©2012 Edward C. Lunnon
Monday 16 July 2012: 5 years 10 months on … Advantage ED
It was approximately half past five in the evening on Saturday 14 July 2012 – the last day of our trip and we were approaching Port Elizabeth airport.
British Airways Boeing Flight 6237 from JHB to PLZ was about to land. We couldn’t see from which direction because outside it looked like pea-soup! The pilot had said that there was a strong southerly wind blowing and that it was raining hard.
We had read that the coast was in the grips of a severe storm and I had phoned the airways before we left to ensure that all was in order. I was assured that all flights were travelling normally.
But this landing was far from normal … you couldn’t see a thing until we emerged from the cloud just above the Port Elizabeth harbour. The wind was buffeting the plane from the left side as we came down with the engines racing. The we lurched to the right, back to the left and then hit the ground hard … bump, bump, bump! Heads hit the lockers and people screamed. We shuddered, skidding from left to right to left along the runway, and then returned to normal as we slowly taxied to the airport building and parked right in front of the arrivals section.
There was a cacophony of noise inside the plane – nervous tension being released, I think – as passengers shouted, laughed, giggled and finally applauded the pilot for landing us safely. I would love to know at what point he would have decided to abort the landing; but we really had come back to earth with a bump! Both literally and figuratively!
The wind was howling and the rain was pouring down in sheets of water as we quickly sped across the concourse to the airport building. Port Elizabeth (and the country) was in the grips of a killer storm, and we had landed at the height of it. (It was howling, raining, flooding, snowing and had been since Thursday and was to continue until Monday.)
In the warmth of the arrivals terminal we collected our thoughts and our luggage. Then dashed to Kerri Botha’s double cab and slowly made our way home through the dark, windswept, wet, deluged streets of Port Elizabeth.
Once home, the boys quickly off-loaded the luggage in the pouring rain. We were all eager to see Charlie and he was nowhere to be found! Then suddenly he appeared at the sliding door on the front stoep – wet and cold and jumping all over us!
Yes – we were home – Charlie was our welcoming party in the height of the storm!
We ordered in burgers from Steers and started unpacking: washing, dirty clothes, crumpled clothes, summer clothes, winter clothes, new clothes, old clothes, pamphlets, passports, tickets, booklets, unused bahts, chargers, cables, phones, toiletries … it was the end of our trip.
As we unpacked our suitcases, we unpacked our memories and our thoughts of a magnificent holiday. Each item unpacked had some connotation attached to it and we shared this with each other. Later, the laptops, the I-Pads, the cameras and the photos were produced, compared, laughed at, recollected, transferred, stored, face-booked, emailed and shared with the world.
This would continue on Sunday and Monday and … who knows … as the storm abated, we would slowly come back to earth and return to normal life: Phillip back to the boarding house on Sunday, Pera back to work on Monday, Sean discovering that he still had a week’s holiday ( at 9pm Saturday evening he was called out to do emergency NSRI rescue duty!) … and me?
Well, there’s the documenting of our holiday that needs to be done and will keep me occupied for the next few days.
In my mind, I have been comparing Life to a Holiday. There are so many similarities.
So, watch this space, as I try to share our exciting journey with you … and enjoy the pictures with us!
In the meantime, it was great falling asleep in my bed for the first time in three weeks!
Our grateful thanks are extended to all who made this trip possible.
- the Bryants from Plett who shared their holiday with us and did all the hard work as the tour guides
- Tyler Botha for looking after Charlie and the house
- The Uptons, Reelers, Moolmans and Keelings for their hospitality in Pretoria
- Cheryl Price and Kerri Botha for airport transfers