Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Grahame and KK--Off on a Grand Adventure

Leopard in Africa (G. Dowling photo)

(It might not make sense, but this blog posting was written before the one up above...)

Grahame and KK are off on a grand adventure, and Grahame has taken me with them!  I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right.  My left leg did dangle out of the overhead compartment during the 14 hour flight-- but apparently, it was no cause for concern.  Grahame and his ‘carry on’ had already been vetted by airport security.  And then some!

Yes, two of my Australian friends are taking a 3 week vacation to Africa.  Their son Tony—a best-selling author of adventure novels set in the Dark Continent—lives there with his wife for six months out of the year. (Check out Tony at  You won’t be sorry!)  Grahame and KK have visited Tony and Nicola in the past, but this is the first time I’ve obtained a front row seat in the Land Cruiser.

See, Grahame recently purchased an iPad and he assured me that—once he bought a compatible ‘sim card’ in Jo-burg —he’d be able to email me directly from Africa and tell me of his adventures there.  For a woman whose idea of a ‘trip’ results in bruises and mild embarrassment, this is a wonderful opportunity to share in an experience which I’ll most likely never get to have, first-hand.  When I asked Grahame if he’d mind if I wrote about his African escapades, he glommed onto the idea like a slug to a petunia leaf.  (He describes himself as a bit of a ‘poseur’—and who am I to argue?)

The first missive I received was written from 28,000 feet while he was winging his way to Africa on a Qantas flight.  He described in detail his experiences with Immigration/ Customs, and I read his words with a combination of amusement and irritation. 

“We went straight through check-in and immigration/customs; very pleasing, no delays… but then I got pulled aside by a big beefy customs/security guy who gave me a printed notice to read, saying that they were going to frisk/search me and my ‘carry on’ bag… and that if necessary they would need to take a specimen off me (where from or what of was not specified) and if I objected to any of the process I would be taken to a room to be interrogated and/or ‘body searched’ if necessary....!!!

“I of course said ‘okay’ so I was frisked all over and patted down; I had to hold my arms out straight and have my armpits checked, my shoes were checked and then a hand scanner was run all over me and my bag, as well.

“All very exciting...I don't know why I was singled out as the only one from the people passing through but I wonder if my name is on their watch list after you tried to send contraband potatoes...very strange, very strange!

“I then asked if KK had to be checked out also and he said no—it was just me they were interested in.  Hmmm...  So I was obviously a ‘person of interest’ to them… and I can only think 'potato smuggler' (or I look suspicious; to which KK [when I asked what she thought] said I looked a bit shifty.)”

Hmmph!  If you knew of Grahame’s innate kindness and mild-mannered temperament, the very thought that he might be a danger to anyone would cause you to shake your head in wonder.  And he certainly doesn’t look like a suspicious character!  He is a good-looking, presentable bloke and I have it on good authority (his) that he only wears support hose when embarking on a long trip.

Regarding the unfortunate incident Grahame mentioned concerning potatoes and smuggling and ‘watch lists’….well, that’s ancient history.  A misunderstanding and nothing more.  I’ve long-since made up with the good people at Aussie Customs and have forgiven them for destroying the spuds of my labor. 

Grahame and KK arrived safely in Africa, but their 10:00 a.m. take-off was delayed for quite a long time.  The captain first reported that they were waiting for six passengers on a connecting flight from Melbourne that had been delayed.  Fifteen minutes later those passengers had been seated but due to the delay, the jet in line behind them was given their place in the queue.  The captain then reported that that plane had broken down on the runway (which could rattle the confidence of the calmest and most frequent of fliers) and it was going to have to be towed away before they could depart.  By the time it was hauled from the field, 11 more flights had jumped ahead of them in line.

At 11:20 a.m. the captain came over the intercom to inform passengers that they were ready for take-off and he instructed the crew to perform the ‘safety precaution drill’.  To add a bit of spice to the flight, the head steward then picked up the microphone and announced that ' due to a failure of our visual equipment the safety drill will not be able to be seen on screen, but we'll give instruction over the intercom while you watch the staff go through the drills.'

On the plus side, Qantas doesn’t skimp on the alcoholic beverages, and my friends were soon relaxing with ample amounts of Chardonnay at 5 miles up.

Grahame had reserved the ‘exit seats’ to ensure that he and KK had plenty of leg room during the flight.  He commented that it was ‘worth it’, even if there was one drawback. 

“They're next to the toilets, which is 'icky' when the line forms up in front of you-- but okay when you need to go yourself, as the door is only 3 steps away.”

As you can see, this adventure is sure to be fraught with excitement and danger and I’m thrilled to be living it vicariously and sharing it with you.  As of this writing, my friends have arrived at Tony and Nicolas’ home.  The first exotic African animal they came into contact with?  A bush baby.  One who eats mandarins—preferably pre-peeled.
Bush Baby at Tony's (G. Dowling photo)

Stay tuned.  Hippos and elephants have been spotted and Grahame and KK have already had some wonderful photos ops.  They’ve also been instructed on how to deal with baboons which are skilled at Breaking and Entering. 

Now, that’s more like it!

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