LANGEBAAN TO EAST LONDON (South Africa)

The flight ⇢ Are we there yet?

Yes, you guessed it … our new city (for at least the next 12 months) is EAST LONDON. No, not east of London in the United Kingdom 😉 … but the city East London in the province of the Eastern Cape in South Africa.

Our new home – it’s almost in a straight line across the bottom half of South Africa (west coast to southeast coast)

Let me be honest … it’s probably not our first (or second) choice, but when things started to happen, it happened really fast. And everything just fell into place – the one door opened after the other and we just knew this was meant to be. And you know us – we are open minded, adventurous and love new challenges! We know there is beauty in every place … sometimes you just have to dig a little bit deeper to find that!

So, when Berto’s new company said “it’s going to be East London”, we packed 4 suitcases and 2 backpacks and got on the plane. But a flight that should have taken 1 hour and 30 minutes, turned out to be almost 8 hours! We thought: “Is this really meant to be?”.

We will tell you everything about our new home in coming posts (we are actually not staying in East London, but in a beautiful suburb of this small city). For now, I would like to tell you about how we got to East London … on a flight that really tested our patience!

The flight:

We were ready to fly from Cape Town at 13:10 … enough time to get our hired car in East London and to find our (temporarily) self-catering cottage on the outskirts of the city. Berto’s been a couple of times to East London in the early 2000’s for business, but I have never been there and were looking forward to see this city (in day light).

The bee:

A bee on the way to catch a flight to East London (Photo credit: Dreamstime.com)

As we entered the plane, a bee was doing his/her rounds up and down inside the plane. Some passengers freaked out a little bit and the crew eventually got hold of this little one … unfortunately, it had to be killed to get the passengers back in their seats. A couple of minutes later as scheduled, the plane was soon on the runway, ready to depart …

The heron:

Standing up close to 4 feet and with a wide wingspan of 6.6 feet, the heron is a large bird (Photo credit: Vernon Chalmers)

As the plane started to accelerate (probably halfway before getting up into the air), we heard a loud noise and the plane had to brake very sharply … see, that’s why you have to wear your seatbelts! A little bit shocked, we looked at each other – could it be a burst tyre or something that had fallen off the plane? But no, the captain informed us that a big heron just flew into one of the plane’s engines!

Our plane had to find its way back to a parking bay where we were met with some emergency vehicles. The captain informed us that the engine would be inspected to see if (and how much) damage were caused by the bird strike. After 15 minutes we were informed that the engine had too much damage in order to continue with the flight and that a bus will take us back to the airport building, where we would be receiving further instructions.

A fire truck outside our plane

With hand luggage in tow, we were ‘welcomed back’ into the airport building. Now, it’s true that there are no airplanes on standby for incidents like these … it was explained to us by the ground staff that we would be waiting for a plane carrying passengers from Johannesburg to Cape Town. Once that plane landed, it will be cleaned and we would be taken to East London … the new departure time was now 18:10. Ok, so 5 hours later as originally scheduled.

For us, it wasn’t such a big deal – we had arranged a rented car and will only have to drive 30 minutes to our destination. Other passengers were not that lucky and had to scramble for alternative arrangements.

FlySafair, our airline, handed out complimentary refreshment vouchers to all affected passengers which we could use at any restaurant in the airport. We could walk around freely (of course behind the security gates) … enjoying lunch while waiting for our delayed flight.

My complimentary voucher (btw, Martha is my first name) ☺️

We walked (and sat) around for a couple of hours – watched people coming and going (and reading) – before we walked over to Mug & Bean for a delicious late lunch.

Corn fritters topped with crispy bacon, avocado & glazed tomatoes

Satisfied and happy after enjoying a delicious light meal, we found our way back to the area from where we would leave again.

Delayed flight delayed:

But then more bad news … our plane was delayed in Johannesburg and we will now depart an hour and a half later than planned … the new time slot was now 19:30.

I said to Berto: “Remember that bee and heron … they are now taking revenge”.

Eventually our plane arrived, and though a bit later than scheduled, we were picked up by airport busses and transported to our plane. It was probably the quickest boarding I have ever seen and we were seated in no time! But then …

An argument between passengers and air hostess:

A difficult situation

We heard a noise coming from the back of the plane and the next moment a crying air hostess walked pass us. What now? We don’t know what exactly were said and happened … the captain (the same one of earlier during the bird strike) came out and had a discussion with the crew. Ten minutes later, the police arrived on the plane to talk to the rowdy passengers. After a lot of “he said, she said”, the police left. After a while, the (affected) air hostess also left the plane, which left the captain with one crew member short …

Is this even possible?

