Friday, October 27, 2017

Into Africa

Relentlessly innumerate, as ever, I am unable to work out if this year my birthday will be longer or shorter than normal. I begin this trip on the day before, and then fly westwards to Dubai, so that means delaying the click-over, right? But when I exit the plane’s space-time disconnect, and the airport clocks show that it’s really early on my birthday, my next step then is to fly to Nairobi which is an hour behind. So do I get more birthday, or less? More, right?

It’s all academic, anyway. It’s only me who knows, unless I strike a particularly alert check-in clerk. So, a touch melancholy, you’re thinking? Nah, not when you’ve had as many birthdays as I have now, and when the travel that’s consuming this one is taking me to see GORILLAS!

So, this is what’s happening: I’m currently on an Emirates A380, descending to Dubai after a 16+ hour non-stop flight from Auckland, most of which I have spent luxuriously prostrate in my walnut-veneered little pod with all its hi-tech bells and whistles. Lucky sod that I am, this is about my fifth (complimentary) business-class flight with Emirates, so the novelty of the stand-up bar at the back, the comfort, the service, the excellent food and wine, all that, no longer has that thrilling novelty. So I shook my head at frequent offers of champagne, skipped most of the dinner, didn’t have a single cocktail at the bar, and mainly slept. I KNOW! What a waste, eh?

Especially since the next couple of weeks there will be no such comforts to enjoy. No, on my Intrepid basix-level overland camping trip there will be long days in an un-aircon truck with fold-down windows to let in all the dust from the unsealed roads. There will be a tent with sleeping bag and a yoga mat, now and then a dormitory, rarely a hot shower, chores to take turns at with cooking and cleaning, and full-on contact with 21 other guests.


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So now that I’m ensconced in one of Emirates’ Business class lounges at the huge and futuristic sprawl that is Dubai airport, I’m making the most of what luxury still remains. A shower, Bircher muesli for my birthday breakfast, and a proper coffee. It’s busy here, despite the early hour, cosmopolitan, sophisticated, wired-up, comfortable, efficient. Everything that the next couple of weeks will most definitely not be. Bring it on!

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