The Fall of Plan “A”…


Watching Cape Town International Airport’s live update on their website for flights arriving in Cape Town, every now and again I push F5 to refresh the page. A British Airways flight carrying a dear friend of mine and her boyfriend from the UK was scheduled to land at 3pm yesterday.  It is delayed and in order not to leave work too early I keep refreshing the page to check the latest update. Now due to land at 3:35pm.


I’m so excited.

I can’t wait to leave for the airport.

They have no idea I’m coming.

You see two days ago I gave Michelle and Tony, who are hiring a car for their two-week holiday, some directions from the airport to my office so that they can collect my house keys.  Michelle used to live in Cape Town, which is where we met and became really close friends. Every few years she visits South Africa and we still remain in touch while she is away. This time she is bringing her boyfriend, Tony with her. It will be his first time in South Africa.

One last time I refresh the website. The flight is still due to land at 3:35pm. It was time to go.

Singing all the way to the airport along to my favourite songs in the car, I arrive in good time and head inside to arrivals. I check the arrivals board and see it now says the flight is delayed again and is scheduled to arrive at 4:15pm but is expected at 3:55pm.  Is it 3:25pm so I head off it get a Vida coffee and then walk to the arrivals lounge where I find a seat to wait. I sip on my coffee and watch as people come and go. I love airports, especially the arrivals lounge. Although the goodbyes at an airport are sad, the hello’s make up for the goodbyes by far. I sit there and watch as people run to greet a loved one. Some hug really tight, some hug fast and quickly and look around to see who’s watching. Some laugh out aloud and some cry. Some even do both. I sat there laughing out aloud myself as people ran to each other to say hello and tears welled up in my eyes. It’s such an emotional place and the joy just fills every corner of the arrivals hall. You can’t help but laugh at the happiness as it spills over, touching everyone standing there.  I was engrossed and so excited for my turn.

Each time a new lot of passengers came through the sliding doors I would glance up, knowing that it was too early for my friends to arrive but watched the hello’s unfold anyway.


I checked the board again and suddenly it said BA6417 had landed at 3:38pm. I checked my watch, that was 10 minutes ago. I sat up straighter and began to pay more attention. I doubt they would be out so quick but I watched the people walking out just in case. Kids running to greet someone. Flying arms and swirling hugs ensue, kisses exchanged, hands cupping the faces of long-lost loved ones. The arrivals lounge rocks!! My stomach is doing back flips and I’m ready to jump up and run myself as my friend walks through. People continue to come and go but no Mish and Tony insight ~ yet.


I check my watch again, thinking maybe they are organizing their car hire on that side before coming out. That can take a while so I wait a bit longer. I decide to send a sms to Michelle’s phone saying “Welcome home my friend” to see if I can get a reply and an idea of where they are in the airport.

I wait.

And I wait.

And I wait.

Others are also still waiting and this puts me at ease.

I wonder if they haven’t hired their car and taken some secret passage I don’t know about out that side of arrivals without having to come out to this public section.  I glance over at some other people who have been waiting at arrivals since I have.  Maybe our people are on the same plane! Maybe they have lost luggage or are having problems sorting out there car.

We wait some more.

I check my phone.

No reply.

Suddenly, the other people’s people arrive.

My friends are next.

Well, I hope at least.

I continue to watch the hellos. I laugh and I get misty eyed along with the joy that continues to overflow in the arrivals hall.

Suddenly my phone beeps into life.

It’s a message from Tony’s phone.

“Hi Lara just got car leaving airport now! (This is Tony’s number) Michelle can’t work out directions. Will make way to Montague Gardens and txt from there. What time do you finish work?”


How did they get past me?

I bet they took that secret passage out back.

Sneaky. Sneaky.

I jump up, not to greet them but to rush out to my car to get back to my office in Century City. It’s a good thing I gave them the correct directions to my office and not some arb directions to Poffadder!  Haha that would have been funny sending them on a wild goose chase to some random place.

Right, it was time for Plan B.

I didn’t know what Plan B was.

There was no Plan B.

I didn’t quite anticipate needing one.  Good thing I’m quick on my feet. It really wasn’t my intention to set them off on the roads of Cape Town alone but Michelle, no doubt looking for some adventure, sneaked past me somehow!

