Friday, May 26, 2017

USA to South Africa: February 16-17

After saying emotional goodbyes, to my girlfriend, family, and friends, I was on my way to South Africa. After checking in my two suitcases (one big and one small), I took my book bag and my trombone and made my way to the TSA. While walking through the Myrtle Beach airport TSA, I thought to myself, "it's time and it's real!" I was starting my mission trip after a long wait for my visa approval. My flights were from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to Atlanta, Georgia, Atlanta to Johannesburg, South Africa, then finally, Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth where I would spend the night and get picked up in the morning and be taken to the monastery. Looking back on my flights, they went well. The most exciting flights were from Atlanta to Johannesburg and Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth. Atlanta to Johannesburg was exciting because it was my FIRST international flight. It was also my longest flight. A 14.5 hour flight! I remember getting to my seat and seeing the touch screens on the back of the seat's headrests with various entertainment options. It had in flight movies, music, games, and etc. I thought to myself, "this is going be AWESOME!", and it was awesome... for a few hours. The flight got long 3 hours in haha. I tried to past the time by watching movies and sleeping. I watched the Queen of Katwe which was about a rags to riches story of a Ugandan girl who, through chess, becomes a world renowned champion. After watching Queen of Katwe, enjoying some very delicious food and sleeping, we finally arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa! I was super excited when we arrived! I remember looking outside to see what Africa looked like before we even landed! I wasn't able to get a good view of what Africa looked like until I was in my hotel room the next day. The first thing I did upon arriving was ask where to go. I found out I needed to go to the Visa stamping check point (sorry I don't know the official name for the check point haha). After I made it through the visa check point, I went through TSA. Because I forgot to take my external hard drive out of my book bag, they had to run my book bag through the detector again with my external hard drive in a separate bin. After that delay, I got my luggage and went as fast I could to the baggage check in. When I arrived at the desk, there was a short line but every minute was precious  as my flight time was drawing near. I finally was seen by the attendant at the desk. I gave them my passport and information they need for me to check in my bags. After a few minutes of checking my information, I was told that the flight was overbooked and (even though they had my seat number and everything) they would  see if they could put on this flight. If not, they would put me on another flight the next day and book a hotel room for me for the night. At this point I was starting to freak out internally because I already had a hotel booked and plans to be picked up the next day, so I had no idea how this would affect these plans. Also, I had a dying cell phone and no cell phone charger (I accidentally left my phone charger on the plane that  brought us to Johannesburg) so it would be hard for me to contact anyone if I was alone. After working on my situation for about 15 minutes, the attendant told me I was able to be on my original flight! I had to quickly check in my bags, go through TSA and go up to my gate. I had to hurry because the flight would be leaving soon. I made it through TSA in time thanks to an airport staff member who took me quickly to TSA and assured me I would make to my flight. After taking me to the TSA gate, he asked me for a tip, which sadly I had to decline because I didn't have any small change. Next I zoomed through TSA,  thankful the lines weren't long. I don't think I ever took off my shoes or taken things out of my pocket so fast before. I quickly gather my belongings and headed to my gate. I was so relieved when I got to my gate. While waiting for my flight to Port Elizabeth, I messaged family and friends that I had arrived safely in South Africa! I remember soaking in the feeling of being on the continent of my ancestors! After about 30 minutes of waiting at the gate, it was time to start boarding. Time to go Port Elizabeth! The plane to Port Elizabeth was interesting.  To me, it seemed like all the passengers spoke a different language then their neighbor. I felt like the gentleman next to me spoke Afrikaans, which he spoke to a friend he saw coming on the plane. We took off for Port Elizabeth about 15 minutes after boarding and the plane ride was quick. We landed around 9:30 pm, and I was ready to rest in a bed instead of in an airplane seat haha. I got off the plane and got my things and headed to the hotel which was right across the street. I had trouble finding the door to get through the gate, but I finally found my way into the hotel thanks to two ladies walking by. I checked in and made my way to my room. My room was very nice, though I did have to get use to the circular shaped power outlet holes and the firm mattress Haha. After settling in my room, I went to the front desk to ask for the food that was saved for me. It was big meal! I had a Cheeseburger, fries (or chips as they are called here), toast, and 3 sausage links, and a salad to eat. To drink, I had a cup of hot cocoa. It was good guys! I finished and went back to my room. When I got back in my room, I let everyone know I made it to the hotel safely with the little battery power left on my phone. Because my phone was dying and I didn't have a charger, I tried to charge my computer using the voltage converter my Mom gave me. When tried to use it, I found that I didn't have the right input piece so, I used the closest fitting piece. I plugged in the input piece, the voltage converter, my surge protector and last my laptop charger into the wall. It worked well for a little while but then I noticed something that smelled like a burning battery. It was my voltage converter, it was overheating and was starting to emit a faint smoke. I felt the reason why it started smoking and overheating was because the input piece only fit into two of the outlet holes instead of all three. I quickly and safely unplugged everything and opened my room door to ventilate my room. After letting my room air out and the letting the voltage converter sit, I took the voltage converter to the front desk and asked the clerk to dispose of it. The input piece was fine though. I also asked the clerk for a proper converter to barrow until morning. Thankfully they had several and after receiving the volt converter, I went back to my room, charged my computer, took a shower and went to bed.