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Friday, February 5, 1999
Departure, Rochester, NY

The moment finally came. At 1 PM, a friend of me picked me up and took me to the airport, stopping by way of a bookstore to get the aforementioned replacement copy of 'Travel Journal Africa'. After he dropped me off, I was on my own, 'running on internal power' as they would say at NASA.

Going through security on this trip worried me a lot. I hate having to do it. This time, I asked to have the film hand inspected. I handed the film bag to one of the security people, who handed it back without even looking in it after I was through the metal detector. I remarked "You're not even going to look inside?" This piqued the ears of the security supervisor, who chided the worker for not being thorough. She went off in the opposite direction, and wasn't happy until she had opened every single can of film! In the process of this frustrating situation, I had left my ticket laying on the table outside of security. It was in a new outer wrapper, so I did not even initially recognize it. Embarrassed and relieved at the same time, I purposed to protect my papers better from there on in!

Before long, we were airborne in a small Saab 340 aircraft. Although this was a small aircraft, it wasn't all that uncomfortable. However, it was low-flying and slow. It took almost two hours to fly to New York City. This same route can be driven in about 8 hours. Of course, due to the cold, my ears plugged up and wouldn't open upon descent. This despite a strong dose of Sudafed!

At JFK airport in New York City, we were loaded in a bus after deplaning. This took us to whatever terminal we needed to go to, and was a nice touch. (JFK is a sprawling airport where the individual terminals are not connected to each other. A system of buses moves people between the terminals.)

The first task was to check in. For the first time, I was asked for my passport. I ended up having to show it a couple more times before I was on board the aircraft.

The British Airways terminal seemed strangely quiet. This was due mainly to my plugged ears. It became progressively livelier as my ears started to equalize.

I had a couple small pizzas and a piece of chocolate cake for dinner. This was surprisingly tough to do when carrying a heavy duffel bag, a camera bag and trying to juggle a food tray. 'Last time for good 'ole Western food!' I said to myself as I enjoyed the pizza.

While waiting for my flight, I met some people who were also on their way to East Africa. They were traveling with Collette Tours on an itinerary I had briefly considered. Comparing notes with them helped make the hours slip by.

Finally, the moment came to board the aircraft. This plane was a Boeing 767, a state-of-the-art, mid wide-body aircraft. It was generally roomy and comfortable. The legendary British Airways service lived up to it's reputation. We were spoiled, maybe too much so!

As soon as we were airborne, my ears opened back up, and things were much more pleasant. I had planned to sleep on this overnight flight, but did not get much sleep. The constant service, along with the TV monitors overhead tended to constantly disturb me. I was actually most comfortable when we ran into turbulence , which happened occasionally throughout the flight. (We were fighting the jet stream a good bit of the way.) The flight proceeded Northward out of New York City and continued North to Gander, Newfoundland. From there, it crossed the Atlantic Ocean, making landfall over Ireland. About 8 hours later, we touched down at Gatwick airport in England. This airport is just outside of London.

Next: Merry 'ole England!

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