Zambezi Kiwi

Living in Zimbabwe

Alternative adventures and mid-air asthma attacks

November 14, 2019

As you all know, Kepler and I recently made the journey from Zimbabwe to NZ.

Months of careful planning meant that we had a) selected the shortest route home, though more expensive, as I’m 34 weeks mega pregga and b) paid extra for premium economy for me during the longest leg (12 hours) because I’m mega pregga.

All told, the journey from door to door was meant to take 29 hours, with Will’s dad David kindly accompanying us all the way back to Auckland for extra support.

We awoke at 5:45am on the big day to news that one of our flights had been cancelled. As I rolled out of bed in disbelief, Will began putting in calls to figure out what, exactly, was going on and what the back-up plan was.

After 45 minutes of back and forth with the travel agent in NZ, we discovered Qantas’ back-up plan was a code-share with Emirates that meant we would now be flying through Dubai…

Our total travel time had just jumped up to 42 hours.

I burst into tears that lasted the entire way to the airport (sorry David and Bob). With each new bit of news Will had to manage a fresh outbreak- first the news our longest leg was about 16 hours now. Then the news I would be in cattle class the whole way. I remember resentfully thinking that G.K. Chesterton was clearly not considering emotional pregnant women when he wrote “an inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered”. Here’s our teary ‘about to leave’ photo.

Our first leg involved Will’s uncle, Bob, kindly flying us to Harare in his private plane.

After stuffing around with security at Vic Falls Airport (there was a power cut, and the generator had run out of fuel so they couldn’t scan us or bags), we finally made it. Now, a small private plane is a wonderful thing, but it is also a lot bumpier than a bigger plane- especially when you are flying through the gathering storm clouds of rainy season. By the time we made it to Harare I have to confess to feeling quite green, and having spent A LOT of time bonding with the Good Lord over the need for me to remain earth-side a little longer.

After a few hours with the wonderful Jo and Corks in Harare, cleaning out their pantry and drinking all their water, while Kepler destroyed his clean travel shirt playing with BFF Rafferty, we were off for the 9-hour leg from Harare to Dubai (with a layover in Lusaka for those who are wondering about that travel time). Little did I know cattle class would be the least of my worries.

Two hours into the Dubai-leg of our trip, Kepler started having an asthma attack. After a good half hour of coughing with every breath, the team moved us to the very back of the plane (apparently called the galley), where they contacted their doctor on the ground. I was holding steaming towels over Kepler’s face to try to open his airways, since his meds didn’t seem to be working, when they eventually called the onboard doctor. Praise the Good Lord (whom I spent a lot of time bonding with over the need for Kepler to remain earth-side a little longer), the meds started to kick in just as the wonderful Dr Leke did his assessment. He declared us fit to take on the next long-haul flight, after handing out a few instructions as to how to prevent the next asthma attack. I distinctly remember having to hold in an “I love you,” as he gently explained everything and dismissed our apologies for disturbing his flight.

I returned to my three seats, cleared by the kindly Emirates team (the fourth seat in my row remained occupied by a young, non-pregnant male who refused to move as he felt my request to lie down was unworthy), and managed to get in a bit of rest before we landed in Dubai.

How we are smiling in that photo I don’t know, as by now we had flown through the Zimbabwean night. After David arranged for wheelchair aid for me, we were whizzed around the airport to a waiting room seemingly reserved for the elderly, infirm and us. It was blissfully quiet, with huge bathrooms, and a little cafe. So I sat back, while David fed and watered us, then organised toothpaste so we could refresh properly, in anticipation of the final leg: a marathon 16 hour flight from Dubai to NZ according to the tickets.

In the end, although I had no extra seats to rest on, this leg was somehow the easiest. Kepler was a complete angel, and only melted down in the last hour, after sleeping or playing quietly for the ENTIRE 14 hour trip, switching out to sit beside me or David (turns out it was faster than the ticket said, YAY!!). I attempted to doze, woke thanks to baby thrashing my insides, and then repeated that process a few times. Unbelievably, after 14 months and 40- odd hours of transit time, it was finally time to land in NZ. Just as the cabin crew locked the toilets to land, Kepler declared an urgent need to pee, and began holding himself and talking loudly about how that part of his anatomy needed to go potty. Fortunately, we landed before I had to pull out the empty bottle, and Kepler made it on time. Then, we were heading through baggage collection, customs, and THE ARRIVALS DOOR!

After farewells and thanks to David, who had yet to fly to Christchurch and then drive to Ashburton, we headed to green, luscious Cambridge.

So there you have it, our unexpected adventure home…and I have to say that after a bit of sleep, plus happy reunions, I’m beginning to think that G.K. Chesterton wasn’t so far off the mark after all.

12 thoughts on “Alternative adventures and mid-air asthma attacks

  1. Natalie says:

    And now, dear lady, after 14 months in Africa – immigration, new names, delayed containers, sickness, culture shock, elephants, pregnancy, power cuts, water shortages, heavily pregnant 40 hour flight with a preschooler and mid-air emergencies notwithstanding – you can really believe that you can handle anything.

    What. A. Legend.

    Also props to Uncle Dave… that would have been absolutely horrific (moreso) without him, I’m sure.


    1. You would know better than most what it’s like Nats!! You guys are all legends!! Thanks for the support tho-love getting your comments each time ❤️


  2. Ann Evans says:

    Well done Narelle and Kepler you are both Champions. Praise God for His unfailing Love. Truly loved reading your blog. What an experience.


  3. Viki Johnson says:

    WOW! If you ca handle that you can handle anything. Now to relax and let Mum and Dad look after you! Can’t wait to meet your bump!


  4. Nic says:

    You are amazing Narelle!! To handle all of that and be smiling at the end, preparing for the final pregnancy haul is epic. Kepler will be such a cool, empathetic, stoic kid for all these experiences! I hope everything is just blissfully smooth, all things considered, in the next few weeks – you definitely deserve it!


    1. Thanks Nix, I really hope so too. LOTS of people were praying so I’m gonna put the smile down to that!! Otherwise, really not sure how we survived!!


  5. Anonymous says:

    Welcome back to NZ! Enjoy the Waikato. Lots of love from Cam and Sam 😀


  6. Anonymous says:

    A trip of note. Well done under trying circumstances, Narelle, and a special hug to Kepler for being such a “Springbok”!! (Sorry ,had to get that in….:-))


  7. Anonymous says:

    Welcome home Nelly! Thank the good Lord you got through it all (unscathed?) And thank the good Lord for Uncle Dave! Much love, Rud.


  8. Shane says:

    wow, what a trip ,well done for keeping it all together so well .


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