March 20: Chobe Game Lodge -> Johannesburg

On our early (pre-dawn) game drive, we were looking for lions. One of Monica’s colleagues reported seeing a pair, so we went there. There were a male and female lying in the road, and we pulled up close, by the other truck, to watch. Soon they copulated, and did so four times in the half-hour we watched! Each time was pretty quick, but they seemed to enjoy it. The Beatles: “Why don’t we do it in the road? No one will be watching us…” Except, several people were watching. We finally had to leave (and got bored) to make it back to camp for breakfast.

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We packed, checked out, and drove to the Kasane Airport, a small modern airport nearby. While checking in, Anna recognized Tristan, a naturalist guide in the YouTube series “Safari Live” which they’d been watching before the trip. A very personable, charismatic guy, he was conducting a tour with several photographers, and dealing with the travel disruptions also. We got our boarding passes for all three legs of our trip: Kasane -> JNB -> LHR -> SFO.

When we landed in JNB, we learned that South African Airways had just cancelled all their international flights, so we were stuck there. The transit lounge was totally chaotic, with hundreds of anxious people queuing up at the counters for the various airlines, trying to re-book flights out. SAA referred us to Lufthansa, who offered no help; they recommended to go out to the LH ticket counter, which is outside the transit area, in the public area of the airport. I went online with my Lufthansa iPhone app, and modified my existing flight home, which was scheduled for April 1st, to March 24th, four days from then. Iver and Anna booked the same flight. Our bags were held by SAA in transit, so we couldn’t access them in the airport at all.

We wanted to go out of the airport, to go to the LH ticket counter, or to a hotel, but found that we had to remain in the transit area. South Africa had just revoked visas for citizens of high-risk areas, including the U.S.A., which meant that we couldn’t leave the transit area. I saw that there was a transit hotel there, so I went over and secured two rooms while Anna and Iver were still reserving their flights. We checked in while other passengers were still trying to get flights; it soon filled up. It’s a basic hotel, no frills, or restaurant, but a bed and a bathroom, minus our luggage. Now we had to kill four days. To get to the shops and restaurants in the boarding area, we had to go through security each time, with our cancelled boarding passes. The first night we went to a noisy, crowded, crummy restaurant. I bought a toothbrush and toothpaste at the pharmacy.

March 19: Chobe Game Lodge

March 21, 22, 23: JNB