So our wake up call got me out of my deep sleep just before 7am. Shower. Put on the same clothes I wore yesterday. Go down to the restaurant. Big buffet. I heap a pile of bacon next to my scrambled eggs and wash it all down with some great fresh coffee.
The shuttle bus back to the airport is packed. We line up and go through customs in no time — although the Schiphol Airport is a huge and busy airport, everything seems so smooth and efficient. Before you know it we’re in the departure lounge, and soon after that we’re making our way down the airplane aisles, dragging our one carry-on suitcase all the way to row 40 near the back of the plane.
But the seats seemed more comfortable — more legroom, great TV, all good. We took off almost as soon as we were buckled in. Slick. I quickly tuned in one of the ‘new release’ movies and so did Sue. Then came swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes, IKEA-style. More movies. A bit of dozing. Pizza for supper. The 11.5-hour trip seemed easier than the 8-hour cross-Atlantic flight.
We arrived at the Cape Town airport at around 10pm, about a half hour early. We quickly frittered away that bonus time in the long queue winding its way to the passport control. Then we picked up our bags and headed out. Sue spotted the big 300-lb taxi driver holding a paper with ‘Rudy & Sue’ handwritten on it. We dragged our golf bag and suitcases out to his waiting cab. Twenty minutes (and 220 Rand, $19CAD) later he had us at our apartment on York Street. I unloaded our bags, paid the cabbie, and dragged our stuff to the waiting gate.
And that’s where the first hiccup of the day began. The gate was locked. It looked like we would need a card or a fob to swipe it to open. We didn’t have that. We DID have instructions on how to get into the #12 mailbox, how to open up the combination lock inside that mailbox, and how to find our way up the stairs to our apartment. But we were on the wrong side of the gate. Oh oh. What do we do now?
I wandered to the other end of the building and took out my phone. No phone card here, but I soon connected to Peter’s wifi — his apartment was just one floor up from the street. Once I had that I looked up his phone number in Toronto and Skype-phoned him. He was surprised to hear form me — he was in a meeting — but when I explained our situation he quickly gave me his full attention. No, don’t go down the street and check into a hotel. We’ll get you into the apartment. He wasn’t expecting the gate to be locked, and he really wasn’t expecting us to arrive there this late. (I DID email him our new itinerary but I guess he read arriving at noon rather than at midnight.)
Well, Peter and I both tried calling and texting his contact here in Cape Town, but that didn’t get us anywhere. Our bodyguard, the big cab driver, hung around and waited — he didn’t have anymore fares for the night and we felt safer out on the dark street with him standing next to us.
Finally I took out two golf clubs, my driver and an iron, and used one of my bungee cords to tie them into a long pole which I stuck through the iron grate and stretched as far as I could to ring each of the addresses on the buzzer inside the entrance. No one answered — at least we didn’t hear anyone answer. Besides, it was now after midnight and any of the tenants in our building probably wouldn’t be too pleased to make our acquaintance at this time of night anyway.
I went back to the front section of the building, under Peter’s apartment where my wifi signal was strongest. I looked up at the third floor apartment above ‘ours’ and saw the lights were on and the patio door was partially open. I called out, ‘hello?’. And then two you ladies came out on the balcony — and I explained my situation and asked them to please let me in the door. And one of them came down and opened the gate for us. Whew!
The cabbie left us. We gathered our bags and hauled them up to our apartment. Hot in here. We opened the doors and windows, turned on the fans. I emailed Peter to let him know we were in. He called right back on the landline into the apartment. He too was completely flustered and anxious. He’d left his meeting early and run back to his office where he was now looking up hotels for us for tonight. So we talked and calmed down a bit and he gave me instructions on how to get his car going (tomorrow).
In the meantime Sue found 2 open bottles of white wine in the fridge which we easily finished before turning in for the night. All that frenzied action at the end of our day — we were still up at 2:30am, me writing my blog entry and Sue catching up on what Margaret Daley-Wiebe had going on Facebook.
Finally, the rooms were cooled down, the wine was all gone, the streets were all quiet. I took out my contacts and went to bed. Tomorrow will be another day. Another ‘beginning’.
Today’s News: The loonie closed below 70 cents US.