Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Part Three: Up in the Air

It takes a long time to fly from Phoenix, Arizona, USA to Windhoek, NAMIBIA. I think it's somewhere around twenty-three hours in the air. I spent a ton of time in an airplane on the first few days of my trip.

I called my parents in my last few minutes at the airport. My mom's family was in Hawaii for our yearly family reunion, so they all yelled an enormous ALOHA!!! at me. I also got the good news that my cousin Maddie had gotten engaged while they were there. It was great to hear, but my heart was a little sore hearing that my family was on vacation without me, getting engaged without me, and mostly that I would be without them for the next month.

I've been on airplanes before, but the majority of them have either been flights between NorCal and SoCal, or California and Arizona. I was amazed at how huge the plane was.

Here's something silly:
I love airplane food.
I love the way it looks. I love how neat it is. I love that the flight attendants ask you whether you'd like chicken or beef. I love drinking tea, because it makes me feel classy. I love airplanes. I think they're exciting.

I watched "Pan's Labyrinth", "The Holiday" (for the third time) and listened to hours and hours of Simon and Garfunkel. I should have tried to sleep, but I was still too excited, knowing that I would be in AFRICA in less than a day.

*Side note*: At this point in time, Africa was still AFRICA!!! in my mind. New. Unknown. Exciting. All capitals and three exclamation points. AFRICA!!! [It's not that Africa is any less exciting to me now that I've been there...it's just that now I have a deep, real love for the continent, whereas before, all I had were eager expectations.]

We landed in London around 11 a.m., and our flight was scheduled to leave Heathrow around 9 p.m. Our trip leaders handed us passes to the Underground and let us loose on London. At this point, none of us had slept much, and we were carrying all of our carryon baggage. For me, this meant that I had to carry my pillow around London. Also, I was wearing a tie-dyed shirt, while Cierra, one of my teammates, was wearing a shirt with Cheeseasauras Rex on it. Needless to say, we weren't exactly incognito, and I'm sure that people could easily mark us as American tourists.

Cierra and I walked around London for about two hours. We ate at Quizno's, tried to use the internet at McDonald's, and saw the sights. Here's a quick rundown:
- Big Ben was much sparklier than I ever imagined.
- The London Eye was very big.
- We talked to the bobbies, and they pointed us in the direction of Tony Blair's house. The day we were in London was also the day that Tony Blair resigned, so that was interesting, and somewhat exciting to be there.
But mostly, we just walked around in the rain and laughed at the absurdity of US being in LONDON and going on to AFRICA!!!

The team got back to the airport and hopped on the plane which would take us from London, England to Johannesburg, South Africa. I ended up sitting between Cierra and a young man named Conrad, who was travelling from Switzerland to South Africa. He was 17, and we talked about skateboarding, skate shoes, South Africa. By this leg of the trip, my team had discovered Tylenol P.M., so we spent most of the flight getting some much needed sleep.

Our flight had been a few hours late getting into Jo-burg, so my team was running through the airport, trying to make it to the correct terminal. However, for some reason, Merrilee, Jameson, Lacey, and myself got bumped to a later flight. The best part about this was that we got free meal vouchers, so we bought chocolates and sodas and sandwiches and spent some time in the Jo-burg airport getting to know each other better. We ended up on the same flight as the Namibian rugby team, who sat by Merrilee and invited our team to see a match (which sadly, didn't happen, because we didn't have time).

Finally, almost four days after I'd left Phoenix, I was in Namibia.