Well, I definitely have to admit that 48 hours of constant travel with two all night flights is enough to burst almost anyone’s balloon….but not mine, of course.
After my post yesterday afternoon from the Frankfurt Airport where I first had to pay to use internet and than suffer the agony of typing on a keyboard laid out for German users. Let’s just say that it is frustrating to be trying to type out messages watching the clock tick down and a keyboard that is meant for another language. Following that lovely adventure I sought greener pastures, or should I say fresher body odors.
Frankfurt Airport comes equipped with shower facilities that you can pay to use and by yesterday afternoon I was ready for both a shower and fresh clothing. My commentary on this experience will be expressed in one sentence only:
one of the most bizarre travelling experiences I have “ever” had is standing naked in the shower listening to someone barking out airport announcements in German. Enough said! While it was lovely to be clean, somehow it just felt utterly strange.
This was later followed by an eleven hour flight from Germany to Johannesburg, South Africa in which I had the great fortune of an empty seat next to me. Remember the stretching story from yesterday? Well, I put that flexibility to what I thought was good use and twisted my body up into a pretzel so that I could try to sleep with my feet elevated. Picture this please, one very large bum angled into the back corner of one seat so that my two legs could be bent and twisted up over the very large, unmovable and extremely hard armrest to rest in the seat next to me. This was a pose worthy of any yogi master and caused more than one of my fellow passengers to stop and stare.
At 7:30 am South Africa time, I disembarked on the continent of Africa and my heart truly sang. For all of those who doubted whether I knew what I was getting myself into let me tell you one more time – this is truly where I want to be for the next phase of my life. The feel of the African sun and breeze felt oh so familiar and welcoming. It was like coming home only I have never been this far south on the African continent before.
After a four hour stop over in Johannesburg, it was on to one last plane and a 30 minute flight to “Gabs” as we locals call it. And this time walking off the plane onto the tarmac the feeling of being where I belonged felt even stronger. This is the Africa that you see on tv, in movies and read about in books. The sun is even hotter here than South Africa, the dust blows on the wind and call of the savanna is in the air. As I entered the terminal with everyone else I immediately sensed the bonds of community and culture. Children run barefoot through the housing sites kicking up dust that it is almost as red as PEI‘s. Women sell fresh fruit and veggies at the side of the street off of little tables. Men lounge under the canopy of leafy trees to escape the heat of the sun. Cows and other domestic animals graze there as well. While Gabs is a capital city, it is so typically African that other than the row upon row of houses and the occasional mall you could pretend that you really are in a smaller African village. For me, that is part of the magic of Africa.
Since arriving here, I have been warmly greeted by everyone I met, and the woman who passed me through customs and passport verification declared herself to my first friend in Botswana – please don’t ask me to write out the phrase as I don’t start language classes until next week. She made me repeat it at least four times and with each time both her’s and my smiles increased. Here everyone smiles at you and look for you to smile back. There is no coldness here, community is community and your colour, race, sex or appeareance does not seem to matter in the least. You are here and you are part of the community – it is as simple as that. As I related my new friend story at supper this evening I was told, be careful who you give your phone number to – and no it is not for the reasons that you think – it is because, yes, they will call you and ask you to join them for supper or what ever is on the agenda. Your are welcomed into their lives, culture and community. And once you are part of that, there is no pretending you are not. You become included in pretty much all social activities.
The generousity is astounding. My flight was early arriving and my WUSC contact was not at the gate when I came out. Once it became clear that I was looking for someone I could not find, concerned and generous shuttle drivers were offering the use of their cell phones for me to use to call my contact. Would that have happened in Canada, possibly yes but far less likely. Here in Botswana it is simply a fact of life.
It is time for bed for me as I haven’t slept really in well over 48 hours or longer considering the frenzy of packing up my house and moving last weekend. Tomorrow I will start posting pictures and stories from Botswana. I have the most incredible little apartment that includes the use of swimming pool, my own private terrace, two cats, a dog and two tortises. I also begin my orientation process tomorrow so there will be lots to share.
Have a good nite everyone! Tonight will be my first night sleeping in Africa and my lovely landlady even left me a special African liquor which is alot like Baileys to drink before bed to help me sleep. All is well with the World!