First of all, I’ve arrived in Blantyre, Malawi safe and well. It would be tempting to say that the journey was plain sailing and that everything went without a hitch – that would be a lie.
So arriving at Edinburgh airport went rather smoothly – Emma and Gretta took me. Checking in and finding the gate was straightforward, then the fun begins. The flight is delayed due to thunderstorms over Heathrow, meaning that the plane wasn’t allowed to take off. We were delayed by about an hour which meant I would have a rather hurried transfer to catch my flight to Johannesburg. What I (and no one else on the flight) banked on was one of the windscreen panels of the plane cracking, meaning we ended up flying at 10,000ft and a tad slower.
We made it to Heathrow, though the plane did have a golf ball sized hole in the windscreen. Then the fun really began, I made a mad dash through passport control and security to get into the departure lounge- that was when I realised I was to get to the furthest away gate of terminal 1 in less than the time it would take to walk through duty free.
Ever seen a film with someone doing a mad dash to catch their flight – well that was me. There were announcements out for me to go to the gate (believe me I was going as quick as I could). Then there were ground staff at the gate waiting to escort me to the plane. I made it by the skin of my teeth and the captain even sounded surprised that I had managed it. I found my seat, sat down and promptly wondered why I was on another plane. By that time we were taxying along the runway and I had no way back.
The flight to Johannesburg was calm in comparison, not much turbulence and no broken windscreens. When I told one of the flight attendants why I was delayed so much, they looked at me as if I was mad – “and you ran for your connection?” one said with surprise. I slept for a good chunk of the flight and arrived in Johannesburg in good time.
I got through security and then the fun began trying to find my gate for the flight to Blantyre – with all the boards saying different things, I took a guess and ended up at the right one, got on board and took a deep breath. The flight to Blantyre was a smooth as the long haul flight and landing at Blantyre airport was rather a relief. The airport is small and once I got through immigration and goods control, I found my way to the entrance. There was someone with a piece cardboard with “Ms Alli” written on it.
A 20 minute drive later and I was at Chez Maky, being greeted by the owner and shown to my room by a multitude of staff. It’s a double and en-suite, has mosquito nets and seems rather well equipped – just a shame about the lack of hot water! (don’t worry there is plenty of cold water).
I’ve had a quick tour of Blantyre by a fellow guest (who is also Scottish). Karen has popped in to see me and I plan on spending tomorrow trying to get to know my new home and plan my research. – or maybe I’ll just take a very extended holiday!