The road to the airport is always filled with mixed emotions. There is the notable exhilaration of the unknown for the traveller and feelings of sadness for the people staying behind. I was super stoked to be heading to California. I wondered how it was, the people the weather and of course the celebs that I would meet.
My journey began with some baggage drama that I could not check in two pieces of luggage as per my ticket. Between having to call the travel agency and trying to negotiate with the airline crew I realized that I was fighting a losing battle and time was not on my side so I caved. I bought a duffle bag repacked quickly and boarded the flight. I just needed to get to my destination. Note to self: Be polite to the service providers and you will find that they are much more helpful.
As I boarded the flight I said goodbye to all that I know and am familiar with to begin the journey into the unknown. I was anxious to leave however we were delayed about half an hour which meant that I will definitely be late for my connecting flight in Johannesburg The flight was pleasant sitting by the window looking over the bronze landscape of Namibia as the sun began to set.
Knowing I had only 45 minutes I knew I had to race across the airport. My first point at passport control had already passengers waiting to get through. I jumped the queue to the very front. Figured its better to ask for forgiveness than it is permission. After clearing security whilst getting coffee I heard the dreaded call “final boarding call for flight…” I looked at my boarding pass to verify and indeed it was my flight. My flight was at gate 14 I was close to gate 2. I started my sprint race across the airport with coffee in one hand, my duffel bag and my laptop bag hanging on for dear life. I almost tripped myself, bumped into someone, and almost ran passed my gate. My chest was burning as I narrowly escaped missing my flight.
As we prepared for our 11-hour journey to Frankfurt I was more than happy to have a window seat, which meant I could sleep leaning into the side. The cabin crew was very generous, kind and helpful. Halfway through the flight as I began to doze off a baby started shrieking relentlessly behind me. The mother was trying to comfort the little one to no avail. Anticipating that I may not get any sleep I resorted to catch up on some movies. I empathized with the mother trying to make appease the little one and with the disgruntled looks of the surrounding passengers.
Finally we landed in Frankfurt after reconvening with my travel mates we set out to get breakfast. Being at this airport for the first time we had no clue which way to go next. Note to self: “Don’t panic read and follow the signs”. We had to take a train to a different terminal where we were met with security.
Airport security seems to always make one feel guilty even though you have done nothing wrong. Had to take off shoes, belts and empty pockets and get a full body scan before we were than allowed to continue.
Beyond the security lies the wonder world of duty free shopping and free Wi-Fi. The airport is HUGE!!! I located my gate and then went exploring being offered all sorts of bargains from perfume, wine and other paraphernalia. By the time I left I smelled like a confused garden lol.
There are so many coffee shops with an assortment of eateries after careful consideration I settled for a big Mac at McDonalds. I know don’t judge me. It is funny how we always seek the familiar even in our desire for the unknown. After a lekker greasy brunch I felt human again.
Throughout the airport I saw pockets of young black travellers whom as I introduced myself to and found where doing the same fellowship as I was. It felt like all of Africa was descending upon Frankfurt that day. I was meeting so many young men and women from all over the continent, which was refreshing and a little overwhelming.
One of my fellow travel mates mentioned that it is only when she is at an airport that she realizes that there are so many people in the world. I was overcome with some existential questions of human existence, the value each life and the stories behind each face.
The four-hour lay over passed by fairly swiftly and I was ready to get on my final flight, which was almost 12 hours long. I prayed for a more relaxed flight and lo and behold the plane had some empty sits which meant I could sleep on three seats *happy dance*. Time traveling 8 hours backwards was surreal meaning I enjoyed a 32-hour day altogether.
I must mention that having travelled three continents in about 30 hours including lay overs the only thing on my mind was a shower and a bed. After a smooth security and passport check in the airport doors open reading “Welcome to San Francisco”
Wide eyed and butterflies in my stomach I braced myself for all that lies ahead the journey into the unknown. I recognize that the journey to get you to the destination is filled with all kinds of adventures, stimulating conversations and wild turns. There are occasional delays, babies and sometimes-unseemly security. However all these fade in the color of the new and unexplored. It is amazing how you can shut your eyes in one continent to wake up on the other side world.