So I am here – finally – in Johannesburg – sitting in a Spur restaurant.
Where to start… Luke and I set off from the villa at about 2.15 – pulling my bags up the hill to the Grand Hyatt to catch the airport shuttle. A good idea as it was very direct – about an hour and 40 mins – having a last sight see of Seoul. We thought of using the metro but then decided nope – too much and it would’ve saved about 15 mins or so. I wanted to leave before Morgan came home – we had told her that I was leaving but I guess I never actually said goodbye as such – so be it….
So at the airport, Luke checked me in on line. We had then to go to the counter to get my boarding card. That was when the fun started – I had completely forgotten that I should also have my South African passport as well as my British passport – I left SA and entered Korea on my UK passport but to get back into SA needed my SA passport or else a visa on my UK passport! The lady was very sweet but kept on saying how can they let you back into the country of you don’t have a visa…. I have a letter dated 1997 in my UK passport from the Dept of Home Affairs giving me permission to have dual citizenship but that I needed to produce this letter and my passport to re-enter the country (SA). Anyway when I told her I had my SA passport number she finally said I could go – the other thing was that my UK passport did not have an entry stamp in it as I guess with so many people coming in together – it didn’t get stamped!! Anyway she wrote the entry date in and said good luck – she was sure that they would let me in…..
Luke had a burger while I went off to find a plug for my computer so that I could find a document that might have my SA passport number in it!!! I found it on my Volunteering in Nepal documents!! YAY!! All very tense.
Luke caught the metro back home and I checked through customs and bought a book – in fact one set in Seoul – that I started while waiting to board.
The flight was great – a 3 hour flight to Hong Kong – the lady wisely booked me an aisle seat as close to the exit as she could, with no one next to me – the transit time was bit tight but the airline met the Jhb passengers off the plane and took us through customs with crew and staff so all was fine. I ended up in an aisle seat again with two empty sets next to me and a big guy from Senegal on the other aisle seat. He invited me to use all the seats so I managed to spread out and get some shut eye. Quite a different experience from our (Business class!) flights to Korea but nevertheless just fine! I even got to watch “Far from the madding Crowd” and literally squeezed in seeing the ending as we landed at ORT. I was caught completely by surprise as we touched down – was dozing I think and thought oh my these are pretty bad rumble strips/speed humps we are driving over when I looked up and out the window and saw the land flashing past and suddenly felt the tears welling up – I was really choked – it felt so wonderful to be back on SA soil… Then of course I started worrying about how I was going to go through passport control without a passport!!! So I handed in the UK passport at the SA passport holders point of entry – of course she wanted to know if I was a SA citizen – I then showed her the letter and off she went and came back with a large chap who said I would have to go with her – Pindile – to get my fingerprints checked. Off we went - I felt sooo foolish. I heard them talking and said in Zulu that I had forgotten it and then one said, in Zulu as well, did she lose it or forget it and I said no I had forgotten it and that it was in my son’s home in a drawer!!! That reassured them as they were concerned that I had lost it! They asked me for my ID which I think I have also left in Seoul!! I showed them my SA drivers licence. They asked for my ID number, then the SA passport number and date of issue and expiry. I then had my thumb print taken and all matched what they had on their system. Anyway I was given a section 22 or something warning which was a first warning. I could get another warning and on the 3rd time. I would lose my passport and not be allowed to leave the country every again!! It felt so weird to be asked how long I planned on staying in SA ……!!!
When we traveled to Korea, Mel had all the documents together and handled all the airline check ins so it just made sense for me to give her mine as well. The problem is that I never got them back from her. I had my UK passport as I needed it to get into the tour of the palace that I did in Seoul. I completely forgot about the other documents!!!!
Once through, I called John tell him all was well – I was in floods of tears by this time – I guess I hadn’t realised how stressed I was by it all!!! Besides all the other stuff probably (no, definitely!) going on – being back in SA again, leaving Luke and Mel and the children…..
I must say it feels wonderful to be here - to hear the accents, to see the familiar looking people, to see so many black faces again, to see the usual restaurants. My friend Sheila, who was going to chill with me until my CT flight, was not able to be here after all. So I tried to get an earlier flight as I had a 4 hour wait, but there was nothing available so I checked through my bags and have been sitting here in Spur – had two cups of hot tea and cold milk, an enormous breakfast – eggs, steak, bacon, wors, tomato, chips, mushrooms and toast, all for the princely sum of R 79.50!!! I have just loved listening to the chatter around me - and sitting here with all the different races and languages that make up the people of home!! Am now enjoying a rooibos cappachino so I really feel that I have landed!
Something else just occurred to me – I am enjoying seeing people interacting and not sitting next to each other having conversations with some one else or with their heads buried in an e book or more likely a game!!
Josh called me soon after I landed – that was also a bit of a tearful call – then I chatted to Beulah who is fine but very tired after having chemo and steroids yesterday. So there it is – I am here and happily so – of course I am already thinking about Morgan and how she was when she got off the bus yesterday but I know she is fine. I will come back to get up to date on the last few days in Seoul – was fun. Now the last leg to CT and mister John – YAY!!