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Moving through Continents

May 26, 2016

Leaving South Africa was wrenching.  The lazy of days of soaking up southern hemisphere rays was coming to an end as travel plans that had been stewing for months were coming to fruition. Work slowed to a standstill as thoughts of packing a bag for a 4 month sojourn with the right clothes for a change in climate replaced thoughts of protea, gravel paths, sunshine and sandy beaches.

Overlooking Cape Town from Table Mountain

                             Overlooking Cape Town from Table Mountain

various protea

                                                                Various protea

Soon it was time to leave the side-walks to the African beaded craft sellers and steal across the Kapesweg to the fast flowing highway traffic heading to down town Cape Town and the industrial suburbs close to the international airport.

Straddling the highway to the airport are the homes of thousands of South Africans spread out like a rag carpet in all directions. Myriad colours of shanties sparkle in the late afternoon South African sunlight providing a never-ending pallet to work the imagination. But, no matter how one views life in the townships it’s not paradise. Under the pallet lies the everyday reality of scrabbling for a living and an attempt to protect oneself and family from the elements.

The endless

                                                                 The endless…

Wiind bent trees in Simon's Town

                                         Wind bent trees in Simon’s Town

The car speeds us by the townships whisking us into another world of international travel highlighted by fast food outlets, rigid seats, sparklingly clean floors, ever cleaned washrooms and line-ups.

People are patiently waiting for the call that beckons them to their aluminium-tubed reality changing machine. Meanwhile those flying in more luxury peer down from their all-inclusive lounges sipping champagne and nibbling on appetizers while the hordes rush from gate to gate to try to stay in line with their itineraries.  It feels a little like the Hunger Games but the  hordes are in the arena.

Waiting patiently for the plane to refuel

                                               Waiting patiently for the plane to refuel

Finally the call comes and like sheep to be dipped we are sucked through the plane’s umbilical cord. Dreaded thoughts of having to sit for 12 hours in one place while this behemoth lifts off into the night sky and stumbles off across the deserts of Africa and across the Mediterranean to urban wilds of Amsterdam.

But what do we see of Amsterdam? Not a lot. Another airport terminal that looks like many of the others build these days.  Palaces to consumerism with the same stores to be found at any airport around the world. The only breath of fresh air here are the myriad tulips for sale – bulbs, actual tulip flowers and plenty of picture post cards celebrating the spring tulip season throughout the Netherlands.

It's all a shell game. Enticing chocolates and bake goods are bound to disappoint

      It’s all a shell game. Enticing chocolates and bake goods are bound to disappoint

7 hours spent in the palace of consumerism moves one to want to get on with the last leg – a 7 hour flight to Toronto and an eastern Canada spring. People move back and forth from terminal to terminal, the flights come and go to all the possible exotic places in the world you can imagine.

The final boarding call is made and in I squeezes between the 3cm space between my knees and the seat in front, and that’s with the seat in front in the upright position.  The food comes and goes, the blinds of the portlights shut out the light so people can watch the 4cm screen in front of them.  I  never understand why people don’t want to gaze out at the clouds and possible land sightings and dream about smoothly hovering over the earth’s surface as one wings westward.

Me? I’m seated in the centre of the plane anchored by a restraining belt (I’m a little unruly) to the seat beneath me and pinned by the seat in front of me which has been reclined to the max.  The flight it smooth, uneventful and painful.

Finally the ears pop, the plane banks downward at an acceptable angle, the wheels pop out of the hold and the tarmac is kissed gently by all onboard.  We’ve arrived after almost 40 hours of travel time. There’s only a 3 hour car trip ahead of us but the conversation with my brother is welcomed after the silence of the aircraft cabin where all and sundry are unplugged from the sights and sounds around them while they listen and/or watch the pabulum fed to all of us on our miniature screens.

Suddenly we are in North America and we disgorge….

Ontario's emblem - the trillium in its full glory under the forest canopy

           Ontario’s emblem – the trillium in its full glory under the forest canopy

A backwater

                                                            A backwater of the Rideau

A huck finn type hideaway

                                          A huck-finn type summer is coming

 

 

 

 

 

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Toby permalink
    May 26, 2016 18:46

    wonderfully described modern travel, thank you! Like you, I prefer to cross the Atlantic on our sailing vessel. A 100 times slower but a thousand times more peaceful.
    By the way, your new dodger looks stunning!

  2. Wayno permalink
    May 26, 2016 20:11

    You got a new todger?

  3. May 26, 2016 21:02

    Tony:
    I’m sure the day is coming when passenger aircraft won’t have windows. I usually have a sore neck from peering out all though the flight. “Oh look is that a
    Mig 49?”

    Hope to see you this summer.
    cheers, Fred

  4. Annie Boldt permalink
    May 26, 2016 22:41

    Glad you are back in the country of your roots.
    Enjoy Ont. and see you soon.
    Annie B.
    P.S. You should take up travel writing TG.

  5. cpbl permalink
    May 26, 2016 23:08

    Poetic! Welcome back. Right on about windows in planes.

  6. May 27, 2016 01:20

    Welcome back to Canada, eh?

  7. millermartin2015 permalink
    May 27, 2016 19:47

    We thought you had planned to come back to France . Much désappointed but very
    glad to know you are back “home” . Enjoy your good days together .

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