Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year 2011

My trip from Canada to Zambia went well. Thanks to Milt for driving me down to Calgary on Thursday December 30 and dropping me at the airport. Although I had a few hours to wait until flight time it was good to relax after the past several weeks of hectic activity as I packed up and prepared to leave. Also a chance to make a few last minute phone calls to some people. The flight left on time at 8:30 pm and was full, but it went smoothly and I was able to get 2-3 hours of sleep on and off.

We arrived at London Heathrow at Noon their time on Friday. Fortunately I only had 5 hours to wait for the next flight and didn’t have to change terminals. It would have been nice to get out of the building for some fresh air but it was foggy and rainy so I didn’t bother with all the formalities of having to check out through immigration and then back in. As it was I did a lot of walking in the terminal to stretch the body out, in between making calls to a few people in the UK to catch up with them and wish them a happy new year. Also had pint of English beer for old time sake – and to celebrate new year in Hong Kong at that particular time !

The flight for Lusaka left on time at 6:30 p.m. – this time the flight only at about 70% full. Initially I was in an aisle seat next to another person on one side of the plane – a Boeing 767 so just two seats next to the window. I then moved across to the middle row of three seats as they were all open and thought that I would be able to stretch right out for a sleep. About 30 minutes after take-off the flight director came to me and asked if I would mind moving up to Executive/Club Class – she wanted to give the row of three seats to a woman with a small boy as they only had two seats. What a question – I couldn’t move fast enough ! There were only 7 people in total in that section so I got two seats to myself – what a blessing having the extra space with a foot rest and further tilt of the seat, as well as fancy headphones ! The food was no different to what was served to the “back” but more enjoyable in the comfort. After dinner I slept for a couple of hours. I happened to wake up just before mid-night UK time and was given a (real) glass of champagne to welcome the new year in – along with a few others who were awake in executive class. (Nothing much happened back in economy class as the lights were off and most people were sleeping !) So although nothing spectacular it was still fun to bid 2010 farewell and spend a bit of time wondering what 2011 has in store for me.

I only managed to doze for another couple of hours before we landed in Lusaka right on time at 6:30 a.m. local time – 9 hours time difference to Alberta so I had been on the go for 36 hours ! No problems getting through formalities and Chris Rogers was there to meet me. We went to his place for a great egg and bacon breakfast and a decent cup of tea before he dropped me off at Bob and Mary’s house. (They are away in the USA on furlough until end of January so I have the place to myself. Well except that they left their little dog, Nick, so I have a bit of company.) I took a bit of time to do some unpacking then had a much-needed shower followed by a snooze for a couple of hours. Then ventured out in the vehicle – no problem getting back to driving on the left had side of the road ! – to do some grocery shopping. The traffic was relatively light being a public holiday and the two malls I visited were not too crowded so it went well.

Most of the day has been cloudy with some signs – including thunder – of rain but nothing materialised here. It was 25C when we landed this morning and was up to 31C by the afternoon when I went out. Now, early evening, it has cooled off to 23C – which is actually very pleasant since there is a cool breeze blowing. As I write there are the bangs of fireworks going off around the neighbourhood – people obviously still celebrating new year tonight !

As I commented on Facebook yesterday (and many times before), flying always amazes me. That 200-300 people can get inside a metal cylinder, get off the ground, cruise through the air to half-way round the world, and then land on the ground again is always a miracle to me ! When I am up at 35,000 feet with just the throb of the engines outside, it seems so surreal to me.

Anyway I hope that you had a great new year celebration wherever you happened to be. In case you don’t already have it my Zambian mobile number is (260) 976-198-207 if you need to get hold of me by voice or by text message. (260 is the Zambia country code).

As usual, access to the Internet is going to be sporadic. E-mailing should be no problem on a regular basis with a cellular Internet stick but access to the web to do blog and FB updates will have to wait until I am in a town and can connect to high speed.

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