The plan was to fly out of Lichinga on the Tuesday morning.
Flights were booked, organisational reports were in hand to deliver to National Offices in Maputo. Travel onto South Africa was planned to acquire new visas. Medical appointments were made.
We just needed to get onto that plane – seems straightforward right? Things are rarely straightforward here, and the moment you assume they will be you get into all kinds of tangles. Like we did that Tuesday.
The problem? As we were going to be leaving to get new visas, we had to surrender our old visa cards and get substitute stamps in our passports to authorise us leaving the country without valid visa cards. All clear so far? Sounds simple?
Well we thought so. But it seems that we didn’t completely understand the process – often the case. And the information we were given at different stages appeared to change – again not unusual as different people have different levels of authority to authorise different processes to happen.
Anyway, long story short, Scott was still standing in the immigration office as the kids and I raced to the airport to get on the plane. (Thanks Ben!).
The reasoning? The next plane out of Lichinga was scheduled for Thursday (it’s currently Tuesday) and the low likelihood of getting six tickets for our whole family in two days time (let alone the cost) meant we needed to be on that plane.
So after stalling at the airport as long as possible, I boarded the plane as the very last passenger with: four crying kids who didn’t know where Dad was, a small handful of cash that my teammate Ben had in his jacket pocket, no passports and all the luggage. It was such a frantic mess that the baggage scanning guy let me run straight through – I think he must have taken pity on me so laden down with semi-hysterical kids and oodles of bags that he didn’t even make me open anything or take the computer out!
All the while Scott stood in immigration and watched us fly away overhead.
That’s the mess. Here’s the part where miracle #1 happens.
I’d left Scott’s jacket at the airport for him to come and pick up. It was in a bag and I figured he might get cold in the two days before I saw him. He wouldn’t have clean underwear but he would have a jacket to wear.
So Scott & Ben headed to the airport to collect the jacket. Where there was ANOTHER PLANE DEPARTING. This is Lichinga. This doesn’t happen. Ever. Planes go every couple of days. Not two in one day. Turns out there was some convoluted story about planes being diverted and rescheduled the previous day. But there was ANOTHER PLANE and he got on it.
Miracle #1 – There was ANOTHER PLANE. Wow God. Just wow.
There was a catch though. That plane would only get him to Beira, at which point the flight was full to Maputo and he would be on standby.
So he went to Beira and sat and waited. Others checked in and boarded and Scott was still sitting. Finally he was called over and told he had a seat on the plane and would be heading off shortly. Ready to walk across the tarmac following other passengarers, Scott was told he needed to be accompanied by a staff member as he had a ‘special seat’.
Where was that special seat, you ask –in the cockpit!!
Led up the stairs and into the cockpit, Scott was seated on a small fold down seat between captain and co-pilot. I don’t think he could believe it. Apparently hearing Scott’s story of trying to get to us all, the pilot authorised him to join them for the flight.
Did you get that miracle # 2? – Scott had A SEAT THAT DIDN’T EXIST !!Thanks God.
Seriously. It was an amazing unbelievable day where the stressful and then the impossible happened.
And Scott’s still on cloud nine from that once in a lifetime flight in the cockpit – apparently it’s all very interesting and the view out the windscreen was amazing!