I’m in South Africa. What?! It’s so crazy! The past couple days traveling and getting here have been a whirlwind. I left from Atlanta to Washington Dc, two hours. Then from DC to Senegal, seven hours. Then from Senegal to Johannesburg, eight hours. Then from Jo-burg to Port Elizabeth, 2 hours. With layover and everything in-between it took a total of twenty two hours, minus driving to get here. Whirlwind. I didn’t switch planes in Senegal, actually I wasn’t even allowed to leave the plane. I sat next to a cute girl that was a senior in high school. She told me all about her college plans and future dreams of adventure. We gossiped, told stories and shared advice as we didn’t leave each other’s side for seventeen hours. I was lucky there.
Once in Johannesburg I met a boy named Stephen that was headed to a school about an hour away from mine to study. We bonded over local beer as we waited out our delayed fight. We were lucky though because the two Port Elizabeth flights before ours were cancelled and ours still somehow went through. We parted ways in Port Elizabeth as NMMU students were there to greet me and take me next door to the hotel. My first night and I was by myself, which honestly didn’t matter since I was dead tired by this point. The next morning I had to get up to be back at the airport at 8 am for my ride to my new home. I thought other students would be there as well but with all the delays and cancellations I was the only one. Leaving the airport I got my first real taste of South Africa. It was unreal. Driving on the other side of a road lined with short palm trees and men riding in large vans shouting places I had never heard of. My first taste of Africa.
Once I got to my apartment, the landlord showed me around and one of my flatmates, was just getting up. She’s great, her name is Anne and she’s from Germany. Once I had settled in some we went with a couple other girls to the local mall to find bedding and groceries. We took a minibus taxi, which I found out was what the men in large vans yelling were actually called. It’s basically just a shared taxi for about fifteen people. It’s only seven rand (about a dollar) to get almost anywhere in the city. They just pull over all the time and randomly pick up and drop off random people. I quickly learned it’s for daytime use and use in groups. Private taxicabs are more expensive but more reliable, we took one on the way home and it was 100 rand for the four of us (about four dollars each). On the cab ride home the driver was telling us places to avoid and to basically never use your cell phone in public. Safety is a huge deal here. You have to be so aware of your surrounding and just make sure you at least look like you know what you’re doing. It’s such a different world down here, and it will definitely take me a little while to understand it.
My apartment is pretty decent. My room is big, a basic college dorm but like twice the size. I share a bathroom and kitchen with one other girl from America, I haven’t met her yet though. The kitchen has a microwave, stove (ish), and a half working toaster oven…. Cooking will be interesting. I don’t have internet here and that’s going to be something hard to get used to. We have it on campus but I’ll have to figure that out next week… probably when I post this. This hardly even touches on my first week here. I am a fifteen minute walk from the beach! There is an ice cream shop on the way down so I have spent my afternoons eating ice cream on these incredible beaches. It doesn’t get much better than this….
Classes started today so it will only get harder from here but I am simply loving this place.
Stories to come 🙂
“The darkest thing about Africa has always been our ignorance of this place.”
– George Kimble.