It’s hard to really tell when one day starts and the next day ends when you’re flying, but “today” was spent in the air, flying over about half of Europe and basically all of Africa, since I started in Amsterdam and ended in Johannesburg. I got to Amsterdam about 45 minutes late, but thankfully still had enough time to catch my layover. While waiting for my Amsterdam-Johannesburg flight, I met a really cool girl named Taylor, who is going to be travelling all over Africa (including a visit to Rwanda, where she spent two years as part of the Peace Corps). I caught up with her again once we (finally, ten hours later) got off the plane, and it was really nice to have someone to go through customs with and she also was able to tell a lot of random international-travel wisdom. In addition, both she and I were debating between the same two hotels to stay in our quick overnight in Jo’burg (although she chose the Protea one, while I chose the Sunrock Guesthouse).
Then, as Taylor and I were waiting for our bags, the funniest thing happened. Someone noticed my luggage tag on my backpack (which I made to say Julia Kee, Maru-a-Pula School, Gaborone, Botswana) and he said “Hi, are you going to MaP?” Perhaps rather stupidly, I threw all my stranger-danger out the window and answered with “yes, are you?” (thinking maybe he was an intern from a different American university). He said, no, but one of his block mates is headed to MaP, too (“block mate” is a Harvard term used to describe the group of one to seven other people that you can live with sophomore through senior year).
It turns out that Nick is blocking with Jennifer (who is one of the other interns and also a girl in my sorority…turns out he actually went with her to our DG formal!) It’s such a small world (and boy am I glad that I didn’t put my USA address on my luggage tag!) He then informed me that he was sleeping at the airport tonight. Since both Taylor and I were headed to meet our respective van drivers to take us to our hotels, I invited Nick along to see if there were any free rooms in either of our hotels. It turns out there were, and Nick was able to spend the night in a double room with me. Now I know this sounds terrible, but I was actually so glad to have a male travelling with me. I really did feel a lot safer (and Nick got a better night’s sleep, a great breakfast and a shower out of the deal, so I guess it worked out well for both of us!)
We woke up this morning, had a great breakfast (including eggs and pancakes!!) and then headed back to the airport. I must say, when the driver told me I’d only need 2 hours to get through security and customs, I was a little skeptical, but we literally left the hotel at 8am and I was at the gate to load the plane at 8:45! Truly remarkable (although that may have something to do with it being an early Saturday morning, but even still, it was a very efficient process!)
Getting onto the plane was a different process, too! I was waiting for quite some time, and just as I was about to get up to get in line for the flight, I saw Jennifer! Literally two seconds after I saw her, Alice walked in. We were all just so excited to see each other, although only Jennifer and I were on the same flight (Alice’s was about an hour later). First we had to go on a bus, and then the bus took us to our plane, which we literally walked on to (fancy, fancy, I know!) The plane was tiny – it only held 46 people, and seemed a little unsteady in the wind, but we got to Gabs (Gaborone) safely, which is all that matters!
TG is the man at Maru-a-Pula who is basically in charge of international interns, and he was waiting for Jennifer and me when we got off the plane. We then had to wait an hour for Alice and Daniel (and, it turns out, for my luggage, which was thankfully on Daniel’s plane). Then we headed out to Riverwalk mall, had a great lunch (chicken and avocado sandwich yay) and finally headed out to our new home – MaP.
Jennifer, Alice, Grace and I are in the female annex (which is right next door to the female dormitory on campus) while BK and Daniel are in the male annex across campus. Alice and I are sharing a room, which is next door to Jennifer’s, which is next door to Grace’s.
After we unpacked, we showered and then headed to dinner. We were all exhausted, but it was nice to get non-airplane food. Afterwards, we headed back to Alice and my room and Daniel, Alice, Jennifer and I all played cards for a good two hours. We were very impressed that we were able to stay awake until 10 (crazy night, I know!) but we really wanted to get on a somewhat normal schedule.
TGT: 1) Seeing Alice and Jennifer at the airport 2) pancakes and eggs for breakfast 3) being able to take a warm shower at MaP
Hasta la bye-bye,