I’m in America!
I left PTA around 2pm on Saturday, even though my flight didn’t leave until 8:30pm because I’ve heard more than one horror story from PCVs who have left too late and missed their flights, to their complete loss. I took the Gautrain to JNB airport, which was nice, easy, and relatively cheap considering my other options. When we flew in for PC last year, all 56 of us were herded through customs, luggage claim, and onto a bus in a foggy haze of exhaustion, so I was a little overwhelmed on entering the airport, and frustrated with its general African-like lack of useful signs. But I found my way through check-in, rather lax security, and to my gate, and spent the next 4 hours or so talking with a few Americans and people watching (moving sidewalks….that’s all I need to say). About an hour before the flight left, the told us to get into lines because they were doing another security check (just sayin’-good idea) and manually searched through every single carry-on of all of us. I had fun stunning people when I spoke Setswana, and found my wondering aisle seat on the plane and started watching a movie before we even took off.
The flights went well, though it was pretty rough the entire time. For almost the first 10 hours straight, we were told to remain in ours seats and keep out seatbelts on. We kind of ignored that because in 10 hours, nearly everyone has to use the toilet. It got a little better when we were over the Caribbean, but still, I felt like a bobble-head chihuahua dog the entire flight. The food was good, I watched a lot of movies/tv shows, and slept maybe an hour or two. The food was actually VERY good and made me very happy as I scarcely broke into my rather large stash of snacks for the plane. 🙂 Go Delta!
I had an hour and fifteen minute layover in ATL, so I rushed through customs, begged my way into the nice/first class/short security line, and was literally running through the terminal, to find my flight was delay 15 mins, then 15 mins, then some more. We left over an hour later, so they issued us all meal vouchers. Again, go Delta! The airport emergency security system alarms went off TWICE while i was in ATL airport, but we never ended up having to do anything. I talked with more Americans for awhile then dozed on the 2 hour flight, which was again a little rough, but better than the international one.
I surprised my parents in the airport with my VERY African garb and jewelry, and we stopped at Ma and Pa’s Kettle in Cameron, MO on the way home from the aiport, where EVERYONE stared at me. So much for being anonymous. Maybe bringing only my very bright African skirts wasn’t the best idea. I highly recommend the restaurant though, we I had real Pepsi, chicken strips, and ranch for the first time in a year. We also stopped at Kum and Go where I got my first Cherry Pepsi in a year.
I’ve noticed a few problems….I keep wanting to yell at Mom or Dad to get on the “right” side of the road, so I will seriously not be driving while I’m here. I freaked out a bit at the restaurant, which was very crowded, noisy, and the tables were smooshed together. Not in a bad way, but a little hard for an American-turned-rural-PCV on my first restaurant encounter in America. I again freaked out a little at Kum and Go when I saw allllll the varieties and flashy packages, etc. I ended up staring at the ground, dashing to find my Cherry Pepsi, then finding Mom to get the heck out of there. We’ll see how Walmart and a mall goes over the next week. It is all very overwhelming right now though.
Mom and Dad have done a lot of major work on the house, including redecorating a few rooms, buying all new appliances and furniture, and reflooring/painting the stamping room, so the house was strange. The bought a new fridge, which has an icemaker, and as I was sitting in the dining room eating Happy Joe’s Taco Pizza, I hearing a whizzing mecharical noise from the kitchen. I look up at home with bugged eyes and said “There’s as Robot in the Kitchen”.
Needless to say, my parents are finding me to be an odd new thing and I think I’m entertaining them. I know I was entertained when we turned off at the wrong place in Cameron and the GPS got mad. Dad was very worried and chattering up a storm about how we would never find this place. I just said “Chill. There was a big sign on the highway, it’ll be on the main drag, just chill and we’ll find it or eat something else.” Africa has definitely changed me.