Charles and I used our miles to get free Business Class tickets for this trip. We missed out on the direct flight from Atlanta so we had to take a little detour through Hong Kong. Yes, Hong Kong. But you know what? Business class on Cathay Pacific was pretty sweet. It was quite fun actually. We had to fly from Seattle to Vancouver to get started. In Vancouver we had to recheck our bags on to Cathay. It took over an hour. The staff was not quite sure what to do with our rifles since we did have a transfer in Hong Kong. Believe me, I had already made inquiries ahead of time but they were still a bit freaked out. So they took photos of our Africa permits and match registration, etc. They kept asking for our license of owning guns. Ummm. Americans don’t have to do that. I gave them our US Customs import license and made it sound like that was it. The manager said that in HK we would be met at the gate by a rep to escort us to the rifles to check them and then they will be transferred to the plane for SA. Okay whatever. I just assumed since they never leave the airport they just go as luggage. A little half way through our 13 hour flight to HK the pilot comes on and asks if there is a medical doctor on the plane.The flight attendants were pretty frantic running to the back of plane. Awhile later the pilot says that we will have to make a detour and land in Bejing to get medical help for the passenger. When we landed in bejing it went pretty quickly for them to meet us at plane with ambulance and get the passengers off. one of the co-pilots walked by me and whispered “You were lucky. We almost had to land in Russia.” What? Off we went to HK. In HK we had about 2 hours left of our layover. No one met us at the gate so we went to the Cathay Lounge and took a shower. Just as I came out I heard them paging Charles Mohseni. At this point it was about 45 minutes prior to our flight leaving. A very nervous Cathay gal was there saying we needed to rush to a gate to go down and have something inspected. For a tiny Chinese gal she walked faster than we did! We went to another gate and took a secret door down an elevator and found ourselves outside on the tarmac of the airport! We were now officially in China. Where was my passport? A luggage guy came over and made us follow him on some weird trail. Finally we came to a tiny room with our rifles. They said we needed to wait for the police to come. Oh great I thought. Five police men come in wearing MP5’s around their necks, a glock at the hip and more mags and belts than in a 3 gun match. These guys were maybe 21 years old. They were actually super nice and smiling but they had to make the impression they were doing their jobs. Same S African paper work went to them again with our “license” (US Export form). But the funniest thing was when they inspected the guns. We take the barrels and action apart from the stock for travel. All of the sights and bolt are separate in little cutouts in the foam. THey picked up the barrels and looked straight down them. Then put a flashlight down it. They picked up the sights and looked through them as though there might be a live round in it. The stocks of course are just wood and they kept looking it over thoroughly. Mind you, they had no clue what they were doing but they looked official doing it. I had to keep from laughing. But at this time we are 10 minutes from the flight. Our Cathay gal was calling upstairs to make sure they waited for us. I kept asking the police if they were going to let us make the flight. The sargent smiled and said ok. We locked up the rifles and the luggage guy said don’t worry. The Cathay gal raced us back upstairs and they were just starting to board the plane. We were good. A moment later the luggage guy came up and said he got our rifles on the plane. WHEW!!!! As soon as I sat in my seat/bed I ordered a drink took a sleeping pill and slept the whole way to Jberg.
Johannesburg was the easiest part. The organizer for the US Team arranged a permit agent to meet as soon as we get through customs. The paper work of our guns was sent ahead of time. It took about two seconds to get through that. There were hunters arriving from everywhere with rifles. But if you did not arrange this ahead of time you will wait for hours to check through. Our permit agent is baby sitting our gear so we could go to Cape Town and we will meet with her when we come back up to meet the team. I am sitting with a glass of wine at our hotel in Cape Town as I write this outside. Although fall, it is pretty nice weather. Next article will be from first day of driving down coast to the farthest tip of Africa. Our journey is only beginning.