So I flew from Sydney, Australia to Johannesburg, South Africa on August 3rd. My flight landed an hour early, so there was no one there to greet me when I arrived, so I just hung out in the arrivals area, using the free wifi and waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Harry, the Awesome Work & Travel Hostel Manager/Driver/Cook/Everything, arrived an hour after my plane was supposed to arrive, so I ended up waiting like 2 hours. All I wanted to do was get to the hostel and sleep, cause I hadn’t slept on the plane (no one was next to me, but I was sick and uncomfortable and even with two seats still couldn’t sleep) and I was feeling awful. But then he informed me that we had to wait some more, because there were 3 other people to pick up, arriving on two separate flights. So an hour later, two Kiwis arrived, Elinor and Jesse, so we went to have breakfast while we waited for the last person. Eventually, the last girl arrived, Klara from Germany, and we were finally off!
15 more people showed up throughout the day, for a total of 19, all going to various projects. Almost all of them were from Europe (Germany, Norway, France, Italy, Holland, Belgium, England, Switzerland, Denmark). The other 3 were from New Zealand, and I was the only one from North America (actually make that Central and South Americas too, so basically the only person from the entire continent). Only two others were going to be going to the orphanage with me, Antoine from France and Roberta from Italy.
We spent the next few days exploring Johannesburg. Wednesday, we had an orientation in the morning, then went to tour around Soweto, an area of Jo’Burg and where the orphanage is located. We actually got to have a sneak peek at the orphanage when we stopped to drop off some donations, so that was pretty cool. We checked out the Orlando Towers (decommissioned coal-fired power station That is now an entertainment centre) and took the outside elevator up to the top of the towers for a great view of Jo’Burg. We also checked out the Hector Pieterson Memorial (Hector Pieterson was a 12 year old boy that was shot during a peaceful protest in 1976) and drove by Nelson Mandela’s and Desmond Tutu’s houses (they lived within a block of each other). Afterwards, at the hostel, we got to play some African drums, which was really fun!
The next day we drove to Pretoria, a city about an hour from Jo’Burg and the executive capital of South Africa (South Africa has three capital cities). It’s also the city where Oscar Pistorius was living when he shot his girlfriend. We visited the Pretoria Forts, the Voortrekker Monument and the Union Buildings (where the president’s office is located). It was a good day trip. Then it was back to the hostel for our last meal together before all going to our separate projects. We ended up going to a bar after dinner for drinks, which was really fun, especially when Antoine accidentally ended up ordering this flaming drink, which was actually four shots in one. It was NOT fun when the bill arrived and it was R1000 more than it should have been (about $100 CAD) because we were tourists. So we argued with the waitress and got the bill corrected, more or less, and overall it was a good night.
And on Friday, we said goodbye and all went our separate ways, which was sad because we’d had a great time together. But it was time for our new adventure to begin, volunteering!!!
If you’re interested in seeing more travel pictures, follow my instagram account at: packursuitcase