PREFACE: From November 18 to December 23, 2008, I traveled to and in South Africa for my third summer during that year: our (Barbara and Harry Ashley, Mercia and Ben Oostdam) first tour was in Jan/Feb - during the southern hemisphere summer - reported here. Then there was the pleasant summer at home in Conestoga, PA, which lasted almost to the end of October. At that time someone asked me what I had done this summer ... before I was tempted to answer "Nothing", I asked "what do you mean, this summer?" and expanded: "I spent my first summer in South Africa, the second in America....and I could have a third summer this year if I wanted to..."
So the next day I found in my Email a notice of cheaper airfare to Capetown if booked before the end of the day. So I did just that!! ...
It is now a sunny President's Day here in Conestoga, Feb 16, 2009, and I just completed almost two months of preparing day by day photo reports of my second SA 2008 journey, but only the part from December 5 to 23, 2008. Why did not I start with November 18? Because somehow I lost the CD of the first three weeks, onto which I had had some 1,000 photographs transfered when I reached Bloemfontein - where I also had bought a new $ 99 new Fujifilm digital A850 camera, #8UN45776 (just in case..) By now all hope of retrieving the CD - which I had packed carefully with my old camera in the new camera box - is gone, so I will have to use a million words, figuring a thousand words for each of the lost thousand pictures, to report the time frame from November 18 to December 5 , 2008....

Ben Oostdam's


November 18 to December 5

much abbreviated and expurgated -
especially where original was illegible

November 18, 2008 Tuesday: 05:38 sitting here with Mercia, Erika and Mark (of My Facebook fame)and three packed bags waiting for Steve to pick me up and deliver me at Phila Airport. We had a nice drive through Amish country, Strasburg with its famous railroad and trainride and Gap,

please click to enlarge
Satellite Map of Millersville - 741 - Willow Street - Strasburg (=red balloon) - Gap -
- 41 - Toughkennamon - 1 - 322 - Cdr B Br - 95 - Chester - Phila Airport

Gap Town Clock

past the Commodore Barry bridge where we experienced our only traffic jam and I bored Steve with my tale of the Zodiac launched there into the Delaware River and the current running the wrong way (Story # 117).

I went through E-ticket check-in and inspection just after 08:00, enjoying getting rid of two bags checked through to Capetown as well as the ease afforded taking off my "airport-friendly" shoes, proudly displaying my plastic bag with fluids and explaining why my silver pressure stocking set off the alarm. I ended up very prematurely in the departure hall with a big sign of Phila Mayor Michael Nutter welcoming me to his town. Spent some time going thrugh my luggage and recording all items and documents, just in case, then flew to JFK on a small commuter plane over very bright and picturesque New Jersey including coast - recalled I had dozens of photographs from a past flight, so kept camera in bag.
At JFK, I took a courtesy drive which appeared to be almost a mile, chatting with a fellow passenger, an Armenian woman with 25 months old baby, flying to her parents in Belorussia while her US husband was serving as soldier in Iraq and had not seen the baby since it was 2 months old - I told her we were proud of him, and her, too! Talking about war, right after we settled in the departure hall we were rudely evacuated from the building because of a bomb scare. We were sent outside and I did feel a bit like a Jewish concentration camp victim the more since my new companion was a Jewish doctor Schi ... now from Cincinnati but on his way to Capetown for his 50th reunion. After a long wait and all kinds of rumors, we were allowed back in but had to go through the entire check-in and inspection procedure again. I ran into the same tall female security officer, Daphne Shezak, at least five times at different stages, once when a Ms Rhein, another security guard, stopped me from taking an obvious shortcut. By then I was rather hungry and stopped for a $ 4 (only) whopper, trying to help another fellow passenger who asked for a glass of water but was told that the only thing he could get was a $ 1.80 small bottle of (mineral? not vegetable) water. I also noted a spirited air hostess flirting with a pilot while sitting at a table displaying her legs. My observation must have been good, because when I finally got on the plane I recognized my air hostess subconsciously and only from her legs ... other interesting body parts were on display by a happily unembarrassed Senegalese beauty nursing a baby from New York airport to Dakar while I was having an hours - long conversation with her husband, Diargo, who was sitting between us and invited me to be his guest and see his Internet Office in Dakar.
Anyhow, the flight appeared shorter than its actual 9 hours.
Part of that was also because of Parker, a 12 year old boy who was excited about the safari they were going to take under the auspices of his grandfather (recall I also have a grandson named Parker) and who laboriously wrote all names of his fellow family passengers in my journal. [arrival Dakar 200811190430, after 3,850 mile flight; In Capetown it is 2 hours later, but our ETA there is about 16:30...]
We learned some Wolof words:
langadef=how are you
hopnala=I love you
maleraw=same to you.

I supplement this now with some proverbs:

  • The partridge loves peas, but not those that go into the pot with it.

  • When you see a palm tree, the palm tree has seen you.

  • When you see a turtle on top of a fence post, you know he had some help.
  • November 19, 2008 Wednesday: We spent an hour waiting in Dakar while huge black security officers speaking French mixed with their own language went through all storage spaces in a most thorough and polite fashion. By contrast, the leg from Dakar to Capetown, also some nine hours, was uneventful showing the same movies over and over again while neglecting to show flight information.