"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The 2021 Africa Journals, Chapter Two: In Which Marg Battles Bees and is Stung by Kenya Airlines


Ch. Two:

In Which Marg Battles Bees and is Stung by Kenya Airlines


    So there I was in Seattle, finally on my way for a month of safaris and tent camps and wildlife and birds and photography and good company.  All my angst was dissipating

     What a fool!   I had neglected to consider Murphy and his blasted Law.

    First, I turned on my little Lenovo travel laptop and opened Facebook to message Marg that I was in Seattle and would see her in Amsterdam in a day or so.  Marg messaged me that Kenya now required all tourists to have a QR code.   She sent me a link.


                                My nice room at the Coast Gateway hotel in Seattle.


    Then, heart attack impending, I checked my e-mail.   Now, my e-mail provider doesn’t put spam into a spam file.   No, it quarantines it into something called Gray Mail and once a day I am sent a summary of all suspicious e-mails received the PREVIOUS day.

     That is when I learned, a day late, that Iceland Air had canceled my flight from Seattle to Amsterdam.  I’m not sure it's possible to have two heart attacks at the same time but I believe it is certainly a possibility.


    First, the QR code.   This country girl and phone Luddite had no idea what a QR code was until I saw a picture of one online.   Ah, those funny-looking mazes.

I tackled that first.   Despite the previous drive-me-crazy lengthy applications for online visas, I got the QR code rather easily and took a photo of it with my phone.   In the next few weeks, I would not only become familiar with QR codes but also quite conversant with them and not in four-letter words.


 A while row of seats to myself!    I stretched out and slept.






I went to the next problem: Icelandair and the cancelled flight. This one was even easier to solve.   All I had to do was show up at Lufthansa two hours earlier than the Icelandair flight and present my temperature, PCR test results, passport, luggage, last will and testament, thirty years worth of previous tax returns, the names of all my contacts, and whatever else they required.


            And away we go, hopefully leaving Murphy behind with all his mischief.


When you sit far back in a plane, you get what's left.   It was good, though.   Tortellini and salad, a brownie and roll.


 This looked promising for a breakfast meal.  


The idea was okay; the result no so much.   Cold summer squash with cold cuts didn't cut it.   As much as I like summer squash, the texture was not appealing.

 Lufthansa followed anti-social distancing protocols rigidly..   Here a steward is preventing anyone in our cabin from debarking  after arrival in Frankfurt until the previous cabin was empty.

                Then they sardined us into a trolley for a long transit to the terminal.


    All of which I did and soon I was winging my way to Frankfurt, Germany, and on to Amsterdam, where my $$$ room at the inside-the-airport Mercure hotel was waiting for my arrival.  When I factor in the threat of quarantine if I left the terminal, the price was well worth it.



 My very nice room at the Mercure, inside the Amsterdam airport.   That's a mural on the wall for decoration and to make the room seem larger.   Getting to the room with my luggage, going back through security, and all the health checks was a journey I don't want to make again.   I couldn't have done it on my own and it was well worth the $20 tip I gave an assistance attendant.



                    Fantastic breakfast from the Mercure.


    The next morning, I met Marg and we boarded a KLM flight to Nairobi, after the temperature, COVID PCR test results, passports, etc. obligations.

     Murphy didn’t have a chance with our arrival in Nairobi.   We were met with a Meet and Greet lady, arranged by Jason Fernandes, and she facilitated our passage through the many health, customs, and immigration stations.  She ushered us outside to the van that would take us to the Palacina Residences and Suites Hotel, where Marg and I planned to rest and relax for three nights before flying to Botswana.

     The hotel had luscious panini sandwiches and juice for our after-midnight arrival!

     The first night and day went well except that the power cord to my laptop apparently quit functioning.   Behold!   The guys at the front desk jumped right on the problem and soon I had a new power cord—complete with a Kenya-style power plug.


                                    Our suite at the Palacina.




     Was it Murphy or my imagination, but did the power port on my laptop crackle when I plugged it in?  


                         Whenever Marg and I share accommodations, we take turns with having the big bed.                                           She said it was my turn for the master bedroom.


That evening I went to bed.   Marg, a light sleeper, was up and working on her computer after midnight.   Two things happened:   The invasion of the bees and our planned flight to Botswana was a disaster!




           This is where Marg was working on her computer and ignoring a humming noise until bees                                                 began dropping onto her.


 The bees apparently entered the suite through an open transom window.   Hundreds of them!   She tried spraying them with “Doom” and then called the front desk for backup.   She said they counted 600 dead bees before the counting stopped.

     The Botswana flight was another matter.   Kenya Air rearranged our flights so that the dates   had us leaving later and returning sooner, impossible for the safari reservations we had.   Normally, we would fly from Nairobi to Victoria Falls airport in Zimbabwe where a van from Pangolin Chobe hotel would transport us to their facility on Botswana.   Easy, peasy.   Be there in time for the afternoon game float on the Chobe river.

     While I slumbered on, a valiant Marg fought with Kenya Air until she was exhausted.   What eventually came about when all the dust settled was a flight from Nairobi to Johannesburg in South Africa, and then a flight back north to Kasane, Botswana, the next day.


The Palacina front desk where Marg spent most of the night after the Battle of Bees, fighting with Kenya Air.   Flight cancellations are common as airlines struggle to operate during the pandemic.   Marg is indomitable, but this brought her to tears of frustration.


    We had to do the same flights in reverse to get back to Nairobi.  This not only cost us more financially for the tickets, but also cost us a safari day, a lost night at the Palacina, plus two nights lodging at City Lodge in Jo-Burg.  Our days of rest and relaxation were a broken dream.



                        The cook pulled down his face mask when he saw I was going to take his picture.

        The balcony where we spent a couple hours photographing birds in the trees.   After so many                             days en route, it was wonderful to get behind a lens at last.

     A medical lab tech came to our room to do the COVID tests.   Four hours later, the front desk                             delivered printed copies of our negative results!

        Most hotels in Nairobi, especially those that cater to foreigners, have extensive security.

                            The lavender blooms of a jacaranda tree.

                                                Dark-capped bulbul.


I think it's a variable sunbird.

Variable sunbird.

             Variable sunbird.

A female variable sunbird, I believe.

Dark-capped bulbul.


My room at City Lodge in the Jo-Burg airport.   I usually try to take photos before I mess it up.  The lodge has a wonderful breakfast buffet and it was truly appreciated.   Marg was delighted.   "My first buffet in a year and a half," she said.
 The Airlink plane that took us to Botswana the next day.
A snack on-board the flight to Botswana.   Sunbirds!

Some chicken, I think, salad and what I think were baked yams.   Delicious!

I took this photo so I'd know where I was in the chronology of my photographs.   This is in Botswana, near the Chobe River, our first safari destination.   I was  here in 2014 and the air terminal was a simple shack in a dusty field.   Today, it is modern and beautiful.


  1. What a disaster. Persistence prevails.

  2. Wow !! Now we need to sleep 15 hours to rest up after YOUR above adventure. Airline flights by Kenya Air re-scheduled that would have negatively impacted your trip, all this with Marg living through the battle of the Bees !! Amazing the small airport in Botswana that was a shack in 2014 is now fully modern. Some (mostly) good airline meals and some not so good. Some amazingly beautiful hotel rooms and some smaller. Sunbirds and Bulbuls. We don't know our birds at all.

    By the way, for any of you reading this comment, following this Post Gullible has another Post also dated November 17, 2021. We missed it on our first trip through this Post but 'found' it by accident later.

    Patti and Cap