Friday, February 22, 2008

WC: On My Way to Africa--But Not There Yet

I'm sitting at a computer at a hotel in England, not far from Heathrow airport. I decided not to go on the birding trip here, since I'm tired and was just not in the mood. Instead, I've been dozing in the hotel retaurant, trying valiantly, but unsuccessfully, to stay awake. (Some of my co-travelers booked rooms here, but I didn't, since I was planning to go birding with Andrea and a few others.)

Let us now take a moment to be impressed by technology. I mean, I'm in England! And you're reading this in the U.S. And tomorrow I'll be in Africa.

Yesterday, I met Andrea at her place, and her friend Lorraine was to drive us to the airport. But her car wouldn't stop, so we got a lift from her carpenter/contractor person, who practically lives with her. He has a van, with few seats, so Lorraine grabbed a box that was on the sidewalk as rubbish to sit on. The highlight of the trip was Lorraine sinking, oh so slowly, as the box gave way, laughing her head off.

The flight over was on a 747, which I don't think I've ever flown on before. To get to our seats, first they sent us past the spiral staircase leading up to the rich people's airplane heaven. Then we went through the downstairs not-so-rich people's area, which includes diagonal cubicles, each equipped with a comfy reclining seat and an ottoman and privacy. And then we passed the classy-economy section, with standard business class seats. Finally, we got to steerage, where we were seated.

Many of my co-travelers ended up with bulkhead or exit row seats and footroom--I did not. There was decent footroom, but the distance from seat arm to seat arm was just barely more than my distance from hip to hip. Andrea had an empty seat next to her (we didn't sit together)--I did not. But the English woman next to me was pleasant, quiet, and thin, for all of which I was quite grateful.

I sort of slept. My feet were restless and I couldn't stay still. And then there was the repeated hot flash/cold clammy cycle, with the sweater on and off and on and off. (I am sure that the woman next to me would not speak as favorably of me as I just did of her.) Yet, for all that, I did sleep some and the trip went quickly.

Breakfast was a choice of biscuits (cookies) or muffin. I took the muffin since that is one of the little cheats I allow myself in my abstinence from desserts. But it was a double-chocolate muffin, and even I cannot convince myself that is breakfast food. I asked the flight attendant if they had anything for people who didn't eat junk food, but they didn't. Oh well.

My co-travelers are an interesting bunch. One married couple (Ann and Dexter), one mom-daughter pair (Eileen and Shari), a few women traveling solo (Marsha, Carol, Marian), our zoologist guide guy (Don), and our travel guy (Dave). Yay, I remembered their names!

They all seem very nice--one has already volunteered to teach me how to pee on the Serengeti. And boy are they interested in birds! They sound like my theatre friends and I discussing Sondheim.

On the shuttle from the airport to this hotel, Andrea and I came up with songs with birds in them. Green Finch and Linette Bird was the winner for sheer volume. A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square. Meadowlark. Then I suggested, His Friends Are More Than Found of Robin and Owl Be Seeing You. Andrea replied with, Emu Something to Me and To Everything Tern Tern Tern.

In the hotel restaurant, I had lunch and then a lovely cup of tea (I'm in England!). Afterward, I went to the ladies room and passed a standing machine, looking much like an ATM or computer kiosk, where one could print one's photos. Someone had a left a photo up of his forshortened body--he was obviously pointing down at himself--with his penis as the central item. His uncircumsized penis. (I'm in England!)

In a couple of hours, we'll head back to the airport and get on Kenya Airways to Nairobi.

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