Friday 27 October 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.

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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