The first flight of my second round-the-world trip in as many years (I can't believe it either) was Johannesburg to Sao Paulo. I have spent a lot of time flying but was still more than a little surprised to recognize the flight attendants on this flight. They appeared to recognize me too: at one point I asked one if she'd mind if I had some tea, and she said "Sure, help yourself" and directed me into the attendant's galley where I helped myself.
But not without feeling very odd about it.
So far I've found the service on South African Airways flights to be very friendly and helpful, I'd recommend them on that basis. The admin side of this flight was a different story though. Dealing with SAA Voyager, for example is absolutely atrocious and makes me think that actually, reporting an incident at the South African Police maybe isn't as bad as I'd thought.
My flight was not a proper connecting flight (different carriers. And I'd like to say right now, again, that I am not impressed with the SAA call centre. NOT impressed.). This meant I had to go through passport control, clear customs and be re-frisked. I was very glad that South Africans can enter Brazil without a visa or else I'd have had a big shopping to do when I get into Argentina, because I wouldn't have been able to collect my luggage - one has to clear through passport control before you can do any luggage collection!
I'm sitting in the Sao Paulo airport now at my gate killing time until its time to go to Buenos Aires. A guy looking exactly like Andre Ellis has just walked past and weirded me out again. It's 19h08 and the sun is still in the sky, and I'm sipping a fruit smoothie that tastes like drips of heaven. Aaaaah :)
I don't really have any expectations for this trip beyond chilling out a lot. I'm so looking forward to it..
The first leg of my round-the-world trip was an SAA flight which turned out to travel via Senegal. I was a bit confused at the stop and still freshly irate at having had my dry underarm dry-stick deodorant confiscated. Dove (symbol of peace!) - they feared that I might bring down this Boeing with it. I suppose the terrorists might charge at the pilots of the plane with just such a dry stick as what I had had confiscated, and rub it in their eyes so that they wouldn't be able to see clearly where they were going for 24 hours (only the best dry stick would do for this cause) causing them to crash the plane and kill us all.
When we landed in Senegal I asked the air hostess whether we would be leaving the plane at all. She laughed and said, "Don't be mad - if we did that we'd surely return find the wheels stolen from the plane.".
I had been told all sorts of terrifying stories about arrivals in New York about power-tripping officials that made my skin crawl. And I was expecting to be cavity-searched. A full cavity search may have been more pleasant than what I actually got: a greasy official at passport control called Ramos (I am unsure whether this was his first, last, or /only/ name) hitting on me. After inspecting all my documentation, scanning my important bits (eyes and fingertips) he yelled across passport control to his friend: "HEY, check this out! From South Africa traveling alone around the world!". The friend came over, they both looked me up and down and paged through my passport, and Ramos offered his sevices to me as a bodyguard. Since i was not officially through passport control yet, I held back on my urge to hiss and cuss at the guy, and forced a smile, snatched back my passport and left.
Finally in New York City. First time in the United States! Such a muddle of thoughts and feelings: excited and overwhelmed, exhausted (and feeling kind of icky due to confiscation of dry stick), a little lonely and a lot confused. The start of the most massive adventure of my whole life.