I get back to my car and take a different route to them. I am sure I could catch up to them as I sent them on the freeways to my office. But still I decide to take another route as it’s a little bit quicker. This is when it happened. I got to witness my first smash and grab. Well, technically it was just a grab as the window was open so it didn’t have to be smashed. We are sitting at a red light, I’m about the 5th car from the front in the left hand lane and I’m ever observant and currently looking out my driver’s and checking my mirrors to make sure now one is lurking.  But some commotion up front catches the corner of my eye. I turn my head to look forward to see through the windows of the car in front of me to the car in front of him. A man is attacking a woman on the back seat and punches are flying.

I didn’t even think. Adrenalin took over I turned off my ignition and pulled out my keys and was opening my door when the guy bolted past the car in front of me and then past my car into the field to the left of us. My heart was racing. I closed my door again and locked it. The guy in the car in front of me looked completely bewilded. He looked from the car in front of him to where the grab happened to the guy running and back to the car in front of him again. He did this about 5 times as if checking again and again as if to make sure he really saw what he just saw. It all happened so quickly and then it was over.

I on the other hand, was jumping out my car. Not sure what I had in mind to do this to this man grabbing this woman’s jewelry through the open window from around her neck but I was ready to throw a few punches in my long tight ankle length skirt I had on.  They say it is amazing when adrenalin takes over what you can physically do. I didn’t doubt for one second had I caught this guy I would have been able to hold him down. Little shit. What right has he to steal and attack someone?

As the lights turn green, cars begin to move forward and I’m back on my mission to meet my friends, silently reminding myself “forgive them for they know not what they do.”

As I continued my journey to meet up with my lost friends, a few sms’s come through from Tony. I pull over to read them and reply. It appears our messages are slightly delayed. They pulled over to wait for me at a petrol station. I told them to keep driving towards Montague Gardens and I will meet them there as I took a different route them.

I had to laugh, they are not used to our big highways. They live in Cornwell and are used to tractors chugging along their tiny country roads!  Suddenly they are on the N2 and the M5 highways and trucks and taxis are flying past them and cars are zipping in and out of lanes and speeds you do not want to know and wait there’s someone catching a lift of the back of a truck just hanging on to the back of the door.  Ah yes, welcome to Africa!


A final sms from Tony just as I’m driving through Monte Vista, just two minutes away from work. I pull over where it’s safe to read it.

“Sorry not having a lot of luck. M not use to this side of the city. We are at the spar at Monte Vista Blvd. Missed the turn.”

I reply,

“I’m a few minutes away, don’t move I know where you are. I’m on my way. Lol, trust Mish to go on an adventure 5 minutes after arriving!”

A few minutes later I pull up to Spar and see Michelle standing outside the car. I pull into an empty parking space on the opposite side of the road. I can’t climb out my car fast enough and then in slow motion we are crossing the road and meet somewhere in the middle, not worried about cars we finally get to hug and say hello and laugh at the adventure unfolding with her just 5 minutes in Cape Town!!

She has arrived!!!

Tony gets out of the car and we hug, meeting in the middle of the road for the first time, laughing at his first adventures on Cape Town roads. Then we move to the side of the road as a car comes along.

Safely found, they follow me home!

Murphy’s Law had it that they got off the plane quite quickly and when they got inside their luggage was already on the carousel as they walked up to it and within 10 minutes of landing they were walking out of the arrivals hall, right past where I was sitting, on a mission to get to their car hire so they could meet me at my office. I’m not sure how I missed them, maybe I was updating my facebook status saying how excited I was to be surprising my friend at the airport, maybe my eyes were blurred with the tears of joy as I watched others say hello. It doesn’t really matter, it just adds to our adventures and will be something we laugh about for years to come.

Sometimes surprise goes wrong.

But the adventures that unfold are just as good.

Arriving home, I showed them their room and we made some tea and then settled down to catch up before heading out to dinner with a beautiful view over the bay of Table Mountain and where we could watch the sunset over the Atlantic ocean.

If anything, I have been blessed with the most amazing friends, now scattered all over the world. Oceans and cities separating us but no time is lost when we are together again. It’s like we never parted and we take off just where we left off. Last night we caught up, we laughed till our bellies hurt and then laughed some more.

It’s good to have her back and to Tony, may Cape Town show you its beautiful magic that we all know!

This morning when I left for work they were still fast asleep. The adventures of their first day, along with all their travelling has caught up with them, not to mention of course I have the comfiest bed in the whole entire world…!

A few pics of Mish and me in past adventures shared since we met back in 2005/2006.

A few pics of Mish and me in past adventures shared since we became friends back in 2005.

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