Well That Was Special… not

My flight was to leave at 11:30 am Dec.24/16, Saturday. At 2am, Dec.23/16, Friday,  I woke gasping for air. I was to find out later from the emerg doctor I had pneumonia. NONONONONONO Despite my hysterical explanation that I was going to Africa and I couldn’t possibly have pneumonia he stuck to his diagnosis. Since our city is in the middle of a Fentanyl crisis he was only mildly sympathetic. Hundreds dying from overdoses vs a first world problem. He tossed me a prescription for a heavy duty antibiotic and said have a good trip.

Now the idea of crawling onto a plane for 2 days, followed by 1 day of train/bus with my pathetic sick body seemed unbearable, the idea of NOT was worse. Monkeys awaited.

Somehow I finished packing and took a taxi to the airport. That I took a cab instead of the much cheaper train is an sign of how poorly I felt.

My connections were tight which was worrisome at the best of times but with my brain full of cotton balls it was going to be challenging. Right off the hop my flight to Calgary was delayed 30 min because of snow. The staff assured me all would be well. I felt like nothing would ever be well again.

It was fine but I had to shuffle as quick as I could to make it. An old guy with a walker passed me. The rest of the flights were a blur of pain and extreme discomfort but finally they spit me out in Johannesburg Dec.25 at 10pm. Forty minute cab ride and finally – a bed! I have never been so grateful for a shower and to be horizontal!

Xmas at Jo'berg Airport

Xmas at Jo’berg Airport

The train ride to Pretoria was uneventful and spent most of my time blowing my nose and watching people.

Ah the bus depot in Pretoria! We aren’t in Kansas anymore ToTo. Like bus ‘stations’ all over the world it is a grimy gritty collection of detritus and an interesting strata of society. I went in to buy my ticket and was introduced to the African technique of line-ups… if I can get in front of you, it is fair game. All my sarcasm was wasted on them. Growling got some attention but apparently I am not as scary as I’d like to think I am. Finally I have my ticket so I go to the bathroom eeeeeeuuuuuuuuuu!!!!

As I’m wandering around feeling miserable, I spot a kiosk with a sign for ice cream. Instantly I start to drool as I imagined the cold satiny feeling of it on my sore throat. She shrugged and said, “No ice cream”. I went limp… limper and whispered, “No ice cream?”. Her haughty expression said it all – “No stupid white woman, no ice cream now go away so I can go back to my phone”. shuffle shuffle shuffle

Finally onto the bus which was quite posh with way more room than planes. I slept on and off, watching the landscape change from grubby city to fields spotted with trees to lush green verdant hills as we pull into Tzaneen. Thankfully Karen was waiting for me and another volunteer who was also on the bus. We piled Into the battered old truck and stopped at the corner store where I bought kleenex, green tea, Doritos and an ice cream! The ice cream was inedible but the Doritos were comforting.

When we arrived I was dropped at my cabin to unpack and take a breath (not easy to come by these days). The cabin is delightful, it even has electricity!!… from 7pm to 4am anyway.

I made it against all odds!

And so begins my adventure at the Vervet Monkey Foundation! 

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