California Dreamin…

Well this trip to California started out eventful and really hasn’t stopped being interesting. We flew out of Casper and already knew that we had a short connection in Denver to get to Palm Springs. The lady at the airport in Casper assured us that we would be landing upstairs and so it wouldn’t be too tough to make our connecting flight. Ha. She was wrong. Not only were we downstairs at Denver Airport, but our plane was at least 15 minutes late leaving Casper so we started out cutting it close. We got to Denver and HUSTLED to our gate and got there and “final boarding” was across the screen. We were one of the last few on the plane, but we made it. I sat down in my seat, a middle seat, between two men. We were sitting there, getting ready to take off, and the man on my left side had his phone out and was texting someone. I know I was not meant to see it, but I did. He texted someone and said “fat chick next to me.” Why… why do people have to be so mean? He doesn’t know anything about me. He also said that the stewardess was huge too. He doesn’t know anything about her. Ugh. It just made me feel so sad. He even said “she seems proud.” What does that even mean? Does it mean that I have on nice clothes, do my hair and makeup?  Are all “fat people” supposed to be wearing slobby clothes, with holes in them, and food stains on them? I know I am overweight. I have gone to the doctor so I can start feeling better in order to do something about it. He doesn’t know I felt so exhausted at night, that the thought of even typing out my casenotes filled me with dread. But none of that matters; he just wanted to be a judgmental asshole.  That frustrated me and pissed me off for the whole flight. So I put in my earbuds and listened to a podcast the whole flight, with my arms crossed, so I didn’t touch him with my dreaded fat.

Anyway… we started our descent into Palm Springs and IT WAS SCARY. It was probably the scariest descent I’ve ever had. The plane was bouncing all over, we were up and down, side to side, bumping and swaying. Many people were gasping and you could hear the fear as people talked. Asshole to the left was calm. Macho man next to me was scared… like me. You could see him looking out the window, grabbing the seat in front of him, and looking around. I was gripping the seat in front of me and holding my breath.  Luckily Rose was sitting behind me and she was seated next to some amazing people. Listening to them talk and laugh was soothing. We were getting close to landing and all of a sudden the plane picked up speed and started going up again. Asshole next to me says this is fairly common landing in Palm Springs and we will probably circle around and try to land again. The copilot came on the speaker and said they were going to weigh their options and try to come up with a plan. A few minutes later, they said that they were going to land in Ontario, which we learned was 71 miles north of Palm Springs. Asshole thought it was weird. He said he has never experienced having to land at another airport. Turns out, we were low on fuel, so we needed to land to refuel. The copilot came on and said that once we landed we could have some options, such as trying to fly in again, being bussed to Palm Springs, or something else. When we landed, we didn’t have the option of a bus, however, we were told that we could get off the plane but we could be on our own as far as getting back to Palm Springs and getting our luggage. We opted to stay on the plane. A little over an hour later, we took off and were headed back. The landing this time wasn’t any less scary, but we were able to land. As soon as the plane touched down, the plane erupted in applause. We made it and we were so happy. Now I am a little nervous to leave in a couple of weeks, but that is later…

The Palm Springs/Palm Desert area is gorgeous. There are amazing homes, beautiful buildings, and gorgeous palm trees. We have eaten at some lovely places and drove around and seen beautiful things. We are staying at a Holiday Inn express and it is pretty nice. However, we have a creeper here. On Saturday, Rose and I went to the pool to sun and swim. A gentleman came into the pool area and started talking to us as we were in the pool. Nothing too crazy, just why we were here, etc.  However, Rose went back to the room to use the bathroom and I kept laying in the sun. As this guy was about to leave, he stopped in front of my lounge chair and said “I am in room 149 if you guys want to stop by.” I just said ok… it was kind of weird. Rose and I had a laugh about it later. This morning we were downstairs eating breakfast and we saw 149 again. He stopped in front of our table and said “I’m still in 149.”  We both just said ok and left it at that. Rose had to go get things set up for class, so I stayed back at the hotel and decided to lay in the sun and pool again. I was alone in the pool area when out of the corner of my eye, I saw a bald head look into the pool area. He turned around and I just had a feeling he was going to come back in his swim trunks. Sure as shit, there he was. And he sat in the lounger next to me. I didn’t say anything for a while and when I got too hot, I went for a swim in the pool. I stood and took off my shorts and as I turned to face him, I saw his eyes quickly close. I got out of the pool and laid back down and we said hello. He asked where my friend was and I told him she was at a meeting. Then he said “I thought I made you guys leave the hotel, I saw you with your bags this morning. [we had to move rooms today.] Eventually he went into the pool. I used that as my opportunity to get out of the pool and go to my room without being followed. I don’t know if he would’ve followed me but I felt uncomfortable.

