mess tent since the toilets overflowed regularly due to extreme overcrowding, a doctor determination how many lashes a prisoner could tolerate when sentence to receive a beating, food plates not being washed for months.

And while as horrific as all of this is, what I find even more disturbing is the feeling that things are not better. The recent events in the US in Ferguson (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferguson_unrest), South Carolina (http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/charleston-church-shooting) and Texas (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Sandra_Bland) show that we really have not made much progress at all.

Don’t get me wrong, it is nice to be in a South Africa where apartheid is in the past, but even here there is still a felling of difference. Most folks in the service industry are black, and many of the nice restaurants have a very white feel. So while it is no longer the law to be separate, separation still exits here just like in many other places in the world.

I am stifling with how to bring this post to a conclusion and don’t thing that I can do a good job, so I am going to just stop toying and move on to a different post of other things from today.

Wendy

First, I finally made it to JoBurg, and have a good night’s sleep behind me. But there was a moment when it wasn’t clear that fate would play that way.

After about 7 hours in the São Paulo airport, I headed to the gate for my flight to JoBurg. And I sat there, striking up a few conversations with others waiting as it got closer and closer to, and then beyond the scheduled departure time. Finally one of the agents came over to those of us waiting in the premier section and said that he wasn’t getting a lot of info from the pilots and suggested that we head back to the lounge to wait as it could be 5 minutes or 30. I decided to stay for a while, but after the 30 had passed, opted for the lounge.

And then I tried to get information, and information I got – it just wasn’t consistent nor complete. I was told anything from they were finding a new plane, to it will likely (make that may – lost a bit in translation) cancel, but I wasn’t allowed to change to the other flight that night since it hadn’t cancelled yet. And the worst piece of misinformation was that if it canceled, since I didn’t have a Brazilian visa, I would have to fly back to the States rather than waiting for another flight (yes scenes from Terminal flashed into my mind). Later information changed this to that they can get provisional visas for folks when this kind of thing happens.

Thankfully, the flight left, 5 hours late, but it left and I didn’t have to test the visa question nor did I have to go back.

And even better, the driver I had arranged for a pick up at the airport in JoBurg was able to wait and got me to my hotel just after my check in time (so at least I didn’t have to worry about what to do if I couldn’t get into my room early as would have been the case of the flight had been on time).

After freshening up, I headed a few blocks away to the ThoughtWorks office to say hi. It turns out that it was home office day so tons of folks we’re around and that turned into a party, complete with dancing, while the night was still young.

Eventually hunger won over and I convinced a few folks to head out to grab some food, so we headed to a local establishment (Great Dane) which is known for their hotdogs. It’s interesting how worlds seems to come together. The name of the establishment reminded me of my college days in Madison and the hotdogs were an interesting twist with me living in Chicago. Not that I can say that I have ever had a Mac & Cheese hotdog before (another nod to Wisconsin?), but I can tell you it was quite good and really not the spot after my long journey.

Sadly, around 9 I hit the wall and was able to catch a ride back to my hotel with a coworker where I slept quite well and am now ready to see a few sights around town before heading onward to Zambia tomorrow.

Wendy

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