We have Arrived in SA!!!

We had an uneventful flight and arrived in Joburg at 7:30 AM. After my experience with the guy at the United Airlines ticket counter in DC I was well prepared with my iPad in hand to show the lady at customs that I would not be in the country more than 90 days, she could have cared less. So we quickly proceeded through customs to baggage claim. It took about 20 min for any luggage to start moving around the convayor belt and about another 10 before my two rolling duffels came out. We continued to wait expecting Alex’s blue adidas duffel to come out, but it never did. We immediately headed to the SA counter to report a missing bag. The guy at the SA counter was very helpful and gave us all the information we would need in order to check back in with them about the status of the search. He said it probably didn’t make it on the plane in New York, but I think it didn’t make it on the plane in DC because when we were boarding out little plane we watched them put my two bags on, but we never saw Alex’s.

After exiting through customs we proceeded to look for Elna (the lady we were staying with in Joburg) unsure if she was going to be there because she had not responded to our last email about where to meet (come to find out she didn’t respond because her computer crashed, oh PC’s especially with Vista 😦 After not finding Elna anywhere we went to the Vodafone store to get a SIM for our African cellphones (meaning the my old AT&T razer phone & Alex’s phone he bought the last time we were in SA) . Side note always save old cellphones because they are great for when you travel because who cares if they get stolen, lost or damaged. Once the phone was activated we called the number for Elna’s clinic but she was not in. One of the ladies who works with her gave us the address and said Elna would be back soon.

Since we were in no hurry to get anywhere, we took money out of the ATM (@ 8 Rand to 1 US $, which is a great exchange rate) and decided to go find a Wifi signal. Walking along the row of duty-free shops and restaurants we came across a Mug & Bean and decided to have breakfast. Mug & Bean is a chain restaurant that we use to go to in Durban because they had the delicious food (especially breakfast) with very large portions. In addition they offered 15 min of free Wifi. After ordering we logged in and found Elna’s email with her address and information about a shuttle to Sandton, which is the area close to her home. We also tried syncing our CoPilot App for the iPad, that Alex downloaded form iTunes while we were in New York, but it kept giving us an error message (This App is not compatible with you version of the iPad). Alex was not happy to say the least, $50 down the drain (He plans to contact the developers and let them know is frustration). The food arrived, but the proportions where much smaller than we remembered and Alex’s french toast (which was the breakfast food of choice that last time) was plain. We are hoping that it was just because it was the airport Mug&Bean and that the quality really hasn’t gone down that much in 3 years.

Finished with breakfast, we went to find this shuttle to Sandton. Following signs to public transportation we ended up in a parking garage, so we turned back around to go ask for help. The airport had set up this iHelp stations all over the airport in order to provide for tourists here for the world cup with information and directions.  We asked the guy if he knew of a shuttle to Standton and where we could catch it, he said no but the new train which has a stop in Sandton is now working. So we followed him through the airport to the train but it would not be open until June 8, so then he said he would show us to the shuttle, well that really meant he would take us to the taxis outside, which we were trying to avoid taking because of increased rates. We asked them how much it would be to Elna’s and they said no more than 300 Rand, but then the driver said it was metered. As we were loading our things into the bag we watched as the owner of the taxi company slipped the iHelp guy a tip for bring us to his taxi. So typical of Africa, the SA government tries to improve things for the World Cup and provide the needed assistance in the airport and the people who are supposed to be unbiased and helping are getting paid off by others to only provided answers that increase their own profit. To top it off the iHelp guy only received a 10 Rand tip, which is slightly more than 1 US dollar. I would have gladly given more then a US dollar as a tip if the iHelp guy would have really helped us try to find the shuttle.

Anyway, it was exciting to be driving the streets of Joburg again, but the left hand side of the road driving threw me off. Every time the driver made a right turn to the far side of the street I wanted to scream “What are you doing” but in a couple of days it will seem normal again. We pulled up into a housing area and the GPS said destination 200 ft. Nothing looked familiar and when we got to the places that was supposedly Elan’s house we were 100% sure that we were not in the right place. Well we come to find out the driver put the address in wrong to the GPS, so we pulled out a map book and had to direct the taxi driver how to get to Elna’s real house. When we finally arrived, the taxi cost 650 Rand!!! According to the ladies at the clinic that is double what it normally costs to get to Elna’s from the airport. We now know to avoid taxis at all costs, at least until the World Cup is over.

It was nice to finally be at Elna’s. She is such a wonderful, upbeat and funny lady. After saying our hellos I took a warm shower and took a nice long nap. Later on in the day Elna took us to Clicks (which is like a CVS) to get Alex some toilitries, since his bag had not arrived. After that we went to dinner and off to bed.

Morning of May 27

We slept in this morning, but Alex woke up with a terribly upset stomach, so he went back to sleep. Good news Alex’s bag has been found and it will be arriving today!!! Thank goodness because we are leaving for Mozambique tonight and we really didn’t want to have to go buy him new clothes today.

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