Wednesday and Thursday, October 24 and 25, 2007
Johannesburg (Kempton Park), South Africa, to Knoxville, Tennessee

Emerald Guest House, Kempton Park, South Africa

Our last morning in Africa!  We needed to check a bag on the flight back to the US so we wouldn't have to throw away our new pocketknives and such that you aren't allowed to carry on, so this morning we separated out items from our carry-ons that we were willing to lose, such as our dirty laundry, to fill up the checked bag.  

There were a few left-over items that weren't worth taking back with us at all, e.g., extra TP, a bit of leftover coffee, and our emergency taillight, so I left them with a note for the maid to either keep the items or throw them away.  But what to do with my pepper spray?  I hated to part with it before I ever even got to spray anybody, but I was afraid to try to check it.  I'm not 100-percent sure it's banned from the checked luggage, but the security folks in Atlanta can be such jerks I was afraid to risk it!  I didn't ditch the pepper spray until I got to the airport, though, just in case.

We did risk checking a leftover box of matches which exceed the security-approved quantity.  The matchbox had scantily clad women on the cover, and Tom wanted it as a souvenir.  We didn't get away with it, though.  TSA confiscated it from our luggage!  

At 10:00 a.m. we had to check out of our room, but we were welcome to hang around on the Emerald Guest House grounds until airport time.  We spent the next four hours poolside, Tom reading a book, and me filling in some gaps in this journal.  It was a beautiful day and a fine way to spend our time, much better than four additional hours at the airport. 

Jana poolside

The airport from our conveniently located lodging

At 2:00 p.m. Emerald's shuttled us to Johannesburg's O.R. Tambo International Airport.  Delta's check-in counter wasn't open yet when we arrived, so we got a burger and fries at a Steer's burger place first, and then went back to the Delta counter and checked in as far as Atlanta, where we'd be required to retrieve the checked bag for customs purposes and then recheck it on through to Knoxville.

Once we had our boarding passes, we proceeded quickly through immigration and then security, leaving plenty of time for duty-free shopping.  Unfortunately, you can't carry duty-free liquor to the US from here due to the ridiculous 3 oz. liquid rules.  At O.R. Tambo, you can't even get a bottle of water past the security checkpoint to carry onto your flight to the US, because Delta security checks you again just before you board the plane.  I'd purchased a bottle of water, consumed the whole thing, and put the empty bottle in my carry-on because there wasn't a handy trash can.  Delta confiscated the empty plastic bottle.  I submit that even the most resourceful terrorist would be hard pressed to wreak much havoc with an empty plastic bottle.  Whatever.

Delta flight 35 departs Johannesburg at 6:45 p.m. and is scheduled to arrive in Atlanta at 7:35 a.m.  With the time change, that's just shy of 19 hours, ALL IN THE DARK.  That's a very long night.  I just wish I could sleep that long.  

The flight left on time and arrived on time, stopping for an hour and a quarter in Dakar, Senegal, to refuel and change flight crews, where we were not allowed off the plane.  During the stop, Dakar security came on board, looked over the carry-on luggage, and rummaged through our seat pockets and underneath the cushions.  Happily, there were no screaming babies flying with us tonight.

In Atlanta we deplaned, went through immigration, and were officially readmitted to the United States.  W e picked up the checked bag from the carousel (Hey, it made it!), went through customs, went through security again, since apparently only American security counts, rechecked the bag, found the gate for our Knoxville-bound flight, and received our boarding passes.  

Our 8,439-mile flight all the way from Johannesburg to Atlanta arrived right on time, but then, naturally, our last little 163-mile flight to Knoxville was delayed.  And we couldn't call Tom's folks to tell them of the delay because in Johannesburg I'd plugged my cell phone in to charge it without the proper converter and their 220-volt electricity fried it.  Oops.  Later I found out I'd just fried the charger and not the phone, but that didn't help us in Atlanta.

At 11:35 a.m., just 35 minutes behind schedule, we landed in Knoxville, where Tom's parents were waiting for us.  On arrival at home, I found a giant pile of bills, 10 phone messages, and 1,591 emails.  I miss Africa!!!

Tom bonus pic, Zimbabwe

Jana bonus pic, Zimbabwe


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