Into Africa

I mentioned in my very first post that I was planning a month volunteering in South Africa. The time came on Sunday the 23rd of June to actually travel the thousands of miles to get to my destination. Although incredibly excited about the trip itself, the thought of the flights absolutely terrified me. I had to get a plane from Heathrow to Cairo. Then from Cairo to Johannesburg. Then from Jo-burg to Richards Bay. From there, a minibus would take me to the game reserve I was to stay at.
As I said goodbye to my Mum at the airport, tears were streaming down my cheeks. I felt that my trip was a long distance to travel alone and I felt afraid. However once I’d calmed down and settled myself down next to the departure board at Heathrow, I actually felt quite proud of myself. It was kind of an adventure and I was brave enough to be setting out alone. As I walked along the long corridor to my gate, clutching my documents to my chest, I thought ‘this is who I am’. Really, to the rest of the world, I am but a number, a name and a photo (and a less than average one at that!!).
The boarding lounge was a hideous colour – dirty white walls bathed in a falsely yellow light. The chairs were different shades of the same mouldy green and at an attempt at interior décor there are pictures on the walls of flowers in vases. Thankfully as more people come in and sit town, the seats are obscured by a sea of culture. It makes the room much less depressing as your hear people chatter excitedly about their holidays. A few minutes before I left to board the flight, I saw a man drop his sandwich on the floor. I watched it fall in slow motion to the floor and saw his expression change to utter disappointment as I realised what he had done. It think it was tuna mayo. It was a truly heart wrenching moment.
Towards the end of my flight to Cairo, I looked out of the window. The sky was soot black and the moon was gleaming a bright pearl white.  It’s reflection shimmered in the sheen of the plane wing: a beautiful sight. Cairo sprawled below us, a sea of ebony speckled with orange pinpricks of light and moving pairs of white dots as vehicles sped along a motorway. Looking at the ground, it could have been any city in the world but for the voice-over informing us we were a few minutes from touching down upon Egyptian soil.
The 8 hour flight from Egypt to South Africa was exhausting. I probably got a maximum of 3 hours sleep. The woman next to me, though, was inspiring. She was a big black South African woman from Johannesburg. We only exchanged a few words of conversation, but just before our plane landed, she lay her hand on my arm and said ‘may God be with you on your travels.’ I felt humbled.
Finally, after almost 9000 miles, I had arrived in South Africa. The hard part was over.


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