In the next hour, five passengers also left the plane … which mean their baggage also had to be removed from the plane’s cargo hold. The captain explained that he was waiting for another crew member and if people don’t settle down, the flight will have to be cancelled. He also mentioned that East London’s airport are closing at 22:00 … which meant we were running out of flying time!

Finally:

After a very long day at the airport (and in the plane), we finally left Cape Town International Airport at 20:45 – phew! I’m sure the captain has switched to super sonic speed, because we landed in East London in an hour and 10 minutes (5 minutes before the airport would close)!

Over the years, we had a few sketchy flights (oh, that one with Emirates to Dubai back in 2017 … hang on, that’s another story), but this one must be very close to be at our number one spot of “most difficult flights”!

We made it … just!

After collecting our luggage and receiving our rental car, we ended up on a road that had road works galore … in the dark and when you don’t know the roads, this was not fun! We finally arrived at our self-catering cottage after 23:00 … all that we wanted to do now, was going to bed!

Sleep makes everything better

PS: Did I mention I’m a bit of a nervous flyer …

59 comments

  1. Oh my goodness Corna, what a day! It was hard to believe that so many incidents unfolded to delay your flight multiple times but at least you arrived safe and sound. We’ve also experienced numerous delays and cancellations but I think this tops the lot! It was a fun read but I doubt you thought of it in that way at the time! Enjoy East London (I’d never heard of it before) so look forward to upcoming instalments. M xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh Marion, we always try to see the humour in difficult situations … but I must admit, we had to try really hard to see the fun in this day! We have already explored our surroundings a bit and are pleasantly surprised with what we saw. I can’t wait to show you another part of our beautiful country. Hope you have a great weekend to look forward to 🌸.

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  2. OMIWORD What a nightmare. I am so sorry your new adventure got off to such a rocky start. I love the way you have described it all in your story. Your illustrations are great!
    Leaving the Western Cape is a BIG step. But as you so rightly say there is a great deal of good stuff in the Eastern Cape and everywhere else in our wonderful country. I wish you lots of fun and adventure in your new home

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, that’s not the preferred way of starting a new adventure 😬 … but we are here! And slowly but surely we’re busy finding our way. With our road trip last December, we saw just how much beauty there is in other provinces (as you probably also know, since you have also travelled wide and far). We can’t wait to start ‘digging’ to see what the Eastern Cape has to offer. I’m glad you enjoyed our ‘plane story’, thank you for reading. Have a great weekend 🌸.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Of course I love a good airline story. You seem to have collected 5 different ones in one go! The bee..sad and also the heron…bird strikes are bad news for everyone, but these things happen. What I always take issue with is obnoxious passengers! So glad you got there in the nick of time! You must let me know where to find your Emirates story!

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    • Ah Carolyn, I was certainly thinking of you while I was busy typing this story … I bet you have hundreds of stories like these 😉. Halfway through this day, I was thinking that maybe one (or two) of these things can probably happen on a single flight, but all of these … unimaginable! Yes, I also felt sad for the bee and heron (but like you said, these things happen). Oh yes, obnoxious passengers – I had to control myself as not to give them a piece of my mind … I just can’t understand why people have to behave in such rude manners. Regarding the Emirates story, I just touched it vaguely in our introduction on the Camino Frances (https://wetanddustyroads.com/2018/11/27/a-very-long-walk/), but I will tell about this in length one day – it was also a chain reaction of things. I’m surprised, thinking now about our flight experiences, that (as a nervous flyer) I’m still flying in planes 😄.

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    • Absolutely … towards the end of the day, I was like “Really, how is this at all possible?” I don’t think East London is high on the South African tourism industry’s list – everybody know about Cape Town, Johannesburg and the Kruger National Park … but there’s just so much more our country has to offer. (Now I’m sounding like a tourism officer 😉). My aim is definitely to show more of the beauty of an (unknown) part of South Africa!

