Once upon a time a very, very long time ago in the days before instant communications via cellphone and internet a young married couple set off to start a new life in Zimbabwe. Their plane left London late as there had been a fault to repair, but they were reassured that the connecting flights would be held back so there would be no problem with arriving in Harare at the correct time...
On arrival in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia to help those who may need to hunt for an atlas or google it) they discovered that they had been lied to at the flight desk in London and that the connection had already left. No problem they could get on the next flight... yes they could (ha ha) in 4 days time! There was much panicking as the family in Zimbabwe had already left for the airport and would only learn of the young couples absence when the flight did not arrive.
The airline put them all up in a hotel so about 20ish passengers clambered back onto a bus and off they set. They pull up at The Sheraton, very posh, swimming pool, 4 star accommodation and prepared to disembark. "Are you 1st class passengers" asked the group guide. "Err...no" say most of the travellers. "Please retake your seats then and we will continue the journey".
So back to the centre of Addis Ababa they went and The City Centre Hotel. Hmmm....be positive thought the young bride. The young couple timewarped back to the 1970's as they entered the foyer. Their bedroom was on the 4th floor and there was a choice of stairs or an ancient lift. They opted for the stairs, and after the first flight remembered they were at 2500m (altitude). After some time had pased they arrived exhausted at the room and were very relieved to discover that at least the sheets, though worn, were clean.
The allowance for food and drink was 3 meals a day with one drink per meal. Drinking tap water was not recommended. Only American Express and American dollars were accepted for any extras. Thank goodness for their better prepared fellow passengers who were willing to lend out precious foreign currency as daily life at 2500m was quite thirsty work.They were allowed to use the landline at the travel agency to phone Zimbabwe to inform them of their new travel plans once a day.
After day one they were allowed to have their suitcases back to change their clothes and after a few complaints from some very disgruntled, bored passengers they were taken on a guided tour of the city which at one point must have been very beautiful but was full of the destruction of war, and then up into the mountains where the views were amazing but the poverty was evident.
They were served some interesting meals (!!) one of which sent the young bridegroom running for the lift to return to his bathrom!!! Another when there were gunshots fired outside the hotel, there was instant silence as all the diners stopped eating and the waiters stopped waiting (interesting language English) then, when nothing else happened, life resumed.
After 4 character building days the young couple finally arrived in Harare much to everyones relief.
Once upon a time in the less distant past a young man was returning to Harare to a family wedding and some family time on the farm. He set off from Bordeaux on a Wednesday afternoon and luckily snuck out of Europe before the french travel unions went on strike. After a dull day spent sitting in Nairobi waiting for his connection his mother phoned to find out how things were going. His Dad was busy checking flight status on the internet to confirm times with the waiting family in Harare, and said to the mother "the b......s have just cancelled his flight there must be a backlog because of the strikes in Europe". The young man went to find a person at a desk to confirm the situation whilst the mother contacted the relevant people in Harare via wattsap to let them know that the flight would not arrive and that they would be kept informed. The group of stranded passengers were eventually bused to a hotel where they were kept together until their new flight was organised for the next morning. They were fed and watered at the hotel and the following morning were delivered back to the airport where they boarded the plane bound on a rather long winded journey via Lusaka to Harare. All parties were up to date at all times via the internet, wattsap and FB.
My how times have changed in what is in fact only 23 years.
See you all soon
I am farming sheep and goats on the Dordogne/Gironde border with my husband and our 3 children. We have an on farm butchery and sell our meat direct to the public via the markets and delivery points in our local area