After leaving Ethiopia, we got a flight to Johannesburg. A long flight that Noodle did not care for, thank you very much. Somehow, we managed to make it through the flight with her slapping us and shrieking and trying to drink all the juices we had. Take note: Ethiopian Airlines has terrible food and no in-seat movies. This is not a great combo for travel with small children.
We made it, and were greeted by the friendliest immigration officer in the history of time. He was a beautiful man who saw me by myself because I have a different name than the Bucket and the kids. He made small talk about how hard it is to fly with children and waved me through. I loved South Africa already.
But then I remembered that we were in Johannesburg airport, hotbed of crime and danger, according to TripAdvisor.com. We had to get to the hotel bus depot, which apparently involved leaving the airport and being led to the parking lot by people who supposedly worked for the information desk, who would then jump you and steal your valuables! I got directions from no fewer than two information desks, because simply following the directions printed on 439578394875 signs, or listening to just one information giver would surely lead us to certain death.
And so, we began our trek out of O.R. Tambo airport (which I must say is very shiny and nice), out INTO THE SUNSHINE! AND ACROSS THE STREET! AND PAST A HOTEL! Fortunately, we made it. It seemed like a very dangerous place for the whole three minutes we were walking. After all, there were only dozens of people walking around in broad daylight, probably just waiting to attack us and steal our Ethiopian knickknacks.
The van arrived just as we did, which was fortunate, because we would have surely been attacked and killed by all the seemingly upstanding travelers milling about. Our driver was a charming man who kept asking us to take him to America. Bucket gently tried to tell him that America isn’t all it’s cracked up to be for immigrants, but he didn’t buy it. Damn you, Hollywood!
We had no South African cash for tips when we got there, which was terrible because the bellhop was a charming fellow who talked to Peeta for ages while I was checking in, and let him ride on the bags up to the room. I made Bucket go back to the airport and get cash later so we could tip him, but he was already gone. Yet another reason I’m going to hell. And yes, I still feel guilty. Thanks for asking.
The hotel. Oh, the hotel! It was clean and shiny and you could flush your toilet paper! There was a pool and a restaurant and a bar and satellite TV and the beds were so big and lovely.
We arrived just as they were finishing lunch in the restaurant, so they put us in the bar, where I realized I forgot to check the exchange rate. As I calculated it, the burger I wanted to get for lunch was $50. That sounded high, but I was hungry, damn it. We decided to suck it up and just have snacks for dinner. Later we realized the burger was something like $12. This, people, is why I did not major in math.
Peeta and Bucket went swimming in the very scenic but also cold pool for a little while as I lay around with Noodle, trying to figure where we could move that would let us have a garden like that. Then we all went upstairs, watched TV, ate snacks from the airport, and fell asleep.
In the morning, we had the world’s most glorious breakfast buffet. I only wish we had more time for me to chow down there. The waiter was charming, like all the other staff. The strange but unifying theme at the hotel was that the entire staff was charming, and the entire staff was black. Do white people not go into hospitality in South Africa?
We went back to the airport where the Air Botswana woman was stunning and lovely, and she gave us our tickets, but then we couldn’t figure out how to get to immigration. Turns out OR Tambo airport is a little too modern for us. We finally got through, the immigration guy was a dick (which I’m pretty sure is a prerequisite) and we waited a while for our flight. A Chinese woman took a picture of Noodle, because she thought she was cute, and we took a 47-mile bus trip to get to our plane.
And then, like a dream, it was gone. And now I need to go back to South Africa.