Travel Days; Days 1 & 2 in South Africa

8 01 2012

Whew!  It’s been a whirlwhind few days, but we are here and absolutely loving it so far.  Here’s a recap of where I’ve been since we departed on January 5.

We left Newark airport the evening of January 5.  The five of us (Kaitlyn, Katie, Amanda, Sana and myself) met at the airport, had dinner with our respective parties, and then waited at the gate for what seemed like forever.  We took a six hour plane ride to Frankfurt, which I was only able to sleep for part of, but more than my other travel companions.  We got to Frankfurt and it took us a while to get some Euros from the ATM and then figure out how to buy tickets (since the machines didn’t take credit cards for some reason), then I studied the map to figure out how to get to downtown Frankfurt.  We went downtown and just walked around for a while.  It was super super cold, although the Germans didn’t seem to notice and were still sitting outside sipping on beers while us Americans were freezing our butts off.

After hanging out in Frankfurt for about two hours, we decided to head back to the airport to wait for our next flight and take some naps.  We then got on our South African Airlines ten hour flight to Johannesburg.  The flight attendants were SO nice and the two meals we got were also pretty great.  Since I typically only fly domestic, it’s been a long time since I was served anything besides pretzels on my flight.

We landed, went through passport control, and then had to wait forever for our bags.  After finally figuring out how to get carts for our baggage and then all of us exchanging some US dollars for South African Rand, we met Kaitlyn and Kurt, two of the teachers at AISJ who came to pick us up with Felix, our personal driver from the school during our stay here.

After driving through Johannesburg and talking to Kaitlyn and Kurt, we went to our dorms.  We are staying in a small building, with individual bedrooms and a bathroom to share (with two toilets and two showers) between the five of us.  It’s right on campus and just for us, which is super convenient.  We’re next to the middle school and a short walk away from the elementary school, just down a few flights of stairs.

We got a few hours to settle in, where all of us took naps and showered to freshen up.  We were then picked up by Felix (our driver, who lives on campus and is Zulu, so we’re learning some Zulu words) and taken to Sarah and Justin’s house.  Sarah is Sana’s co-op and Justin also works at the school.  We had a braii (Afrikaans for barbecue) with meat kababs and other great salads and snacks.  We got a chance to meet some of the other teachers from AISJ and hang out with Sarah and Justin’s kids.

After that, we went to Woolworth’s, which is similar to a Whole Foods over in the States.  We picked up some food and then headed back to our house.  Everyone went to sleep, since the seven hour time difference is a hard adjustment after traveling for over twenty-four hours.  I actually swelled up from being on the plane and was swollen for most of the day, including my fingers and ankles and knees, but after some aspirin and a night of sleep I’m happy to report that today I feel much better.

Today most of us woke up pretty early since we went to bed fairly early.  Felix picked us up at 10am and we went to meet Kaitlyn and Kurt at the Rosebank African Market.  It’s a HUGE flea market, with a lot of South African (and other surrounding countries like Zimbabwe) vendors.  We went to the upstairs market first, which is a little more spread out and is only open on Sundays.  It was mostly handmade and there were Afrikaaner merchants and black South African merchants, and it was really interesting to see the differences between the booths.  I started buying some gifts for people back home already, and need to make a list to make sure I don’t forget anyone!

After being upstairs for a while, we went downstairs, where all the merchants are black South Africans and a little pushier.  You can haggle a lot more downstairs and I got a necklace for myself, and we can’t wait to go back to explore the downstairs market even more.  After the market, we went with Kaitlyn, Kurt, Kaitlyn’s parents, and two of our co-ops (Sarah and Corrin) to a great restaurant, the Throbbing Strawberry.  The food was FANTASTIC.  I had a sushi roll for an appetizer, tiger prawns (like shrimp scampi, but with prawns), and then coffee and dessert, all for under $30 US.

Then we took another trip to the grocery store, and now here we are back in our house.  I still have to unpack and settle in a little more, but definitely want to carve out some time so I can start writing in my real journal and read outside before the sun goes down.  It is so beautiful here, I cannot to show you all these wonderful pictures. We’re planning on taking a walking tour of our campus on video so you can see how great it is!  The open campus looking over Johannesburg is truly breathtaking.  For now, I’ll leave you with these pictures of our travels so far.

Until next time!

Me with one of Sarah's daughters! By the end of lunch, she gave me kisses and high fives. 🙂

Nelson Mandela's city house (the front door of it, at least!)

Tiger prawns with a lemon hollandaise sauce over fettucine noodles ... yum!

Amanda with a sign with her last name, Obst, which means fruit in German!




3 responses

8 01 2012


8 01 2012

Those prawns are ginormous!

16 01 2012

You get a personal driver? We need drivers in Joyzee with all the crazy bad drivers that are here!

Your trip sounds exhausting but very exciting! Can’t wait to hear more! And pictures please! Pictures! Pictures! Pictures! You know I’m a visually-oriented person! Pictures, I demand!

Also, teach us some Zulu words that you learnt! I can share them with my students!

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