Hello everyone! Bekah here, coming at you live from Observatory, South Africa! Observatory is a district located in the city of Cape Town and is home to our permanent lodging address named the Riverview Lodge.
Mr. Riverview boasts of having an excellent location, only a five minute walk to the quaint restaurants and cafes sprinkled within downtown Observatory, and literally next door neighbors to the train station that carries everyone to Cape Town in one direction and Simon’s Town (location of the famous penguins that visit the Cape!) in the other. Staying here in this fun, colorful house (that reminds me a bit of Mary Poppins’ coat bag; its contains many more rooms, bathrooms, and kitchens than the outside leads you to believe!) has been wonderful. The showers here seem to have a wicked sense of humor, spraying you with ice water only moments after you find that perfectly warm temperature to soak under. But I’m not here to talk about my battles with the plumbing.
I am IN South Africa! And it is amazing! You wouldn’t believe what I had to go through to get here. And I am about to tell you what that is so you can believe it!
Here we go!
Back in the States, nestled safely within the academic walls of Shoreline, both my Study Abroad Director and Professor urged each us to remain as flexible as possible. All sorts of wack things can happen when traveling. And even the finest planned plans of plans can come apart.
Alright. For sure. No biggie. I can totally handle this.
I had no idea that my time to shine would begin the moment the SASA (South Africa Study Abroad) crew and I landed in Dubai International Airport.
We kinda lost one of our men. We would later find out that he’d taken a seat further back in the plane and deboarded maybe 15 minutes after we did, but at the time, we weren’t privy to this. We waited as a group for a bit in front of the security gates. Yet, when this failed to call him forth from the abyss of other passengers, we decided to ask someone at the information desk to page for him. A small part of me wonders if hearing your name over Safeway’s intercom (at the request of your mother) is similar to being hailed through an international airport. I probably shouldn’t endeavor to find that out, though. Thankfully our guy appeared just in time to make the request unnecessary, and my professor began to breathe a little easier. As one, we approached the customs gate and successfully made it to the other side.
Only to discover that one of the women in our crew forgot her laptop on the plane.
What’s life without a little bit of the unexpected to spice it up, huh?
Don’t hold your breath for too long. Our girl got her laptop back, safe and sound. It’s actually one of the computers I’m using to blog to y’all, so I know that everything is working out the way it should.
Dubai’s airport though. Wow. Where do I begin? If I were to make a comparison of Seatac vs DIA, the first thing that comes to mind is the atmosphere. Unlike Seatac, where the noise is sometimes loud enough to annihilate the eardrums, there were no overhead announcements being projected in the main walkways. That’s right.
I felt very hushed walking along the polished floor. It may have been my imagination, but even the other passengers that walked off with us seemed incredibly subdued. Maybe its the fact that our group was the loudest one in there, garnering the stares of a number of DIA staff members, or maybe it was the fact that the only announcement you heard was the call to prayer. But, whatever it was, DIA was quiet. Exceedingly quiet. Which, when I think back on it, wasn’t entirely a bad thing. Sitting through a 14.5 hour flight, even with the adrenaline of excitement and expectation to take your mind off the time, has a way of frazzling the nerves. Watching Bed Knobs and Broomsticks helped (who knew that turning to Disney Classics could be so soothing) but finally being able to step onto solid ground was lovely. And the quiet air of DIA was a welcoming sight.
Arabic was everywhere; an aspect that I noticed with pleasant surprise.
Having never traveled outside of the US, and having only ever seen Arabic in my friend’s copy of the Quran, this was neat to see with my own eyes. I was briefed on my flight over (all of the audio and visual advertisements are first made in Arabic), but to see it on directional signage, name plaques, water bottle labels, and in many other places within an International Airport is fascinating. I’m sure I looked like a dazed chipmunk who’d just stepped into a hidden tree notch full of acorns, but, this is an once in a lifetime experience. I hope I’m entitled to such silly facial expressions.
In short, Dubai’s International Airport was quiet, which in turn quieted me. It was also extremely vast. The ceilings rose high above you, constituting of large, clear mirrors that reflected your very small person amongst many other small persons. All walkways were lined with pillars that my Professor said were akin to those that could be found in the local mosques. Palm trees that reminded me of California were clustered throughout the grounds in little bunches. And even the elevators used to get up to the main floor were made up of glass walls that allowed you to overlook this grand, beautiful indoor waterfall.
It was all incredibly surreal. I was here? Me? How did I come to be so blessed?
I don’t think I can answer those questions. But I know I can do one thing.
I can take each moment as it comes and step into each day with rich anticipation.
What will come next?
Stayed tuned for:
Dubai At Night and My First Week!