45 DEGREES IN AN IRON HANGOVER HANGER !          - 8/10/2008      <--Prev : Next-->

If you need entertainment in Zimbabwe, book a trip on an Air Zimbabwe flight.

Times are tight with Air Zim (Scare Zim some folk call it )

They are pretty short of planes and its becoming rather obvious. How they juggle their pilots and planes is anybody's guess, and trust me , it is a GIANT GUESS !!

They say the country is in melt down, well we were in total melt down last Wednesday in more ways than one..... when we were booked to fly to Johannesburg.

Now HeeHoo and I are quite used to flight delays, we settle down with our electronic toys and can keep ourselves completely absorbed for many hours, but this was rather different.

For example the Bulawayo Airport is still situated in an old metal aircraft hanger, and has been since time immemorial.

Air conditioning ? Nah ...... Catering ? nah ..... Cold drinks on sale ? nah ....

With perspiration pouring down our backs, we all made lifelong friends with one another , and did as Zimbabweans are wont to do ... made the best of it....

The pilot needed some rest we were told initially, then it was too hot for the Chinese propellor plane to take off, and so on and so forth ....

It must have been 45 degrees in mid October, dehydration set in and there on the shelf in the bar fridge were some vaguely cold bottles of water but we just could not afford them !!

We pooled our cash and managed to round up 8 thousand Zimbabwe dollars, one tiny bottle of water however was 9 thousand Zimbabwe dollars.

Gasp gasp, lets pay in forex we suggested tentatively but the bank rate would have made the bottled water prohibitively expensive and so I cupped my mouth around the tap in the bathroom instead ..... praying that the Matsheumhlope River Gut Rot God was too far away to affect me !!

Five hours into the torrid wait a complimentary crate of tepid bitter lemon and lemonade was dumped unceremoniously on the floor in the middle of the departure lounge and we all rushed frantically to grab one, searching furiously in our baggage for an opener.

Six hours into the torrid wait, some wilting cheese and tomato sambos were passed around gingerly, with the ground staff standing guard to see no one took more than his or her share !! Nothing even remotely edible for sale in the shop, even if one could possibly afford it !!

Eventually HeeHoo made an executive decision and sent for the company Food and Beverage Manager, Noel aka "HeeHoo Must Provide Liquid Refreshment. " ...... A giant polypropylene sack full of ice cold Castles arrived and our party began ....

After an extraordinarily lengthy wait , as dusk fell, (now remember we had been there since 8 am !! ) we were at last poured onto the bus, which drove at high speed towards the now cool plane, only to be told that no, sorry , mistake, that plane was now going to Harare instead.

Patience had now run out totally, and several passengers argued loudly with the Scare Zim staff while HeeHoo and Barry doggedly but surreptitiously pushed the baggage train towards the loading ramp of the plane !!

Having none of that we were unceremoniously bundled back into the bus and returned to the hangover hanger !!

The Harare lot were rather snooty about commandeering our plane and haughtily embarked, we forgave them however, as many had a connection to London that night, and we returned to our perch on the baggage carts under the stars. Besides we were having far too much fun !

At least it was cooler now and some wag had found his way secretly into a fridge at the back and was providing us with purloined cold cold beers !!

Anxious eyes scanned the darkening sky looking for the jet, which was now promised to take us to Johannesburg. There were a couple of Traditional Healers on the plane heading for a conference in Joburg and maybe they used some of their magic to conjure up a plane at long last to take us on our merry way !!

Question ? Did the left hand actually know what the right hand was doing ? Sadly the phrase "Headless chicken" comes to mind .......

We pray for better days once again and remember longingly when Air Zimbabwe was known as "the Jewel of Africa."