Sunday, January 4, 2015

Planes, Planes and Airports – Tuesday, June 17, 2014

In which I diverge from the carefully written out itinerary I sent my parents - because like...why should they be worried about a LAM flight? - to take a flight on a different day from an airport that advertised skydiving lessons in the waiting room.
Car Rental in Tofo, Mozambique. Note the "Bus" is a horse. 
Since you’re reading this, I’m going to assume that you know I’m not much of a planner. I really wish I could somehow track the cumulative dollars I have spent on paying for plane ticket transfer/change fees in my life. Knowing that number might incentivize me to pay the extra upfront fee to ensure tickets are transferrable because I should just admit…I’m not a good enough planner to know something like what flight I want to be on in advance of…the day of the flight.

Anyways, I booked my return flight from Tofo/Inhambane for June 18. Partially this is because I am bad at math when it comes to days (I never understand…do you subtract the numbers and add one?? Or two??) and partially because I was expecting/hoping that I would love scuba diving SO MUCH that I would just want to stay in Tofo for another day/forever after Cory left. But this was not the case and, after a week at the beach, I was ready to leave on the same day as Cory.

When I had learned the Cory’s flight was a day before mine even before we started the trip, I actually had tried to email LAM (Mozambique Airlines) to change my ticket. Those emails weren’t fruitful, so I tried to call them. This required adding more $$ to my Google Voice account (which you can only add in $10 increments) to make an international call. And then when I could never get through to them during their “business hours”, I asked my mom to do it. She miraculously got through to them and they gave her a range of how much extra it would cost and said I’d have to come into a LAM office to change it. At this point, I just gave up and figured I’d figure it out when I got there.

So Cory and I took a chappa back to the airport with ample time before our flights.

Too much time.

There was nobody at the airport when we arrived. In classic Eli-Mitchell-must-check-if-every-door-is-locked-or-unlocked fashion, I found myself on the roof (air traffic control tower?) while looking for an agent. I haven’t been to enough small airports in the US (max 2 flights per day) to know if this is an Africa thing or a small airport thing, but I do have to say…it’s pretttyyy exciting to find yourself on the top of the unlocked roof of an airport!

That gate to the right looks unlocked to me!
So much to see from the top of the Inhambane Airport/Air Traffic Control Tower!!
We eventually found somebody and I discovered why I needed to be in person to change my ticket. Literally everything was handwritten. After ~10 minutes of silent calculations, looking up I don’t really know what and typing frantically onto a desk calculator, the agent handed me a handwritten receipt (in pencil!) showing how much I owed for the change. I paid in cash.

Then she handed over a handwritten boarding pass and I was off to Joburg!

Cory's handwritten boarding pass

It was quite a last-minute decision to fly out on the 17th instead of the 18th and it meant that I didn’t have a place to stay or any plans in Joburg. I basically emailed the hostel Cory had stayed at while he was in Joburg saying “I will arrive at the airport at this time. Can you please pick me up? I will pay you.” When we got to the airport, I learned that my flight was actually THREE HOURS later than I thought it was going to be. I was flipping out that I wouldn’t have a ride to pick me up in Joburg, but luckily, they were running on Africa time and were actually 15 minutes late picking me up (okay…3 hours and 15 minutes late…), but it all worked out.
Good byeee Cory!! We were actually on different flights. All the times were very confusing. Had we been on the same flight, I would have just been waiting in the Joburg airport for a much longer time for my ride to show up. Maybe so long I would've cried.
Many years ago, I had emailed with an older St. Paul’s Alum who was living in Joburg. Not having plans for my 24 hours there at all, I emailed her off-the-cuff to ask if she was still living there and if she’d want to get dinner. She and her husband came to pick me up at the hostel and treated me to a great Italian dinner out. Love the St. Paul’s community!

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