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DODGES IN AFRICA
From London to Zimbabwe

by Craig Dodge

The choice of airline was made purely on a cost basis, something I regretted. I wouldn't do it again for the saving of 50.

When we boarded at Gatwick it was on a Boeing and I thought 'well that's alright, at least its not a Russian built effort.'

At Sophia we changed planes .... to a Tupolev! Oh well!

The flight from Gatwick to Sophia was full and remained so after Sophia. It was full unfortunately of people who clearly had problems with personal hygiene. It came as something of a shock to be told that we were landing at Lagos as this was not on the flight plan I was given. I had been told that Sophia was definitely the only stop.

As we disembarked I asked how long we would be there and was told 1 1/2 hours. Four hours later we got back on! This time the plane was half empty and the leg from Lagos to Harare was not too bad. We landed at Harare 24hrs after having left Gatwick.

The return flight was the reverse - half empty from Harare to Lagos. I had made friends with a guy on the way over to Zim. He like me had lived in Zim and had left and was going back to visit his family. We arranged to try and keep 3 seats between the 2 of us Since the plane was not full, I moved to a 3 seat section which was completely empty and had more leg room.

We had the same length of stop at Lagos and while we were waiting to take off, I watched with a sinking feeling that the plane starting to fill up. Remembering the awful flight over that I had had, with a very large person taking all the space, I thought, 'something has to be done!'

I felt, 'why let all that acting training, ability and experience go to waste?' So I grabbed the airsick bag and suddenly 'became very sick'. The high humidity helped in producing buckets of perspiration. Shortness of breath was clearly apparent, an overwhelming need to lie down as much as possible (ie taking up all three seats - or at least as much of them as was the same difference), rolling eyes, a heaving stomach and oddly enough although every other seat in the plane was taken, no-one wanted to sit next to me!

In a miraculous turn of events, as soon as the plane was airborne and all the other passengers safely ensconced in their seats, I suddenly recovered and had a very pleasant rest of the flight.

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