Sun 10 Apr-Stranded at the airport

We were up bright and early to get me on my flight to Ndola. I’d left behind the one credit card I needed – the one I booked this flight with. Luckily John was with me and the card numbers are the same so I was ok to check in. Had a coffee and then said goodbye as I go to Zambia for 2 weeks and John heads home later in the day. Took a good 45 mins to get through security and customs as there weren’t many lanes open which gave less boring sitting around time. We boarded the bus and stood there for a good 20mins and then off to the plane.

It’s a little plane but at least it’s not propellers. They take away a lot of cabin baggage that doesn’t fit but my lowepro bag seemed to be built just for these overhead compartments. It fit perfectly..any bigger and it would have been stowed too. 2 1/2 hours later and we land at Ndola airport then through customs. Had a bit of hassle with my passport as she was convinced that the Australian ones had to have the chip in them. I explained mine was the older version and is still valid and she finally decided it was ok to let me in. My baggage made it fine and my phone gets a signal ok at the moment so sent sms to John to let him know I was ok. So I’m feeling pretty good, ready to start the next part of my holiday.

As I exit customs, I look for the African Impact sign waiting to pick me up…it’s nowhere to be seen. I scan the crowd for my name on a sign maybe…not there either. I’ve gotten out pretty quickly so I figure they’re coming soon so stand and wait. After half and hour there is just the staff, me and a south african guy around. I’m fending off the taxi drivers convincing them..yes..i’m being picked up. I try the numbers i’ve been given. First one rings’s the landline..they must be on their way. The 2nd number is missing a digit…dammit.

After an hour I’ve sat down on my bag waiting….and some of the staff approach me to help. The take me to the airline office and try the number…rings out. I keep trying every 20 mins or so hoping someone will answer and keep scanning the crowd hoping for my lift to arrive. 2 hrs goes by…still nothing. Getting a little concerned now. After 3 hours the last flight of the day has gone and no more are coming in so all the staff are leaving. I don’t want to sit at an empty airport with nobody around for a lift that might never arrive so I have to decide if I want to risk driving all the way to Chimfunshi for nobody to be there or stay the night in town and try and sort out the issue in the morning when the African Impact office is open.

I don’t want to drive into the middle of nowhere and find nobody there and be really stuck..what if my phone doesn’t work there…so the airline staff hook me up with a taxi and recommend a lodge close by that has some internet so I can shoot off a few emails. I get taken to Chabanga Lodges and manage to shoot off an email with my location and hotel phone number.

This place has internet and a restaurant so at least I can have some food and check my mail in the morning to see if anyone has responded. Didn’t look up the currency here before I left as I was expecting to only need US$ so makes ordering dinner fun when you don’t know how much you’re spending. I think 100,000 (whatever the currency name is) is about $22 based on my quick conversion of the room price. They are picky about any imperfections in the notes though so putting everything on the room tab so I can just pay for food and internet in one go tomorrow.So now I guess I wait the night, check my mail in the morning and call the head office and work out what to do next. Not the nicest start to this part of the trip for sure.

I thought travelling along wouldn’t be too bad. I’ve straight away found the bad side. When something goes wrong with your plan you’re all alone.