While I was preggers I took a trip home to Zimbabwe. It was sort of my way of getting connected to the place in the world that comes most readily to mind when I think of home. I wanted to come home before I reached a point where I wouldn’t be able to fly and also because I figured it would be a while after I delivered. Unfortunately, I was sick from pregnancy related travel complications from the very first flight I caught out of Baltimore (BWI). The flight was one of those deals I got months before for a STEAL…and I was paying for it in how many legs the flight had. It went from Baltimore (BWI) to New York (JFK) to Amsterdam to Johannesburg and finally to Bulawayo. On the very first short (a little over an hour) leg, after landing as I stood in the aisle with others to get off the flight my body temperature shot up, I got lightheaded and fainted completely falling deadweight and blacking out in the aisle of the flight. I woke up not sure how many seconds minutes later with flight attendants and a passenger attending to me. This had happened to be earlier in my pregnancy on a very looooong direct flight was DC to Addis Ababa and I remembered I needed something cold on my body to cool me down and something sweet to bring my blood sugar back up was needed – so I knew what others around me should do. I directed them on what to do and was able to stand and make my way out of the narrow aisles of the plane. Paramedics had been called since my being 5 months pregnant made it even more emergency. An ambulance sped down the tarmac and pulled up literally beside the airplane. A gurney was brought up to carry me from there to Jamaica Queens Hospital. I’d hit my head and busted my knee on the fall and was just completely OUT of it.
Cut a long story short, I’d arrived NY about 8 in the morning and my next connecting flight was supposed to be at 8pm and I’d planned to spend the day in the city, but that wasn’t happening. My friend Zanele with whom I’d planned a day of fun with spent the day bedside in the hospital with me and once I was discharged later in the day took me out to eat and freshen up. I was determined to continue on the trip because I thought maybe that WHOOOOLE entire incident was a fluke (also my terrible habit of not cutting myself some slack or allowing myself a break sometimes). Things came together and I made it onto my next flight to Amsterdam as a passenger marked as needing assistance. I arrived there with less than 2 hours to connect to my Jo’burg flight…..but given how long that flight is and the previous one had been, the airline decided against letting me on as I needed to have time for my body to recover from the pressure and stress of the flight. Oh did I mention I threw up my whole life on that flight an hour to landing?! They booked a hotel for me and I was booked on the next flight 12 hours later to Jo’burg. To be honest, that did help in ways I didn’t realize. It was good to just sleep, eat and do nothing for those hours with little/no interaction with people. Everything had been overstimulating until then.
Made it to the airport the next morning and did a bit of walking around the airport (Schipol shopping is the bomb.com) and eventually boarded. Again, I was marked as needing assistance and got on with the old people and those traveling with kids (iWAS) – I can’t wait to get that preferential treatment when traveling with baby. Flight attendants checked on me constantly to make sure I didn’t faint in my seat where and no-one would know since I wouldn’t fall.
Made it to Jo’burg now a day behind the originally ticketed days and before I even came out at arrivals I maneuvered my way behind the scenes there to see how that could be resolved. Basically, all flights from Jo’burg to Bulawayo are fully booked until 3 days later. My whole trip was 2 weeks and I’d already lost a day sleeping in Amsterdam. Crap! Although I have family and friends in Jo’burg I’m typically a planner and springing myself unplanned or unannounced is NOT my thing. I did not want to have to figure out a plan to stay with someone. I like Jo’burg for transit unless I have plans there or when my mom lived there. I sucked it up and called an uncle/cousin (not quite sure which he is) who is in the family/clan WhatsApp group and he happily came to get me and welcomed me in his home with his warm and beautiful wife and two young sons. Mind you also by the way as well…Jo’burg was FUH-REEZING (compared to final destination Bulawayo) and the warmest thing I had was the sweater I wore. Mind you, home in southern Africa aren’t quite centrally heated so the house/room i was in was an ICE BOX. I showered and jumped into bed holding myself in the same position and completely under the covers hoping my body would kick into highest for heat. Nope it stayed on slow. First day I slept there I just decided to give up on thinking and planning how I was gonna get to Bulawayo. Just slept. Made some calls next day and looked things up and there were no flights or at least not without paying monies that were not budgeted for. I couldn’t spend those days so we brainstormed and me uncle/cousin also did his part. It turned out a distant cousin who I either had never met before or had a loooooong time ago (we both weren’t sure) ‘s husband was driving to Zim early the next morning to take supplies for their house they’re building in Gwanda (this sentence should be used to illustrate their vs. they’re usage…teeheehee). That was my ticket out I did not care what ungodly hour he was leaving I was gonna ride with him. They’d said he’d pick me up 7 in the morning. He didn’t come until 2pm when we went to his house I met the cousin I’m not quite sure about and their kids then we finally hit the road to Zim at 10pm. Don’t ask me what things needed to be don, shangaan bags (ghana must go) were put in the back of the pick up truck, snacks and mphako was put together in all that time.
At this point I’ve been typing so much and I’m trying to figure out if I should continue with how that total 16 hour drive with 2 hours spent at the border that, with efficiency and without corrupt, underpaid border officials, should have been 20 minutes went OR just skip to the #afrofoto of the day.
I’m going to skip forward to the #afrofoto, but if you reply/comment that I should continue the trip story your wish is my command in another post 🙂