And now I'm back in South Africa. As I was in the car on the way from the airport to Leigh's house, I was in disbelief that I was already back here. It's so cliché to say it but I can't believe how the last 3 months really flew by! After 2 1/2 weeks in Washington DC, witnessing the Inauguration and spending time with my friends and family that live there, I wasn't so sure I was ready to come back. I like life in the city, hopping on the metro to go places, going out at night, visiting the museums/memorials, just city life in general. I can't say that I was a huge fan of the cold but I could adjust to that again. Regardless of my unsettled feelings, I got on the plane, if for no other reason than to not waste the amazing bargain I got for the fare.
Immediately after getting off the plane, I was greeted by the typical TIA (this is africa) moment - a very long queue at the "All Other Passports" customs counter. Despite my best efforts, my carry on bags were still ridiculously heavy so slowly going through the line was not fun, especially after 30 hours of traveling and very little sleep. But with my new found sense of patience (thank you peace corps) I was ready to accept my fate and then was pleasantly surprised when the peeps in charge finally utilized the empty counters for the "African" and "South African" passport areas. The plus side of waiting in the line was that my bags were already on the carousel waiting for me at baggage claim.
Another TIA moment happened when I finally made it out of the baggage area and needed to find a pay phone to call Leigh, who was picking me up. The first person I asked to direct me to the pay phones actually directed me to the pay as you go phones at the end of the terminal so that didn't help. The next person directed me to the other end of the terminal to an Eskom store, that had phones but not for public use. The next person finally set me straight and directed me to the public phones. After all the running around (this time with a cart for my luggage so that was at least helpful) it all comes down to the right terminology, which I had forgotten. I made the call, although I needed to dial twice since the money went so quickly I didn't have enough time to put more in before it disconnected me. I had nothing to worry about though, Leigh was running late as usual, so I had plenty of time to wait, which is another thing you do a lot of in Africa.
After a 7 hour nap, a delicious dinner followed by Sue's famous homemade ice cream and another few hours of sleep, I was ready to make the long drive to my final destination, my new home in Ixopo with Jason. This morning I had a very non-TIA experience, the car rental agency was actually early to pick me up! This was great since I hadn't realized how long the drive was so the earlier start I could get, the better. When I got to the agency, as I was waiting for them to get my keys and contract in order, I noticed a man outside whistling while cutting the grass. This was the ultimate TIA moment - the man was on his hands and knees cutting the grass with a pair of garden clippers. Just earlier during the car ride I saw these men on the side of the road cutting the grass with an edger or a weed whacker and I thought to myself that was probably not the fastest or most efficient way of doing things - and now this! I felt bad for the guy but he didn't seem too bothered - was just whistling and doing his job.
Welcome back to South Africa! There are a lot of different things in this country that take some adjusting back to but there are also a lot of great things that I'm happy to be surrounded by again - like free baggage carts at the airport, really cheap and delicious produce, GORGEOUS scenery, easy to manage pay as you go phones, appletizers, a great selection of Lindt chocolate and Jason. Really, this girl will somehow manage a happy life here!