Friday, August 30, 2013

Our Last Night In Africa

Through something of a comedy of errors, we ended up eating our final dinner in Africa back at A'Zambesi River Lodge. As it turned out, that was a good choice.

Our helicopter company had to shuttle us into town to take our payment by credit card and we had decided to have a light meal there.

Kathy had left her share of our US funds in the safe in our room, and the place we had decided on for a light dinner didn't accept credit cards. Attempts at four ATM machines leave us with the impression that HSBC doesn't do business with Zimbabwe, so we took a taxi back to our hotel.

Brian was getting a wee bit nervous about how much cash we had and... we couldn't open our room safe.

A visit to the front desk led to their looking for the master key and eventually to a procession of dignitaries to our room nearly 30 minutes later - a manger, a safe-opener, and a female security officer who took notes of the proceedings.

The official safe-opener managed to open it with a key and then figured out that the problem was a mechanical one with the safe, not our lapse of memory (Praise Be!).

In the morning, we'll open the safe bright and early, just in case.

We were able to order a la carte tonight (eschewing the ubiquitous buffet) and enjoyed the quasi-authentic African entertainment, interrupted by a trio of elephants eating their way through trees at the edge of the restaurant.

In truth, it was a magical evening. Our young Australian acquaintance, Amy, arrived just as we were about to leave, sharing descriptions of her magical "lion encounter" tour today as we described our helicopter tour.

And the dinner itself? A delicious soup for Kathy featuring cheese and morninga, a beef salad for Brian, braised warthog for Kathy in a tomato sauce and Cajun Chicken for Brian (speaking of chicken). During dinner we were entertained some authentic-looking dances and enthusiastic renditions of The Lion Sleeps Tonight and When The Saints Go Marching In, among other African classics. Brian, sympathetic to the dancers being upstaged by a trio of elephants munching on the trees adjacent to the restaurant, even bought a CD.

Tomorrow promises to be a long day... a taxi to the airport at 11:30 a.m., a flight to JNB at 1:50 p.m., a multi-hour layover, during which we pick up our larger suitcase from the Intercontinental and check it, a flight to LHR, a three to four layover, and a flight LHR-YVR, about 24 hours in the air not counting layovers followed by a drive home in the midst of Labor Day weekend.

It's worth it.

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