Off to Africa 12 July 2012

It was quite warm last night in Canberra, Australia – just down to around 5-7 degrees Celsius.  Earlier this week we ended the coldest start to July in 36 years – I think it was a week of mornings where the temperature dropped to -5 or below.

So, it wasn’t all that difficult to get up a bit after 7 and go for my 6.3km walk around the ‘burbs.  I dispensed with my walking boots and rucksack as they were all but packed.  I walk each morning that I don’t go to the gym, but, as training for my African jaunt, I’ve been walking in my hiking boots and carrying 3×2 litre milk containers filled with water in my rucksack.  Even on the minus mornings, I walk at a pace that brings me out in a sweat.  I’m assuming it will make a difference to the way I handle the tropical rainforest that I’ll have to negotiate to catch up with the gorillas I’m hoping to see in Rwanda.

The walk was decidedly the same as most other mornings except that I came across the peacocks that live in the suburb.  Seventeen (the top count I’ve heard of is 27 birds) were wandering around a front garden, some of them having got tired of that, were making their way across the road in my direction.  Only a couple of feet divided me from being able to pat one of these domesticated birds that seem to have the run of the place.  We have had five in our driveway but that was some hundreds of metres from my encounter this morning.  The males all had full plumaged tails so spring can’t be too far away.  I was amused at the birds antics but not half as much as the tradies going to work who don’t usually have to slow down for marauding peacocks.

The rest of the morning was taken up with breakfast and the usual last minute things that need doing before a house is closed up for a number of weeks.

The taxi arrived, the plane left on time and now I’m in Melbourne killing seven hours before my flight takes off for Abu Dhabi.  These seven hours are going to seem almost as long as the 14 and a half hours it is going to take my Etihad jet to get me from Melbourne to Abu Dhabi – all in one hop. The check-in gates don’t open for four hours, so I’m stranded with my bags – just killing time.  Now, that’s a bit like wishing your life away!  I’m leaving at 10pm so most of the flight will be in darkness – will sleep come easily, I don’t generally sleep very well on aircraft?  I’ll just want to get there!  There are two hours transit time scheduled in Abu Dhabi before the flight to Nairobi – and that one is only four hours and fifty minutes.  The travelling time to get there, and back again, are the worst things about travel.

The airlines, QF definitely, are getting very fussy about how much luggage a passenger can take with them.  Limits on the number of pieces and weight are being strictly enforced.  Mind you, I’m not against any of this as things were getting decidedly out of hand.

Travelling to two very different climatic zones on this trip obviously presents problems when deciding what to take.  Add to this the need to take a sleeping bag for the African part of the trip and a ‘Gortex’ jacket for the northern leg, it does become problematic.  I might be flying business class on the long overseas legs but the economy sectors present the problems.  One checked-in bag only and that can’t exceed 23kg.

I’m arriving in Nairobi a day earlier than the group and decided to stay a day longer.  When I booked the Denmark, Iceland and Greenland trip, this worked very much in my favour as I will be able to leave the ‘northern’ stuff at the hotel in Nairobi and not have to lug it all over Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.  Will it still be there, untouched, when I return to the hotel?  This situation requires two bags, one to be left behind, one to take with me through Africa.  What to do?  I’ve solved the problem by choosing one bag that will fit inside another, the smaller one being the one I’ll take to see the gorillas.  With all the necessities packed, including the sleeping bag, (does that make 3 bags?) there was no room for my hiking boots.  Wear them, of course, was the only answer.  I didn’t want to wear them all the way to Nairobi so the time I’m killing here in Melbourne has allowed me to find a couple of seats and repack.  Bag out of bag, boots off, shoes on, and a general rearrangement of the other stuff has resulted in two half packed bags.


The “offending” boots and half packed bags
012 DY of ‘jttravels’


Although I will kick off my shoes on the plane, and would have done the same if still wearing the boots, it will be much easier, even if it is only to contend with security.  I’ll happily let the hold look after my boots.  Miraculously, the bag in bag combo only weighed in at 17.7kg on presentation in Canberra.  Just think how much else I could have packed.  Wouldn’t have fitted in anyway – the bag looked a bit pudgy as it was!

Should only be another hour before the check-in gates open for my flight.  That must mean I’ve all but wasted three hours!  Four hours to go but three of those will be in a lounge with food.  I have had a coffee to quench my thirst and pallet and to kill some of the minutes of the last three hours.

So far, I’ve only forgotten one thing – my mug – for a decent sized cup of tea when it is offered.

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