It finally set in that I’m going to spend a substantial amount of time in a totally different part of Africa and I’m freakin’ excited! Not knowing what lies ahead is the best part. I can only imagine.
Before I land in Nairobi, Kenya, I have to connect flights from Cape Town to Johannesburg first. The flight from Cape Town to Jo’burg went smooth, but that stopped there. The Jo’burg airport was utter chaos!
I landed on time there, but apparently my flight was about to leave very soon even though my initial itinerary read otherwise. I had to haul tail to my gate! The only problem was…I had no idea where to go! The Johannesburg airport is huge and the layout of it is very confusing. Especially being my first time here. I ran around like an idiot looking for one of those self-check in machines to print out my boarding pass. I found one and as I was in the process of checking in, a lady from the desk asked me where I was going.
“Nairobi” I responded.
“You have to go to the Kenya Airline gate but you must hurry because they are closing the gate soon. Why are you late?”
“I’m not late, you guys are early!”
She pointed me to go to the security check instead and they can help me.
Ok. So I ran there and the security guard wouldn’t let me pass because I didn’t have a boarding pass.
“You must go to the Kenya Airline gate.”
I asked him where it was and he had no clue. He went to find someone but I didn’t have time to wait, I had to just run with my gut. As I was, a porter stopped me and asked if I needed help. I explained my predicament and he ran with me to get a boarding pass.
“Why are you coming so late?” he asked as we sprinted to a desk.
“I arrived on time, you guys changed the times on me.” I said laughing because my shoe laces we untied slapping against my shoes, my iPod headphone cord was dangling out of my pocket dragging across the floor, and I had a travel pillow wrapped around my neck. I never looked more ridiculous.
The lady at the desk kept asking me about my luggage. The luggage I kept telling her was already checked-in at Cape Town and is heading straight to Nairobi. Please Lord, let my luggage be there when I’m there. She finally gave me a boarding pass and I looked at the time on it. It read that my plane will depart at 12:30. I looked at my watch. It’s 12:20. There’s no way I will make it. But the porter insisted that I was ok and he guided me back to the security gate. But first…
As we ran to security, he asked me if I had any Rand on me.
“Uh, no I don’t think so.”
“Okay, you must pay for the service.”
“The airport service.”
“Airport service? What is that? How much is it?”
“Are you a student? If you are you get a student discount.”
I had no idea what kind of service he was talking about but I found that he guided me to an ATM machine and not the security gate. He told me to stand in line.
“Why did you take me here?”
“You must get money to pay.”
I already knew in my head I wasn’t going to pay a thing to anyone but I asked him how much do I need to take out, just to see what he said.
“For the tip” he said.
You have got to be kidding me. You’re wasting my time because you want a tip? I’ve never been asked to give a tip to the person who wants it. I got out of the line and asked him how do people generally tip for this “service”.
” A couple hundred Rand.”
I thought about it. I’m not sure if it’s customary here to tip for these sort of things. I could be in the wrong. I doubt it because he told me I would get a student discount haha! How does one get a student discount when giving out a tip? I opened my wallet to see how much rand I had left and I saw him glaring into my wallet. He saw all the U.S. bills I had in addition to an R20 I had left. My mistake for opening my wallet in front of him like that. I told him all I would give him was R20.
“American money is better” he said. “People usually tip me $50 to $100 American”
This guy was out of his mind. I took out the 20 rand and gave him that along with one U.S dollar and told him “thanks” and ran towards security gate. What I gave him is equal to about $3.50 in U.S currency. He didn’t look too pleased.
I doubted that I was going to make my flight. In my head I knew I was going to have to take the next available one. So at this point, I stopped running. I went through security and literally walked through an entire mall to get to the gate on my ticket, Gate A18. I looked up at the departure board and there was no sign of my flight. I saw another flight for Nairobi at 1:30; my original flight that was on my itinerary. I walked to my gate and the attendant there said I have an hour to spare and my flight was never changed.
Get me out of this airport.
After about three and a half hours, I finally landed in Nairobi, Kenya. A driver from the Khwezi Bed and Breakfast picked me up and took me to my stay for the night.
There I met Damaris. Damaris is a fellow volunteer that I connected with over Facebook. We saw that we were going to Tanzania at the same time so we decided to book the same hostel for piece of mind. It’s great to travel with a friend. She is a very sweet girl from Sydney, Australia. She reserved us seats on the shuttle that we would take the next morning to Arusha, Tanzania. It’s about a five-hour drive. I was ready for the trip! In due time, I will be in Tanzania, in a brand new volunteer house, with brand new volunteers.