I landed in Uganda on Monday, after a smooth and uneventful journey. Rich landed in Uganda on Tuesday, delayed by 24 hours and held up by blizzards and bureaucracy. His first connecting flight to Frankfurt landed half an hour after his scheduled flight to South Africa took off. So Lufthansa put him up in an airport motel.
The next day he attempted to board a flight to South Africa. He was originally scheduled to fly with a Lufthansa flight leaving at 10.30pm. The Star Alliance people wanted him on a South African Airways flight instead. He didn't mind which he was on as long as his luggage accompanied him, but each airline claimed the other had his bags.
Then, once he'd finally confirmed that South African had his bags, the check in clerks insisted they could not let him leave for Uganda on a one way ticket without proof of a work permit, enough funds to demonstrate a certain lack of vagrancy, or, at worst, buying an onward ticket!
Despite the paperwork from Red Chilli confirming the job offer and a pending work permit application, they were insistent that things were not in order. Indeed, when I arrived in Uganda I was told that they had called Hennie, our colleague here at Red Chilli, to ask him if he could provide a letter by fax from the Department of Immigration. He just laughed loudly and said "This is Africa. Things don't work like that here."
At that, Frankfurt airport bureaucracy conceded defeat and let him on the plane.
At Jo'burg, with only enough rand in his pocket to buy a cup of tea, he was dismayed to find the baggage collection was beyond immigration and he would have to get a visa. He could see his rucksack going round on the carousel and feared he'd be held up by the same questions about one way tickets.
Thankfully, South Africa gives their visas away for free, and R and his bags were reunited for a free brief hours before finally flying on to Entebbe.
I met him there, feeling only slightly smug about the difference between our journeys...