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June 4, 2013

from planeWe are back home in cold, raining Cape Town. Our flight out of London was slightly delayed. I was concerned because as I sat in my First Class seat (yes I love BA they upgraded me on route to the plane), I could see the engineer’s ladder with a whole lot of oil cans underneath it. Last time I saw that out of the window we ended up leaving 5 hours later and on an entirely different plane! And as we were late I was starting to put 2 + 2 together and getting 5.  Shortly after that they announced that the delay was because the incoming flight had arrived late and then they also had a passenger discrepancy and they needed to find Mr Ski and Mr Milner. We reckon Mr Ski had seen the Facebook photos of CT sleet and he reckoned he could coming skiing. We never found out if they made the plane or not (and frankly I don’t care).

I did make a chronic mistake and ventured back to see how Stephen was in economy. I got the fright of my life seeing those small chairs and ran back quickly into First Class. Admittedly Stephen did have the best seat in economy class with no chair in front of him (over the emergency exit) and also no one sitting next to him either. I needless to say did not venture back again as I didn’t want to frighten myself twice on the flight. I had dinner, watched Django Unchained (not for the faint hearted or anyone afraid of seeing blood and gore) and managed to get some sleep despite my body clock telling me it was midday.

ba planeStephen on the other hand slept for an hour from takeoff (mid-morning nap for him really) and then never slept again (and I can fully understand why). And he is writing an exam tomorrow. Could be interesting to how that goes. He did sleep for about 6 hours when he got home though. But then it was night time in LA then. So his body clock is messed up good and proper. I managed to stay awake the whole day but I can feel a haze descending on me as I type so forgive any missing letters/words or sentences.

As it is customary here are my concluding thoughts about America:

1. There is no such word as ‘Small’ in the American vocab. Large roads, large cars, large meal sizes, large malls, large supermarkets, large variety, large airports and most of all, large people.

2. LA is ridiculous big (and flat) and there is always traffic regardless of what day or time you are traveling at. Minimum travel time to any point outside your hotel is 45 minutes (doesn’t matter how close you might think it is).

3. You can cut white/yellow lines at will. No one will fine you (unless you are terribly unlucky to do it in front of Mr Chips). No one will honk at you. Given I managed to move across 4 lanes at a red traffic light (from thinking I was turning right to ending up turning left) and no one blinked an eye, it seems this customary driving.

4. You eat of lot of starch in America so I am not surprised that there are many large people. I only got vegetables at one meal and that was Sunday lunch when I chose the restaurant and paid for the meal.

5. Americans definitely prefer artificial to natural. My Dad said I could do a whole blog just on their artificial food. Artificially sweetened honey – clearly their bees aren’t sweet enough or their flowers are sour. Bread crumbs that include high fructose corn syrup – probably because their bread is not sweet enough (and about 20 other chemicals added as well).

6. They have no idea what Wiener Schnitzel is. They have a fast food chain by that name. I wondered how that would work but then read the subtitle which said “The world’s largest hot dog fast food restaurant”. No, simply no.

7. They are very customer driven. Store assistants, to waiters, to check-in clerks – they are all ridiculously friendly and helpful.

8. They are obsessed about not allowing anyone to drink alcohol until 21. You can die for your country from 18 but you can’t drink until you’re 21. I think there is an anomaly in there someone. Given I have a slight penchant for stats here is one on this point. Your chance of dying from an alcohol related death is 45% higher in the US than it is in South Africa.

9. They definitely have a gun control problem. Walking around Walmart, 2 aisles down from the children’s toys was an aisle of guns (mainly BB guns). But you could buy a whole variety of ammo for numerous guns. Seriously. Imagine going into Makro to get your ammo.

10. You do feel incredibly safe though. I never once was concerned that Stephen was wandering around with his cousin only. You have a sense of security at all times.

And given I think 10 is a nice round number to stop at, I will stop at this point.  In case you are wandering why I put a random picture of a BA 747 above, it was actually the plane we flew from LA to London on and was parked right next to the plane we took from London to CT (hence how I got the photo and yes I know my phone should have been off).

So this will be the last post for a few weeks. Only a few weeks because on 21 June we leave for a road trip to Namibia.  Until then …

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