Stinking in South Africa
Well...we've been in Cape Town about 27 hours and it's been quite a ride since leaving Madrid. On Saturday morning we got ourselves up late (nice) checked out of the hotel and mailed some postcards. After that we went back to the Plaza Mayor and found a restaurant and enjoyed a leisurely lunch and got back to the hotel to play some cards in the lounge before our ride arrived to take us to the airport (a shuttle I had booked on Friday morning). The shuttle was over 15 minutes late and the guy at the hotel called them and they said I had never booked with them, but that they would send somebody to pick us up. We got there and he dropped us off at the wrong terminal. We walked a long way with all our baggage to the right terminal and they refused to book our bags all the way to Cape Town. They said that when we got to Frankfurt we had to pick up the luggage and then re-book the luggage (and us) to Cape Town. The window of time was small and we tried to insist, but the woman behind the counter refused and promised it would be "no problem." Hearing those words put a shiver up my spine. Our flight was delayed and by the time we reached Frankfurt it was time to leave for Johannesburg. We ran through the airport and got to the counter as they said "just at the last minute" and said -- "when you get to Cape Town call us and we'll pick up your luggage and get it to you." We boarded for the 10 hour flight to Jo-burg (what everyone around here calls it) and then fairly quickly took another 2 hour flight to Cape Town. When we went looking for the Lufthansa office in the Cape Town airport they told us that Lufthansa no longer had an office here -- they we should talk with Swissport (who has a relationship with Lufthansa). But we couldn't do that because at 2 o'clock on Sunday afternoon in Cape Town because the airport closes down. "call them at 9:00 am" the person at the information booth said (the only person beside security personnel anywhere to be seen). So we arrived at our guest house and our cab driver let us use his cell phone and we called the proprietor who came and opened up for us. We are staying at a guesthouse that used to be a maternity hospital run by the Anglican Church. Val who runs it is a real jewel. And so is Melvin who sleeps here and hangs out in the evening. We went and got some dinner and then off to bed (collapsing all the way). Then in the morning they fixed us a good breakfast and I called Swissport. They said they would call me back in 2 minutes. Over 2 hours later they still hadn't called us. I called again -- they said they couldn't be any help! Kathy and the boys stayed here and I walked to downtown Cape Town -- about half an hour walk -- in the cold and rain (with still my summer Madrid clothes and that's all!). I went to the tourist office --and Lee who was there was very helpful. He got me in touch with Lufthansa and after much conversation they gave me a case file and are off and looking for our bags and promised to deliver them to our doorstop -- ONCE THEY FIND THEM. Yikes. We stink. Literally.
I had to stop to confirm some flight arrangements at South African Airways (by the way – another odd thing I’ve noticed here – odd to me, is that they say “4th floor” and you end up walking around 6 or 7 flights – I can’t figure that one out) -- then as I was walking back from that office, I saw a sign that said "Methodist House" -- so I went in and met the "parliamentary liaison" for the Methodist church. Keith and I had a good talk. Tomorrow I have a meeting with the parliamentary liaison for the Council of Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in South Africa, Father Peter-John Pearson -- he's a friend of a friend. Then back to our place...after hanging around and playing some more cards we decided to brave the weather in our summer clothes and we headed off to the waterfront. We took the "rikki cab." You call and they tell you when they'll be there -- and they may happen to pick up another passenger or two along the way -- that's the way "rikki cabs" work - and they give you a little card -- they stamp each time you ride and the 10th ride is for free (what - no subway sandwich with that, you ask!). We wandered around the water front -- we'll be back here tomorrow to get the boat out to Robben Island -- where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.
Tonight I talked with Anne Hope, who along with her partner Sally, run the Grail Centre, a place for economic development and women's justice. Anne and Sally wrote a book years ago called "Training for Transformation" that I remember having nearly 20 years ago when I was at Broadway. I was reading about their work in economic and cultural development in East Africa -- and now we're going to go hang out with them (they too are friends of friends of ours). I'm excited to hear about their work.
P.S. - Thanks to all those posting on our guestbook. We love to see the messages. Pictures will be forthcoming -- but we're still reeling from the lack of our stuff and haven't figured out the technology here yet.