Apparently there were 5,000 tiny chickens in Cargo Hold #5 with Indie during our flight from JFK to JNB. We learned this from a KLM rep we met while waiting for “She” to arrive. “She” was running late, that’s all we knew. Despite being e-slapped several times with reminders to arrive before 7:00 am, “She” was running late.
“She” was the only one who could process Indie’s paperwork.
But the chickens were having no trouble with their paperwork.
Well, that’s not true. There was the thing about how the Jamaican woman behind plexiglass could not understand the Deep Southern truck driver (the guy hauling the chickens), and vice versa, though both were ostensibly speaking English. Luckily, the Afro-Caribbean guy could translate. Who needs to move overseas? The whole world lives at JFK cargo. Even “She.” Finally.
With paperwork processed (though not correctly, it turned out), the dog and the fowl were cleared for takeoff, and loaded into Cargo Hold #5.
At $2.00 a fuzzy, peeping pop, those chickens were worth some $10,000. I’ll bet Indie woulda paid anything to shut them up. Sixteen hours of incessant peeping must have been waaaaay worse than sixteen hours of incessant seat-back kicking. We only experienced the latter.
Once we cast of thousands landed in Johannesburg, Jenny and I sped through immigration. Then she split, rushing over to the cargo warehouse to rescue Indie. That left me to wrestle with six 50-pound bags, two carry-ons, and my backpack. I got the easy job, believe me.
Still, I do regret not taking a photo of the airport cart piled high with all that luggage. Or of several fellow travelers, whose scornful looks admonished me with variations of, “Typical American, overpacking for safari.” One reason I did not take these photos is that the bags kept falling off the cart every 15 feet. Now, a crude person would make a “long walk to customs” Mandela reference, but that person isn’t me.
Jenny, meanwhile, was busy running from office to office, paying customs tariffs, searching for waybill numbers that “She” failed to include, and begging people to stop chatting and start helping. Joseph, our shuttle driver, shuttled me and 400 pounds of luggage to meet her, and within a few minutes we had sprung Indie from her tiny, urine-soaked prison. (The clink did stink.)
Happy as she was to be out and find proper relief, she was thrilled to arrive at the familiarity of our flat on the Groenkloof Campus, where our friend Nikki awaited (soon to be joined by our friend Elmar).
One of the first things she wanted to do was visit her old yard, at Flat #3.
Oh, about those 5,000 chickens: I have no idea.