Jo’burg to Livingstone

Tuesday, September 04, 2007 – 03:30 

Monday morning I had breakfast at the Emerald Guest House before leaving for the Jo’burg airport.  The cost of breakfast was R20 (just under $3US) and consisted of eggs and bacon cooked to order as well as toast, jam, cereal, an assortment of fresh fruit, yogurt, fresh Guava juice, tea and/or coffee.

By 08:00 I was on my way to the airport which is just under a 10 minute ride.  Once I got dropped off there were no carts in close proximity, so I had a skycap take my bags (they all wear orange jumpers…yes, like the inmates in our prison systems!).  He whisked me through the airport.  I stopped off at the Vodacom store first to “top up” my airtime on the RSA cell number, which they gladly enter into your phone for you!

The skycap and I then made our way upstairs to the South African Airlines ticket counter.  I tried to tip him in $US (which is illegal, you are supposed to tip him in Rand)…($1US = R7)…I gave him a little of each ($2US & R15).  Before getting into line they weigh your bags while they are still on the cart.  I quickly pulled off my carry-on bags and left my two big check-in bags and they look up at me and said “how many are traveling with you?”  I said “just myself” and immediately mention that I was coming from the US, trying to evoke my (2) 50lb bag maximum right.  They handed me a slip of paper that had “2” bags checked off, as well as the box “OVERWEIGHT!!!”, then in another box the number “51” written in.  51kg I assume (Was that 51kg total or 51kg over the limit???).  The line to reach the counter took about an hour!  During that time I was thinking how I could take a pen and make that 51kg look like 41kg or even 31kg!

I finally arrived to the counter ready to do battle.  I had numerous strategies for why SA should take mercy on me for having overweight luggage.  The white South African women took my ticket, passport, and that slip of paper and proceeded to check me in.  Before I knew it she had tagged my red drybag without saying a word and moved it along the conveyer belt (that one bag was overweight alone!)…I shoved the next bag onto the scale and she said, “wait, how many bags do you have???”…I said, “two” she reached into the garbage and pulled out that slip of paper to re-read it…oh boy, here we go!  The woman quietly manufactured another tag and tagged my second bag!  She moved it along the conveyor belt and handed me my passport and boarding pass and instructed me as to which gate I had to go to and the boarding time.  I’m standing there in shock and about to wet myself like an over-excited puppy when she yelled over to someone in Afrikaans and left for her break!

Okay…what just happened?  I thought I would be asked to pay around $300US (as in the past) but instead I was on my way to customs and immigration.  Was it the long line that they needed to move along?  Was it my US passport?  Did she just have something on her mind?  Or was she meeting someone for her break?

What a major score!  Thank you travel gods!

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