Wild About Africa

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Britains big freeze – waiting for Josh


It’s minus 8 degrees and 3 days of waiting has finally ended. A flight from San Diego, landed in Philly, then diverted to Orlando (not London), and arrived with passengers but not their luggage. Nice! Thanks US Airways!

Joshua arrived with only the underwear on his butt and they have been there for 3 days already. His luggage has gone awol. Despite the sub zero temperatures outside, he would not be seen dead in any of the warm clothes I brought to the airport for him. We left thousands of others waiting for friends and family at Gatwick, listening to the robotic voice making a global apology about the extraordinary delays. There wasn’t even a seat for people to sit on and the ridiculous Christmas tree took up so much space that we were all crammed together like sardines. The arrivals hall wasn’t even heated. Christmas cheer my ass. I’m surprised there wasn’t a riot.  I had a good 2 hours wait and used it to practice mind over body (standing position in the blistering cold), and to study people.

Arriving passengers came through the arrivals avenue in bulges, as if they were being dumped out in lorry loads. You could tell where everyone was from by their behaviour, and clothes. I watched a black woman and her daughter lurching in the middle  of one bulge, with everyone jostling and overtaking them. They had to be Nigerians. When they finally emerged I could see that they were struggling with a totally oversized and overstuffed suitcase. I don’t think it could even fit on a trolley, or perhaps the mother was too stingy to pay for one.

The black suitcase had the profile of two Kenyan policeman standing back to back, a low pregnant bulge on either side. The mother was pulling on a ridiculous strap, while the daughter pushed from behind. The undersized and rather bent suitcase wheels were not exactly making it easy and the bag swung back and forth as the pair strained. It looked like  they were trying to get an unwilling cow to the market.

I wondered what was in that case and imagined plastic bags filled with heads of monkeys, duikers, porcupines, and other bushmeat … I even looked behind to see if there was a trail of blood, by now their Christmas feast must have defrosted given the 2 day flight delay. How boring, there wasn’t.

They glared at the welcoming crowd in arrivals. I’m sure we were all wondering the same thing. Who in the world makes such gigantic suitcases? Certainly not China – I mean the case was as tall as a chinese person. Unless they are designed for people trafficking – they could stack their clients in standing position. The Chinese are so resourceful.

I could tell that this pair was African. the mother in her colourful puffy shouldered print dress. And the daughter in the most gaudy pink jacket. Their welcoming party gave it away, instead of calling their names, they got their attention by making kissing sounds and loud hissing through their teeth.

The woman was rather obese. I could immediately see the advantage that her size gave her. Everyone moved out of her way when she moved. She probably got two seats for the price of one on her flight. And clearly, her welcoming party were in great praise of her gargantuan features. They left talking loudly, as if they were on Nigerian TV.

After they had gone the airport returned to a boring wait, then I saw a sign that made me laugh. A severely armed police man was pulling a little black and rather important looking case on wheels.  On the case was big yellow writing.

“Forced entry will destroy contents”.

Yes it will! I thought as I planned putting this on my T-shirt.

Josh, arrived in T-shirt and jeans, canvas shoes. He has grown taller (will it ever stop). We rode the train from Gatwick lost in our conversation about submarines. Now 18 his big desire to go to be initiated into adulthood by going to a British pub legally. But that was thwarted when we threw his 3 day old clothes in the washer and offered him the only clothes that would fit his giraffe features, a pair of bright red bell bottoms.

We ended up having beers at home and pizza take out before the jetlag and exhaustion sucked him into dreamland.

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December 21, 2010 - Posted by | Relationships | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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