Friday, March 8, 2013

On the Road Again! SOUTH AFRICA!


So a week ago, I set off on an adventure.  SOUTH AFRICA!  The goal was to see the country and make a short film (maybe or maybe not related).  So on Feb. 24th I took off for Johannesburg.  Everything started out well (except for my leaving the house a bit late and having a crazy rush the airport, which actually standard so i never really worry - have only missed a plane once and that's a whole other story.....).  I was flying on Virgin Airlines for the first time ever.  (Can I just say: Those flight attendants are so chic!  Love the chignon look.  And when you walk onto the plane the first thing you see is the bar! Very James Bond-y.)

But thanks to the crappy NYC weather, we departed 2 hours late and consequently missed the connecting flight at Heathrow. That meant an overnight stay in London waiting for the next flight.  A ramshackle little group of us was sent to a nearby hotel for the night: a young Afrikaaner couple, a Coloured South African with her White American boyfriend, a middle aged Jewish South African, a 30ish Israeli and me. All those racial classifications, I would come to learn, are natural in SA.  (I'm going to now use the initials SA to refer to "South Africa" and "South African") We all decided to have dinner together and that was my first real introduction with SA culture. I learned 4 important things about SA. :  1. They refer very freely to racial/ethnic distinctions - no weirdness about saying "Black" vs "African American" here.  2. I learned the history of the Jews in SA as the older guy explained how his family came and how they lived.  3. I learned the difference between the White Afrikaaners - they are divided into English-speaking and Afrikaans-speaking (basically, the English and the Dutch) and language is quite a personal and political issue for them, too!  4. And lastly, that they all look down on Johannesburg. "Why are you even going there? Why not go straight to Cape Town?" They asked me that repeatedly.

Anyway, we had a lovely dinner (except that I felt like the Israeli was trying to trump me on the number of exotic destinations traveled to...what is it about backpackers that make us so competitive when it comes to roughing it around the world?) and I was no longer annoyed at having lost one of my days in SA.

Next day, I watched the Pope's farewell ceremonies, groaned at the non-functioning internet which was preventing me from getting my already late homework done, had the national dish of England - fish and chips (Why don't they season the fish and the batter??!! Ugh, it was just a plate of hot, tasteless grease.  I think the British might be well served to head to Harlem and have some Famous Fish's fish and fries. Mmmmmmm. No comparison.  ....but I digress.) - then we all headed back to the airport.  Somehow, Mr. Competitive and I ended up spending hours together waiting for our flights, but the awkwardness was gone and we chatted easily.  It was nice.  He even walked me to to my far away gate (he had a later flight). Redeemed!  :-)

So me and my little red backpack were finally off!  Joburg-bound!  And, yes, that is all I travel with. I detest those giant backpacker things and a proper suitcase just doesn't seem right for my kind of travel. This little red miracle double as my luggage and my pillow (on long bus/train rides). It's small enough that it's always considered carry-on so I never have to let it out of my sight.  That's super important for a solo traveler.  It goes to the beach with me, shopping, dinner... whatever.  And never really looks out of place.  And as for how much it carries...  I got stopped in Heathrow security (the metal boning in my strapless bra set off the alarm - yes, it takes STEEL to hold up these triple Ds!), so they searched my bag and everyone around was shocked at how much stuff was in there. :-) Oh, I know how to pack, baby. Sandals, boots, 15 underwear, pants, shorts, dresses, tops, sweater, pjs, swim suits, laptop, chargers, toiletries.... Yes, honey, all that's in this little bag. :-)

my poor bag has been beaten up on all these adventures, but i won't dare replace...or repair it, apparently.

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