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  4. Oh .. it sounds like a nightmare, but as you wrote and as far as I know you are both patient and adventurous, although sometimes it can be a little too many exciting nerve-wracking events at once 🙃😉
    So you’re moving!!!! Never heard of East London in South Africa so I had to google on this Buffalo City 😁
    I look forward to following you, hopefully I will soon unpack all the boxes and get everything in order here in our new house in Cyprus so I get more time in front of the computer.
    Enjoy and relax and I wish you the best in your new home!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, this was indeed a bit of a “rough ride”! But hey, we made it and already saw so many beautiful places here on the outskirts of East London (and you’re right, it’s also called Buffalo City because of the Buffalo River, at whose mouth lies the only river port of South Africa – that’s exciting 😄). Good luck with unpacking all of those boxes … that surely takes up a lot of time! We only moved with clothes and will be moving into our rented (unfurnished) house in a week’s time (we are buying only a couple of important stuff to fill the house … you know, a bed, fridge and couch 😉 … it’s going to be a very minimalistic house)!
      Thank you Anita – it surely is exciting times!

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  5. Blimey, I think a trip to East London in London might be more straightforward – and we’re in Albania!
    Let’s hope you got all the hiccups out of the way in one go and you can now settle down.
    Wishing you all the best! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. O goeiste, hierdie was een rowwe dag! En mens is behoorlik pootuit na so ñ lang wag op die lughawe. Ek sien uit daarna om meer oor Oos-Londen te leer, Corna. Was nog net een keer daar, in 1981.

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    • Ja, ‘n mens raak mos moeg van so rondsit en wag – ek kan nie onthou wanneer laas ek so lekker geslaap het soos daardie eerste nag in Oos-London in nie 😄. My man se hy dink nie Oos-London het veel verander sedert 1981 nie 😉 … ek gaan vandag (vir die eerste keer) kyk hoe die stad lyk … mense het my gewaarsku om nie te hoe verwagtinge te he nie … ek sal na vandag weet …

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  7. Oh wow, what a long list of mishaps! I have to feel a bit sorry for the heron as well as for you. But the last thing you then needed was argumentative passengers ☹ I’m really looking forward now to hear all about your new home in a ‘different’ London to mine!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes it’s good not to know what’s laying ahead of us … 😉. Yes, the heron is such a beautiful bird and it’s a shame what happened to him/her. I also felt sorry for the captain of the flight (it must have been a very long day for him as well … can you imagine the amount of reports that he had to hand in after finishing his day!) As for the argumentative passengers – I had no sympathy with them!
      I can confirm that our East London is definitely not as beautiful as yours … but the outskirts of this small city has some stunning sights.

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    • Yes, we were thoroughly tested! But when you just switch off your mind (and eat lots of sweets and chocolates), you sort of “survive” situations like these 😉. But yet, here we are and we’re settling in nicely … in a week’s time we are moving to our rented house and I can’t wait to start decorating and get my hands on the (neglected) garden!

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    • Dit was wraggies die een ding na die ander … ek was effe onseker of ons regtig moet vlieg na al hierdie drama! Ja, ons was ook verbaas oor die lughawe wat sluit – dit was omtrent verlate toe ons daar land 😯.

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  8. What a journey, I have sympathy with you guys, the airline staff, the bee and the heron but not the idiots who caused trouble! Hey unlike others I HAVE heard of East London. Around 15 or so years ago one of my sons went travelling – and started his adventure by working in a game reserve near East London (name Inkwankweze I think), where he spent a few months helping to read lion cubs. He loved – AND met his (now) wife there! I hope you get as lucky as he did over that way. Good luck to you both.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, one understand that unforeseen things (like the bee, heron and delayed flights) can happen … but passengers who can’t behave themselves, is inexcusable! Oh yeah, how wonderful that we can show East London to you then (which must bring good memories to your son)! You know what … Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve was one of our first searches on the internet before we came to East London (and we can’t wait to go there)! Thank you for your good wishes 😊.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This is probably the craziest story I’ve heard about a flight! First it seemed nature really was against it, but not with the typical storms or fog that keep flights on the ground… I can’t help feeling sorry for the bee and the heron but damn… I’m glad that you made it, you do have a great story to tell!

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    • Crazy indeed! Like I’ve said to someone else here in the comments … one can expect one (or maybe two) of these things to happen on one flight, but so many incidents … it was almost unreal! But yet, we’re finally in East London and the flight is (almost) forgotten – now we only remember the funny side of it!

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  10. What an ordeal. It seemed this day threw everything at you, and then a little more for good measure. But you got there! And a new chapter begins. So glad you’ve finally put us out pf our misery regarding the location. East London in South Africa… curious to learn more!

