People on our long ride across

It is difficult to write enough. One blogger I read said that, “You want to write about your experiences, but you have to give up time which may eliminate some experiences.” So, I’m up before sunrise and writing. I think I’ll also have more time as classes start and my cohort is doing the studying bit of the study abroad process.

Our plane from Dulles to Joburg was filled with some interesting people. First, there were a lot of missionaries in our section. Some young people who were going to different parts of Africa for a year. The group next to me were all 18-20 and there were about 6 of them. One girl got airsick the first 5 min of the flight and didn’t get settled until after we left Senegal. I felt so bad for her but her travel companions were giving her morale support. I was impressed with their gumption to leave home and go abroad at their age. On either side of that group was another group of missionaries, men in their late 40’s and early 50’s, who have traveled to various parts of Africa, China, and South America on mission trips. They seemed very middle-aged with their super cheesy “dad jokes”.

There were quite a few study abroad students on the flight, most were connecting to Cape Town from Joburg. There was one student from Case Western who I kept thinking was in our group. She was very nice and took several of our group photos. When I commented to our group that there seemed like a lot of study abroad students on our flight, another passenger interjected that we should “have a party plane.” I think he was asleep before the wheels left the ground…not sure I want to go to any of his parties.

I met a lady who was from Cape Town but has lived all over the world with her husband. She was heading back home because her mother was dying. She was interesting to talk to. She met her American husband when he was on vacation in Cape Town and some friends brought him over. They fell in love that weekend and six months later they were married. Last year they celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary. When they met he was working at a university but then went back to school for his phd. After graduation he got a job with US Foreign Service where he worked for 21 years. They raised their two girls as they traveled and I was not surprised when she told me that one of them married a Marine. Her husband is still working but now he does inspections of embassies and diplomatic posts. She still travels with him but not as much as she used to. She was very sweet and a pleasure to talk with and learn from. She told me that under apartheid her family was considered colored and thus could not vote until 1994. She also said that the school system was better under the British, which I found to be an interesting statement. I wanted to ask her more questions along those lines but did not think it was polite. I hope she made it to Cape Town in time.

My seat companion was an interesting fella. He was from Virginia but his parents worked for USAID while he was growing up and so, he didn’t actually live in the states until he was 9. I started talking to him when I saw his TED Talks backpack and wanted to know if I was sitting next to someone who was “YouTube famous”. He told me that it was passed onto him from his mom, who was the one that gave the TED Talk. I haven’t looked it up yet but its on public health. After the girl across the isle threw up he asked me how I was with flying. He was an expert and was concerned that I’d be nervous the whole time or get sick. I reassured him that, while I may be a bit figity, the flying bit didn’t bother me. He was going to Cape Town because his girlfriend is in school at UCT and he was relocating to be with her. He was going to take a month vacation before job hunting. I’m guessing he already has some leads because he seemed rather well connected. He told me about helping a friend move in the US and to thank him for his kindness he is getting at-cost wine from their vineyard in South Africa. On second thought, I should have gotten his contact information!


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