So that is that! Class starts tomorrow and I am really excited to go learn, meet new people, and see a friend I met in South Africa. More to come soon!

California Dreamin…

Africa part 1…

My Africa trip was incredible. I don’t know if incredible is the right word, but that is all I can come up with right now. It never really seemed real and was very real at the same time. Several times, I said to Rose, “I can’t believe we are actually here.” Never would I have imagined going. It is something I always wanted to do, but never thought would actually happen.

The flights were long. Uncomfortable. But completely worth it. The flight from Casper to Denver was very quick and uneventful. Denver to Washington DC was longer, but I watched Titanic. Then onto Africa. We made a stop in Accra, Ghana. That was a little over a 10 hour flight. We couldn’t get off the plane in Ghana but were able to stand up and stretch a little. My feet and ankles were getting swollen. I was trying to walk and stretch as much as I could. I was very thankful for an aisle seat for that reason. I was able to get up and go to the bathroom or walk and stretch whenever I wanted, without bothering the person sitting next to me. Rose, on the other hand, was not as fortunate. She was seated next to the window, next to a person who did not stand up. At all. Both long flights. I felt so bad for her! We made it to Johannesburg in one piece and that is all that matters! We were greeted at the airport in Joburg by Celia and Pieter. Lovely people. So grateful I got to meet them and spend a week exploring with them and learning from them. We waited around for Malcolm to come pick us up. He was the driver Rose hired for us to take us from the airport to the Amakoekoe – the beautiful place we were staying at before going up to Kruger. Malcolm had brought a trainee driver with him – Silas. While driving from the airport, Rose was asking a lot of questions. It turns out that Silas and Malcolm were raised as brothers. Malcolm’s family adopted Silas when his mother died. We got to the Amakoekoe and it was beautiful. The room was nice and the grounds were beautiful. So many beautiful and fragrant flowers! I couldn’t breathe in enough of the smells. We kept the terrace door to our room open whenever we were in our room and even when we were sleeping. The breeze would blow and the jasmine would come into our room. I wished I could bottle up the smells to bring them home with me. Our first full day of being in Johannesburg, we slept. We slept so late that housekeeping came a couple times trying to clean our room. We walked around the grounds so that our room could be cleaned. Then we rested some more. Rose ended up texting Malcolm to see if he could pick us up and take us to dinner. He said he couldn’t but Silas could. We asked Silas to join us for dinner and he accepted. He took us to a western themed restaurant. The food was good and the company was great. We talked Silas’ ear off and he was a trooper! We made plans for him to pick us up the next morning to do some sightseeing around Johannesburg. He took us to the Apartheid Museum. We spent about an hour and half there. When we bought our tickets, we were issued a “white” ticket or a “non white” ticket and that determined which entrance you used. It was definitely a weird feeling. After the museum, Silas took us to Soweto and Vilakazi street. The street where Nelson Mandela lived. There were street vendors up and down the whole street, along with people asking and wanting money from us. I was very thankful we had Silas with us. Ann, who was with us, got caught up in it and probably would’ve given away all of her money if Silas wasn’t there to tell people to go away. We also got to meet Silas and Malcolm’s dad, who is a Baptist pastor in Johannesburg. He is involved in several ministries, including feeding children at the Joe Slovo camp. It is basically a squatter camp, but the people aren’t called squatters. They are called informal settlers. We got to help them feed the children. The bus that had the food in it drove up and the children came running and lined up, single file, waiting for the food. It was incredible to see. As I passed out the hot dogs, nearly every child said thank you and looked so happy. We got to walk around the camp with two ladies, one works with Pastor Willie and the other lives there. We distributed newspapers that the church puts out. It was interesting listening to them and seeing the different people. It is definitely something I will never forget. Saturday was another rest day. Sunday we went to Ceila and Pieter’s house for tea and meeting our fellow congress goers! Then it was to bed early. We were being picked up at 4am to leave for Kruger! Rose and I could not sleep a wink that night. Maybe it was because of excitement, who knows? But that made for a very long and tiring trip up to Kruger. More to come…

Africa part 1…