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    • While we were in the situation, we kind of just handled it (I mean, what else can you do) … but now, looking back, I can’t believe how the one incident was just followed up by another! But you’re right, we have put that behind us (though, when we saw a heron the other day, we bowed slightly in respect ☺️). The city of East London is maybe not the prettiest of them all, but the surroundings are beautiful and we hope to share some of these amazing places with you in the future!

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    • Who would have thought it would be so difficult to complete an hour and a half plane journey? But yet, here we are and we have already saw lovely places (and we smile slightly when we see a plane up in the air … 😉).

      Liked by 1 person

    • If someone told me beforehand this is going to happen, I would say it’s not possible 😬 … but we were there and “survived” to tell the story! As soon as we have settled in, we will start to do some proper exploration of East London and hope to share these soon with you guys!

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    • It was definitely a day that have the potential of being turned into a short film 😄. Thanks, yes we are indeed safe and sound in East London and can’t wait to start exploring our new surroundings.

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  11. What a story! Corna (I wanted to say Martha 😊) you are a great story teller and I was hanging onto every word. It must have been hair raising at times, especially considering that you are a ‘nervous flyer’ . Thank you for a great and entertaining post, and a special thanks for the lesson learned💕🌸 Consideration and kindness towards others do go a long way. Best wishes to you and Berto and I’m looking forward to your next post. Happy adventures in East London.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah thank you so much Henrietta 🌸. I’m glad you enjoyed the story – I actually had a few smiles while typing it (one need to see the humour in each and every situation) … but at the time, it was not that funny … I was actually clinging onto my chair when the plane eventually lifting off (while thinking of what else could possibly go wrong)! You are so right about consideration and kindness towards each other – I wish more people in this world would apply it. Thank you for your good wishes, we are certainly looking forward to more adventures (but hopefully not as challenging as our flight).
      Oh, I wanted to say … when my grandmother wanted to know what happened to the cookies in the jar on the kitchen table, she always called me ‘Martha’ … then I’d knew I was in trouble 😁.

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    • Thanks Ruth ☺️. It was one of those things you just think will never happen to you … but yet … 👀. Looking back, it was quite stressful, but at least we can now smile about it (until we fly the next time).

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  12. Genadetjie ons! All’s well that ends well. Oos Londen. Ek dink julle gaan baie gelukkig wees daar. My eerste gedagte oor dit by: Bye beteken geluk! Maar joe, wat julle nie alles daardie dag moes verduur nie. Ek wonder darem of Oos-Londen julle in die lug sou los en sluit? Kan nie dink nie. Wat ek meer oor dink, is dat die Kaap sou weier om julle te laat opstyg omdat dit regtig te laat raak vir Oos Londen. Sjoe, dit was nou ‘n behoorlike dilemma.
    Daai bacon en avo en tamaties lyk fantasties! En as ek aan Oos-Londen dink, dink ek aan … KOS! Daar is die heerlikste restaurant. Maar hoe gaan ek dit nou in die hande kry?O ek weet nie eers of dit nog bestaan nie. Jy moet vra. Ek dink dit was ‘n Switserse restaurant. As dit nog daar is, probeer dit! Maar ek was jare gelede laas daar.

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    • Ek het ook die by en geluk in gedagte gehad … maar tel dit nog as die by doodgemaak is? Dit was ‘n wilde dag – amper te wild om waar te wees 🙃. Ek dink ook nie Oos-London sou ons terugstuur nie, maar eerder dat Kaapstad ons sou laat bly … maar hoe dit ookal sy, ons het dit gemaak (hoe se hulle: “By hook or by crook”). Dalk is dit juis daardie bacon/avo/tamatie broodjie wat my deurgedra het 😉.
      Oos-London self (dis nou die middestad) sal verseker nie die top plek behaal as mooiste/skoonste stad van SA nie … ai, die verval … maar die buitewyke is pragtig. Ons moet nog gewoond raak aan die groen heuwels rondom ons (en die slaggate in die pad 😁), maar noudat ons uiteindelik in ons huur huisie ingetrek het, begin voel dit meer soos huis vir die volgende jaar. Die mense hier is vriendelik en ons het reeds by ‘n klein kerk gemeenskap aangesluit – dit maak alles net soveel makliker. O, en hier is die grootse Spar in die land (hulle noem dit Spargs) en dis 3 (of 4) verdiepings groot … ‘n mens hoef na geen ander plek te gaan as net hier om AL jou inkopies te doen nie! Ek sal moet gaan kyk vir lekker restaurante (ons het reeds agtergekom hier is nie regtig wynplase nie, maar mikro bier brouerye is daar heelwat).

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