Monday, January 4, 2010

In which is is a very good thing that I know how to use the Tube, and God provided through a random stranger.

I’m feeling much more like myself now—most of the jet lag has worn off and I should soon be back at 100%. As some of you know, I had quite an experience in London. I arrived about 10 in the morning, went through customs with no problems, and left my laptop bag at one of those excess baggage places where they charge you eight pounds to leave your luggage for 24 hours so you don’t have to lug it around with you while sight seeing. I bought an all day tube pass for all six zones with the pounds I had left over from two summers ago, and happily embarked on my little adventure. I arrived at Victoria station and decided to walk down to Westminster Abbey from there since I wanted to stretch out and also I wanted to see about something to eat as well as find an ATM. I have never had any problems with getting cash internationally, so imagine my surprise to find that both of my accounts had been frozen!

This presented quite a quandary as I had only about six pounds to my name, and only $1 in cash on me. I tried a few other ATM’s just to make sure that they were really and truly frozen, and then I found a phone booth and gave my mom a very brief call letting her know my predicament. I forgot it was New Years day and therefore it was unlikely that she would be able to do anything about it. I continued on down to the Abbey, and decided that I would ask at the gift shop for help finding an internet cafe so I could e-mail my mom my account info. I of course forgot to take into account the fact that my family was traveling that day and wouldn’t be able to do anything. I was told there was one on Trafalgar Square, so I left to head that way. As I walked out of the gift store I remembered that the Methodist Central Hall was right there, so I thought maybe I would see if someone there could help me out either with letting me use the phone, or perhaps giving me enough money to get my bag out of storage. Well, they too were closed! During this time I encountered a parade which I continued to meet as I went through the city. I decided to walk down past the houses of Parliament to reach the nearest tube station to Trafalgar square, and once I arrived I remembered the fact that my family was traveling, and therefore finding the internet cafe was a moot point. I also noticed that the National Gallery was closed.

So, I walked over and vainly tried another ATM, and while I was there, an middle aged man was using the one next to me. I said something like, “No!” or “Argh!” when this one too failed to yield any money, and he looked over at me and said, “Sorry.” I found myself telling him that I was just passing through and they had frozen my card and I was needed to call my mom. I must have looked really pittiful, becuase he looked at me, reached in his wallet, said, “In the spirit of the season,” and gave me a ten pound note. As he walked off I stood there stunned at his generosity and realized that now I had enough to get my bag out of storage as well as call my poor worried mother and tell her that I was alright.

I walked around some more, found myself on the banks of the Thames, went round the back side of the houses of Parliament, walked back up to Victoria station, and began the long ride back to Heathrow. Once I got there I redeemed my bag, went through security again, found my gate (Heathrow is the most annoying airport every—you have to go up and down and up and down and up and down again to get anywhere), and called my mom with most of the rest of my change. After that I easily found the Ronalds, the family who was going to take up to Sakeji with them, and we easily made our flight to Lusaka.

As I said in my e-mail, my seat mate was throwing up all night. It wasn’t great quantities, and he was pretty quiet about it, but it still was a little unsettling. I really should have asked to be moved like the girl in the row across from me. There was a big Zambian man sitting in the middle of her row, and she was feeling rather squashed. It turns out the girl on the other side of him was Beth who was is heading out to Sakeji, so we were all on the same flight. The girl who moved ended up doing the right thing as the Zambian proceeded to drink six bottles of wine, snore VERY loudly, and talk in his sleep all night. He was very talkative and chatted with me until I switched from the isle to the window seat (so my poor sick seatmate could get up easier) and then he talked with Beth and made it very hard for her to sleep.

We arrived in Lusaka about 6:40 in the morning, and all got through immigration in pretty good time and found to our delight that ALL our luggage had come through! This is a big deal as we had all checked it all the way though to Lusaka, and there was no telling where it might have been lost or damaged. I also found to my delight that my tub was still tied after my dad retied it in Nashville when they opened it during the security check. I ended up leaving the heavier tub behind, and now I’m kicking myself for not lightening it, but at the time I was just about at my limit of things I could deal with. Oh well, I’ll just get it sent out with my other stuff.

Tomorrow I will be working on getting my work permit paperwork done, trying to get my card sorted out, and doing some shopping before we had up to Sakeji on Tuesday morning. We will stay overnight at the Garnerton guest house in Kitwe on the Copper Belt before going the last leg up to Sakeji. We will be in the Ronald’s Land Cruiser which will be a bit crowded, but thankfully most of our luggage will be in a trailer. I guess we will try to pick up my mattress on out way if someone from the school hasn’t gotten it already. I’m so ready to just be home and not on the road anymore, but I’m sort of looking forward to the trip in a way. I’m enjoying the sights and smells of Zambia so much that getting to drink them in for two days doesn’t sound like that horrible of a prospect.

I’ll update again once I reach Sakeji, and hopefully I’ll have some pictures soon. Things have been a little crazy as we plan, get over jetlag, and take care of odds and ends. Just a few more days till I’m home!

1 comment:

  1. I'm really, really hoping we can get your card troubles sorted out ASAP! Hope you get to have a meat pie or sausage roll before you leave civilization!