A travel experience…trip from hell…hell no, I am safely home!! In Madeira


It all started at Sunday afternoon, SA time. Marius, our farm manager took us to CTIA (Cape Town International Airport). Our flight was at 18h45, but as I still had a problem with my legs I needed space, leg space! Thus we arrived early to check in, it is Christmas time and flights are full.  Checking in was no problem with our seats.

Then the dreaded words: “Sir, do you have hand luggage?”

Me: “Yes”.  (My hand luggage was about 15kg’s)

She: “Sir, you are overweight by 13kg’s.” (Bloody cow, how does she now? I am not standing on the scale!!! It is our suitcases!) “The flight is full and if you did not have hand luggage it would have been ok. Pity you told me. Sorry Sir, you will have to go and pay”.

Shock, horror and disappointment! I went to pay and all I will say; it was half an air ticket to Madeira! It was cheaper to send 27kg in July airfreight to Madeira in July!

We then proceeded to security.

This big woman: “Sir, are those bottles of wine? You are not allowed to take it on the plane”

!@#$%^&* Cow! These are wine made by myself, with these two hands, labels hand painted by these two hands and collector’s items and it is a special gift to our baby sister, Silke and her husband Matt, in Frankfurt! I only made 565 bottles and hand painted each label. Well, I will not let an uneducated, obnoxious, uninformed and unfriendly person who thinks they are the biggest gift to mankind, who thinks she had the @#$%^  right to take these three bottles of wine for herself! So I asked for a rubbish bin and broke them! (I’ve learned later that a Portuguese guy who works in the cork industry just dropped the 3 bottle box from about one meter high on the floor and then said, “Oops!” He turned around and walked away and let them clean the mess up.


The flight to Frankfurt was uneventful and we watched two movies! Julie and Julia and the other one from the same producers as Wall-E! Matt met us at 05h15 in a snow-covered Frankfurt and he drove us the 70km’s to Wetzlar, at 180km’s on a snow-covered Autobahn. That was only to spend the morning with them. Back to Frankfurt airport and the long queue to check in for our flight to Lisbon! Then through security once again! I even had to take my belt off and I was scared that at any moment I would be standing there with only my jockeys on as my jeans threatened to oblige to gravity! Going through the gate. BEEEEEEEEEEP! After a most unpleasant, foul stinking-breathed security guy did a body search, I had to take my shoes off for an X-ray!

Now for those non frequent travellers, this is a painful procedure to go through security! Off with your belt, watch and out with your wallet, tissues and everything that can trigger the alarm. If you have hand luggage it is out with your laptop from its case and those!@#$%^& that never really fly have that nasty streak in them to make it a most unpleasant experience for travellers! The same with some of those custom people!

Do I sound angry!? Yes, because all this sh*t was caused by those fundamental Arseh*les that caused 9/11. Incidentally, José and I flew back to SA the day after 9/11 from Frankfurt after attending Silke and Matt’s wedding on the previous Saturday!


Then Jose’s rucksack sends out alarm bells!!!!! He forgot that he had put two knives into a holder and by mistake put one of two identical containers into his rucksack! The wrong one! Those knives were supposed to be used at Casa Rustica! For @#$%^&&&, they serve meals with identical knives on the planes! WHAT THE @#$%^&* is the problem!? Or are security people just a bunch of @#$%^&*!@#$%^&!@#$%^&! Idiots!?

Eventually we were in the plane….and after an hour and a half of waiting, our plane was finally de-iced! This while the snowflakes kept on falling. Then finally we had a lift off!

Landing in Lisbon was no problem as we had an hour or two to spare! Then…….TAP (Take Another Plane) announced that our flight was delayed….and eventually they announced it again! So where we were suppose to land at 23h15, we finally arrived in Funchal at 01h15!

Avelino, a friend and d a taxi driver waited for us and took us to Mario’s house where we fetch his car. We had the right keys, I knew where the car key was but lo and behold…no electricity as I needed to see the car’s engine to hook-up the battery! Eventually I remembered I had a torch in my suitcase! So there I was opening my suitcase in the middle of the street and trying to find my torch. That done and the battery connected I tried the ignition. ….and it worked!


We finally arrive at Casa Rustica at about 03h00 and we went to bed at 04h00! The water was connected and the geyser / hot water maker (gas) worked. We could shower and then…..no Cable TV or internet! This is again the !@#$%^&* PT (Portugal Telephone Service) Our debit order never went through…they say it is the bank…but who knows? We paid and eventually we had internet the afternoon! No TV yet.

Then on Wednesday morning….no hot water! Asked around and found a guy that could fix the damn thing! Eight hours later we had wonderful strong hot water and then tonight Christmas Eve when we wanted to get ready for mass…..NO HOT WATER! Will have to phone Cha Cha (the repair man) tomorrow! I WANT HOT WATER!

In the mean time Madeira was hit by some of the most severe storms in the last 20 years! The second night we eventually went to sleep without any electricity. We sat and read by candle light! It went on again at about 02h00!

Well, the storms hit Madeira really hard, trees uprooted, roads closed by rock falls and at the moment the wind is howling around the house! We had leaks and struggle to dry our washing, we even bought a heater..not for the cold as it is never really that cold!


Then yesterday I went to fetch my motorbike by our neighbours, Danny and his parents. It did not want to start! GRRRRRRRRRR! I freed the bike down to the house and I was not able to start it!

Last night we went to the night market (Mercado do Noite) in Funchal! It is in itself a wonderful experience. We enjoyed it very much last year and this year we realised the possibility that we might get wet! Well, within 250 metres from where we parked we were soaking wet! I have never experience rain coming down like that or even walking in rain like that! It came pouring down. When we finally reached the market I was wet right down to my underpants and I could press the water out of my jeans! Half an hour later the rain was over and we moved around. Eventually we had a bit to eat and then decided to call it a day! We both could have lovely hot showers and then in the afternoon…………………..nothing! No water again!

This morning we wanted to go to PdP (Ponto do Pargo). That is the area where José’s parents came from. As we approach the car…José tried to unlock it….no reaction…no lights going on! No neighbours able to help…… then the one guy suggested that we go to a local garage and borrow some jumper leads! So off we go on the motorbike, and on our way back asked one of the neighbours for assistance with a car to jump-start ours! In PdP the car did not want to start and as José had to get to the bank as soon as possible I could give it a running start. I realised that the battery was “Finished and Klaar” and now to try and find a garage to sell you a battery.


In the end we finally found someone in Ribeira Brava to help us and to sell us a new battery! The contact point of the car’s battery and new batteries differ in size and to be able to fit it, this man made a very good plan. (‘n Boer maak ‘n plan maar ‘n Portugees het twee).  So a few hundred Rand later we were off!

This happened all during the last few days…EISH! What else is ahead? In the meantime I suffered from one of my worst tummy bugs!

A travel experience…a trip from hell………hell no, I am safely home!! On my adopted island!

Schalk Visser
Photographer / Farmer, Reluctant farmer frustrated architect. Born and bred Afrikaans. Discovered Madeira in 1988 and fell in love with the island. He bought an old house in Canhas near Ponta do Sol. Calls himself the BOEREGEES! He had three photo exhibitions on Madeira in Madeira and the last exhibition is currently in Japan.