Out of Goleta, California and into Africa via Atlanta, Georgia
June 13, 14, and 15, 2001
This wasn't just an eclipse trip out of town, it was a eclipse trip out of this world. Eclipses come and they go, about every 18 months to be exact. This eclipse trip, though, was very special.
The destinations? South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.
Africa! The Dark Continent. The African Queen! Zulu, Watusi and Gorillas in the Mist! Toto, this would not be Kansas.
Plus, a 44 pound baggage limit. Oh the trials and tribulations of weighing our baggage to be underweight.
June 13, 2001 - Goleta, California
Let's see, first we fly from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles, LAX for all you worldly travelers. That's easy enough. Except for one thing. Five minutes into the drive to airport I did not have my camera bag. And, inside the camera bag were the airline tickets!
Back to house. Yup, there was my camera bag in the driveway where I had left it.
As the cab driver left us at the airport he asked, "do you have everything?" I hope so. Next stop? Los Angeles and then on to Atlanta, Georgia.
LAX - Los Angeles International Airport
LAX was a piece of cake. We knew California based members of the expedition would be on our flight from LAX. Joan and I started a game. Who could they be? Was it that couple or that guy over there? When would we know? Answer? Easy, after boarding and on our way we found out who was part of our group. They were talking "eclipese!"
By the time we arrived in Atlanta we knew Bill and Anise and Ray and Karen. Eclipse Edge Expedition veterans. Our next task was to find the shuttle that would get us to our one night home in 'lanta, Georgia at the Fairfield Inn! Getting our baggage was easy. Navigating our way from baggage claim to the shuttle pick up was a challenge, not to mention the humidity. But, we made to the inn.
It's now 10;30+ pm eastern time for us westeners. We're tired, we're hungry. Everything is closed, except Chinese take-out. We go for it. After all, tomorrow is an international day.
June 14, 2001 - Hartsfield International Airport
I talk Joan into taking the first shuttle (5:30 am) to airport so we can beat the check in lines at the South Africa Airways counter. Hell, we even beat the ticket agents to their counter. They eventually show up and we check in our bags. Guess what, no one weighs our bags! Geez!
Time for breakfast. Hey, there's a Burger King over there and it's the only one open. Let's have breakfast.
As Joan waits in line a lady tells her she has her shirt inside out. I guess we were a bit in hurry to get to the airport.
After an All-American breakfast containing all the basic food groups we find ourselves at the gate for our flight. Here's what's in store for us:
Okay, here we are. Where's everyone else?
Let's see, over 8,000 miles with lunch, snack and breakfast. I think this will be a flight to remember.
We get airborne and we're off at around 11:30 EST. A few minutes late but it's an uneventful take-off. Next stop, Sal Island. Sal Island? Why? As it turns out with all the construction at Hartsfield our B-747-400 cannot use the long runway. If you can't use the long runway you can't take off with a full load of fuel, ergo, one must stop somewhere to top of the tanks. Where? Sal Island off the coast of western Africa, Senegal to be exact.
After many hours of flying we make a "dead of night" approach to Sal Island. It's now Friday, 6/15/2001, 4:44 am ( I have no idea who's time zone it is and I don't care!). A one hour layover to get "gas" allows us to stretch our legs. I think the 747 enjoyed the break too.
South African Airways Flight 9210 at Sal Island.
June 15, 2001 - Somewhere off the western coast of Africa. It has to be Friday, nothing else counts!
I'm wide awake as we leave the Sal Islands. Looking out the port (left) side of the plane I watch the moon rise. At 37,000 feet it's a beautful sight. Later on I see Venus slowly climbing up the sky. I know we've crossed the equator because the ecliptic is behind me. The moon light creates a strange shilouette of the plane's wing against the black of night. And, there's all that water down there.
Sunrise off the western coast of Africa. Cape Town is close by.
Cape Town. Table Mountain. Terminal at Johannesburg International Airport.
Yes, more flight time. Chuck Yeager would be envious. A two-engine turbo-prop flies us over the Kalahari Desert to Botswana. We're in Botswana. Botswana Customs and Immigration reminds us Santa Barbara. No fancy concourse walk ways here. We feel at home.
As we drive to Mowana Lodge the sunset is an introduction to the mysteries of Africa.
A Southern Ground Hornbill (bucorvus cafer) is the first African bird to greet us that evening.
It's almost 7:00pm Botswana time and we are tired. Sunset over the Chobe River.
Back to home.
© 2006 Anthony Galván III