Arriving in Johannesburg

Before you get excited, dear reader, this covers my first 7 hours in Johannesburg and does not contain any description of the country beyond a few helpful people in the airport who work for Avis.

First Impressions:

People. Friendly but sometimes timid, generally smiling

Roads. Well kept, wide, people seem to obey the laws of the road. Then again, I wasn’t driving in rush hour.

Train system. Visible from the road on the route we took from the airport.

Weather. Cold and rainy but temperatures climbing to mid 70’s over the weekend and next week so it will get nice. I don’t objectively mind this weather, but it didn’t exactly make me feel emotionally or physically warmed.

Vegetation. Trees, scrappy brush, manicured landscaping

Skyline. Dense, tall buildings.

The Flight:

I conked out on the DC to JFK flight. The flight from JFK to Johannesburg was fine. I was in the aisle of the center four seats. The girl next to me was large, sour smelling, and a bit off. She seemed good hearted and as though she were on an adventure of some kind, so I practiced patience and smelled the inside of my wrist a lot. (Thanks, Sarah, for giving me that little bottle of perfume smelling of honey and lavender. Life. Saver.)

At Sarah’s suggestion I took a second valium. Good thing too because I watched the following movies and TV show before it kicked in:

  • The Five Year Engagement (I love you Jason Segel, and Emily Blunt, I will gladly join you and John Krasinski in your amazing marriage as a unflagging personal assistant).
  • The most recent Twilight Movie which was watched on fast forward, except for K.Stew walking down the aisle, because that dress is amazing.
  • Four Episodes of Modern Family.
  • The Avengers, at which point the meds kicked in once Iron Man started talking Loki’s ear off about the newly inspired Avengers headed his way. I kind of wish I’d seen the end of that. Commence napping for five hours off and on.

The Arrival in OR Tambo International Airport:

Customs was easy peasy. The airport is very nice. I was not nervous upon landing. Faced with some immediate logistics, I spent 25 minutes to exchange cash, 30 minutes to get a SIM card for my HTC phone which didn’t work. So basically Verizon’s instructions were useless and I can’t yet figure out how to/if I can use my phone after all. I instead bough a Nokia rinky dink phone. It’s fine.

My Avis pick up ride left because I took too long to emerge and some very nice Avis guys waiting to pick up other people let me use their phones to dial ECIAfrica to find out what was going on. It bears repeating that there was a particularly helpful guy who let me use his phone for a total of five minutes and came over twice to ask if I needed anymore help.  So, two hours after landing and the tasks described above, a new Avis guy picked me up and took me to the Villa Executive Apartments.

Arriving to accommodations:

It is raining and cold. I tried to stay awake and read the road numbers of the highway system. I made it the first 15 minutes during which my driver pointed out a Township and Gautrain. From there on out I was super hazy and kept nodding off. Literally, head falls forward and I jerk awake. I missed the tail end of the drive. My room wasn’t ready when I arrived so I waited 30 minutes in the very very very cold lobby. I had to pull out my winter coat! Good thing I didn’t get there right away after all. The Villa Via owner Fiona assured me that it was getting warmer, but I’d rock a sweater and maybe even boots given the temperature. Thankfully Montreal trained me for weather such as this.

Emotional State after entering apartment:

Exhausted. Lonely. Exacerbated by the weather and sleep haze. I had two thoughts. First, “Why did I agree to do this? I don’t want to live somewhere else. I love DC. Why was I so flippant about a year?? A year is a long time! What if I hate it?”   And then I thought of everything my family and friends have been telling me these last few days and I decided not to wallow and instead let the moments pass until better ones arrive. Because a year is a long time and a lot will change between now and my first week on the job, first month, first quarter.

So then I made the great debate: Sleep or settle? I asked myself, “What would Mom do?” and I decided that she would unpack. So that’s what I did. I pulled out and hung a lot of stuff and put some of the warmer weather items into a suitcase for storing. The apartment is really cold and the heater in the living room is taking its sweet time getting the rest of the place warm. I used the blue painter tape my sister said I should bring to put up some family photos next to my bed. I think this is going to be a good way to wake up and go to bed each day. Other awesome suggestions from Sarah: “There will be a blow dryer, only bring a flat iron cause that shit is expensive.”

So what comes next? Napping! And researching rental cars! And emailing colleagues! And napping! And dinner! And trying to figure out why my Cisco IP Phone installed on my computer wouldn’t work! And Dorothy Parker! And sleep! And Skype conversation with my Dad! And then actual sleep!