Monday, 19 May 2008

John's great adventure: Chapter 2

Sunday May 18th, Gaborone, Botswana

(And by the way, it is pronounced Haboronay)

When was the last time you did something for the first time? I’ve flown as far south as Tunisia before, but never to the southern hemisphere so I arrived at Terminal 3 (not T5 – how lucky was that?) in good time. Virgin check-in was easy and I was in the departure lounge with hours to spare. A not very good hot chocolate from Starbucks and a very acceptable glass of wine at O’Brien’s later and it was time to board. Straight on – great this is easy. Two minutes to 2030 departure time and there’s a commotion at the front – a passenger has had a ‘medical situation’. Unfortunately for the passenger he/she had to be seen by paramedics and was taken off the plane. Finally at 2115 we are ready to go.

I didn’t sleep much on the 10½ hour flight to Johannesburg but we arrived in good time for the transfer flight to Gaborone. Transfer completed easily – time for a coffee. No Rand! I gingerly reached for the credit card having watched the Watchdog programme the other day, which said credit card companies had a habit of stopping ‘unusual’ transactions – and a sale at Jo’burg airport, would certainly come into that category!

Older readers or younger readers who know a good thing may remember that wonderful monologue by Michael Flanders from ‘At the Drop of a Hat’ (or it might have been ‘Another Hat’ – I forget) in which he outlines the potential perils of boarding a plane. ‘Off we go on the mystery bus tour to the middle of the field’, ‘a nice lady tells you what to do if you come down in the water’ and ‘when it’s time to go and its chocks away, the whole plane starts to shake – it’s like a cat after a pigeon’. Well that all describes perfectly the small plane that completed the final leg from Jo’burg to Gaborone.

Gaborone isn’t the busiest airport in the world – in fact we were the only plane on the tarmac. Getting through immigration was easy and my 3 minders were there to meet me. The minibus arrived and it was time for lunch – very pleasant. We talked about the state of the game in Botswana at various levels – young, club and national but unlike the EBU the Botswana Bridge Federation (BBF) does get some state funding – not enough to fund everything but at least they get something.

I’m staying in a very nice apartment with two double beds and a double Jacuzzi/corner bath. The weather is fine today – about 20 degrees.

Answers to my quiz.
1 Gaborone is the capital
2. The currency is the pula (BWP) made up of 100 thebe. 100 BWP is about £11/
3. The President is Seretse Khama Ian Khama – the son of the first president Sir Seretse Khama.
4 They drive on the left.
5. I need 3 pin round plugs to make my computer work.

Further information on my travels can be found

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