The First 48 in South Africa
Traveling to Port Elizabeth, South Africa, is exhausting, the flights are long and the possibility of connecting flights is infinite. I was fortunate enough to only have one connection and overall only took about 24 hours of traveling with a 7 hour time difference. At the airport, we were picked up by the University and taken to our new homes; mine happens to be the Summerstrand Inn which is as beach front as it gets!
As tired as we all were, we needed to explore right away! We all showered, powered up our cameras and walked toward town. The first days are so important, everything is new, new smells, new sights and many new feelings and it is amazing. We walked into town where there was a shopping center and all went into each shop to ask questions and see how South Africans buy groceries, phones, office supplies and clothes. The shopping center was small compared to my New Jersey mega malls but they were charming and a whole lot less busy!
Then myself and the 6 other girls I was with decided to go out to eat at Charlie’s Pizza and Pasta. How ironic, I travel to South Africa and I eat pizza… Overall it was very good, not New York pizza, that’s for sure, but it still was delicious. This is when we all realized that going out to eat is extremely affordable and cheaper than buying your own food and cooking! This was one of the first times that the American in me was very confused, between the money conversion difference and the idea that eating out with tip and drinks is still less expensive than buying food and cooking took me a few minutes to wrap my head around. My meal that was a mushroom and chicken pizza with bottled water and tip translated to $5 American dollars. I was flabbergasted but extremely excited because this means that I can affordably eat out and experience all of the restaurants and not go broke! After we ate we headed back to our new home to settle in and laid by the pool and chatted with 3 American girls, somehow all from Wisconsin, and 3 German girls varying in age but all with a common interest in adventure, culture and experiencing South Africa together. We made a plan for the next day and headed to bed.
The next day our plan was to meet at 9am for a short walk on the beach, this turned into an entire day of walking around, talking to local vendors, buying some postcards and of course going out to lunch. We made our way to something called “The Boardwalk” which again was very ironic considering New Jersey also has many of those. This boardwalk was quite different further from the beach and more of what I would consider an outdoor shopping plaza; none the less, it was very fun.
We headed back home to again relax in the pool and talk to some more of the people that we will be living with for the next 5 months. We ate dinner at our hotel which was again surprisingly affordable and again delicious. We than helped each other pack for the weekend because we are heading to Tsitskamma Falls the next morning for a three day excursion including zip lining, hiking and swimming. The first 48 hours were amazing, eye opening and I was finally able to settle in and start making this very far away place my home, not to mention meet some amazing people and start to build relationships that I can already tell will last a lifetime!
Taylor Farro is the Spring 2016 CEA MOJO in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. She is currently a junior at Stockton University in New Jersey.