Homeward Bound

Trip Start Jun 05, 2012
Trip End Jul 10, 2012

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Flag of South Africa  , Gauteng,
Monday, July 9, 2012

This is our last day in Africa.  In some ways I can't wait to get home but in other ways I am sad because even though I think I will come back some day, you can never be certain.  There have been many highs but there have also been lows.  I think I have learned some valuable lessons about how to travel in the future and what recommendations I would give to others.  Even so, I challenge anyone to see what we saw for less than $13,500.  We saw things, we did things, but ultimately it is expensive to get to Africa.  We have learned that the game parks are very expensive but also the highlight of the trip.  Thoday we don't have much planned because we have to check out of the hostel at 10:00, but they are not taking us to the airport until 4:30 for our 7:45 flight.  We were showered and had breakfast before 8:00.  We had to put our bags into day storage.  We didn't get in a big rush.  Miles tried to choose our seats on the plane but he couldn't remember the password.  We started walking east.  First stop was the Chinese warehouse.  I gave myself a 30 minute time limit but within 15 minutes I had looked at everything and bought a Springbok flag for 25 Rand.  We continued towards the mall and that took about 25 more minutes.  We looked at the grocery store for snacks, wandered around looking at random stores including the silver and gold coin stores.  The coins were really nice, but they were also very expensive.  I am sure they are worth it is you can afford the intitial investment.  We went into the Columbia store and we both tried on some 50% off shoes.  Columbia hiking shoes for less than $50 is a great deal, but I feel like we are already at capacity on what we are bringing home.  We also went to a sports store.  Miles tried on some shoes that are wanna be Nike Free and almost got them but decided not to.  I got a shirt that says "Africa is not for sissies".  Miles got one for Tim that says Instant Genius Just add beer.  Then we went to a place called Nando's for lunch.  It was $13.50 but I got 1/4 of a chicken, fries, roll and drink and Miles got a chicken wrap with fries and a drink.  Miles tried peri-peri sauce and said it tasted like salsa verde.
     After lunch we went to Checkers and bought snacks.  We limited ourselves to 20 Rand each.  I got mostly candy bars and "biscuits" and Miles got mostly chips.  Then we just had to get gelati because it was only 10 Rand ($1.25).  I got cookies and cream and Miles got carmel crunch.  We started the long walk back.  We went into McDonalds to see if we could get change for a 100.  They weren't allowed to but a nice woman said she had two 50's. As it turns out she and her sister are from Mozambique and highly recommended that we go there someday.  We went to the guys along the street and spent 110 Rand plus $10 on some last minute souvenirs including 2 wooden animals, hear no evil, speak no evil, and see no evil monkeys, a mask, 3 painting type things and 5 stone animals. 
     We continued the walk back and stopped at the park.  We found two geocaches but I was too tired to look for any others.  We walked back to Brown Sugar to the bar area and watched the end of a movie then used the internet for awhile.  We left for the airport at 4:30 and got there around 5:00.  We found the line for South African Airways.  Our baggage was 3 kg lighter than the maximum.  It felt good to drop off three of the bags.  Then it was time to figure out something for dinner.  We ended up settling for a nice little fish and chips place. The 29 Rand value meal was two pieces of hack, fries, and a drink.  The portions were huge for the price.
     Next, we went through security and I chose a different line than Miles and ended up way ahead of him.  Then we had to go through passport lines.  Miles got even further behind.  I was able to look around in three shops before he got through the line.  We went into a shop called Out of Africa.  It was really neat but unfortunately expensive. We made our way to the gate, and got our passport scanned.  Then the craziness started.  We were told that our flight was cancelled because of mechanical problems and we should make our way to gate A1.  The gate was really far way.  We walked really fast and were right at the front of the line.  The let all the people for Flight 236 get on first because that is who was supposed to be on the plane.  Then they announced that we all weren't going to make the flight.  The first class people were especially mad and I can see why.  They weren't going to reimburse them for the difference and the difference is huge.  The people who didn't get on the plane were going to be put in a hotel until the 8:00am the next day flight.  Luckily, we made the flight.  Originally we weren't seated together but we sat together anyway and the guy who was supposed to have one of the seats was fine with it.  We left 1 hour 25 mintes later than we were supposed to which was the exact amount of time we were supposed to have for our layover in London. 
    We watched the movie Sherlock Holmes: The Game of Shadows, and then dinner came out.  It was beef stew, carrots, greenbeans, rice, salad, crackers and cheese, dessert, and a chocolate.  Pretty impressive.  The sodas were 200 ml cans.  Then we watched the movie Safehouse, but I fell asleep half way through.  Miles watched Born to be Wild and I watched Destination South Africa.  Then I watched The Lorax.  I slept for awhile, then watched National Geographic about elephant orphans, then we watched Wonderlust. 
    The breakfast was kinda nasty.  Yogurt, sausage, eggs, fruit and a croissant.  Sounds good, but you just had to be there. It was not good.  The were were over London, but had to fly round and round, and at that point I highly doubted that we were going to make our connecting flight.  People were slow getting off the plane.  Miles sprinted and made it to the gate but they had already decided to close the doors and not let anyone on.  In the meantime, I was getting searched like I was a criminal because I had my bottled water from the other flight which I was told I could have.  We stood in line forever only to be rerouted in a way that we would get home at 11:15 pm.  We had to take a bus to terminal 4, then go through security and wait in line again.  Then since it was in the middle of the night in the United States we found an internet spot and paid 2 pounds to let people at home know that we were going to be late. 
     Our seats are not together again, and we were told to try to work out a deal on our own.  I started sitting with Miles but the drunk non-English speaking guy didn't like letting me out so I moved to an open seat.  I watched the movies "A thousand words" and "A little bit of heaven".  Then I watched a preview about the London Olympics and some of the things that London had done to get prepared for the games.  We landed in Houston and the security lines were crazy.  We didn't get our bags.  They were in a cart for the flight that had gotten cancelled and when they switched bags over they didn't care what flight the bags took to get back to the US.  We grabbed a drink at McDonalds, got a donut, and then our flight left late.
    We arrived in Indianapolis after 11:30, then had to make sure that our bags didn't arrive.  When they did not arrive we had to fill out paperwork in the baggage office.  Finally we borrowed someones phone to let Luke know that we were ready for pick-up.  Dad and Luke came together even though the next day was a work day for Dad.  We talked all the way back to Crawfordsville, then when we got to the house we got in our vehicle and headed towards home.  At the beginning of the trip Luke had come to get us in Covington so our vehicle could stay in the garage, but they had brought our vehicle to town which was very nice of them.  Hitting our own pillow was 36 days in the making and felt very nice!

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