The Urban Wanderer

Crossing Borders ~ Bridging Cultures ~ Traveling Responsibly

The Long Journey to South Africa


Originally written on February 24, 2020

Hi there everyone!

It was a long-assed journey but we have arrived in one piece to Port Elizabeth, South Africa. There was a point during our travels where we questioned whether or not we’d make it in one piece, but thankfully here we are. Our questionable flight was from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth. It was with a carrier called Safair. The plane itself looked just fine and we were relieved that it was a legitimate airline. That was until our landing however…we were descending as normal with the views of the ocean below us. It looked so beautiful but all of a sudden the nose of the plane started to head upward and we were climbing up once again. The pilot came on the intercom to tell us that they were having issues with the landing gear so they had to circle for a bit while they fixed it. Not sure how they planned to fix the landing gear while we were still in the air ??? I almost expected a little man to crawl out on the wing with his pliers!  Eventually after a bit of time we headed towards the ground and held our breaths while the plane hit the tarmac. It wasn’t a typical landing as it felt like our breaks were having an issue and it took forever for the plane to eventually stop. When we did, we were literally at the end of the runway. Next we saw emergency vehicles with their lights blinking driving next to the plane as we taxied towards the airport. The pilot came on the intercom once again to apologize for scaring us and he ended by saying I hope this won’t change your minds in using Safair again in the future. WTF! You know it must have been bad when they end with that!!!


With our feet safely on the ground we were picked up by a staff member from Khaya – the volunteer organization that we are affiliated through. She showed us around the area that we are living in. It is just minutes from the ocean and in a really beautiful location. The only thing I’m a little hesitant with is that we have been warned over and over about our safety. We are told that there are safety in numbers and never to walk home after dark. I think a lot of it is common sense but two volunteers were assaulted walking home from a bar just a few weeks ago. There’s even a panic button in the house that will contact the neighborhood patrollers if needed. It’s just so different from the safety we take for granted at home.

The volunteer house has over 20 volunteers living in it. There are several projects in which everyone goes to during the day – from feeding street people, to rehabilitating penguins to medical work. The one thing that all the volunteers have in common but differ from Kris and I are their ages. The average age is about 20. As well , most are from Holland and Germany, so making conversation can be a bit more difficult. It’s only the first full day here though so I’m sure it will get better and we will soon feel like we are a part of the house. Having to hold 20+ volunteers, the house is pretty big. The front balcony looks on to the ocean and in the backyard is a pool. There are two house dogs that live here so that makes my heart happy too. Kris and I lucked out as they put us in a room with one sweet girl and we get sleep on normal twin beds. The three of us share one bathroom. This is pretty awesome as the others are on bunks and share 6-12 to a washroom.


I had a bit of a scare yesterday when I  went to use one of the toilets. When I opened the lid there were worms wriggling around at the bottom of the water. These weren’t your typical insects. They were white and skinny and looked more like a tapeworm or parasite. I should have taken a photo but I flushed them before thinking about that. I told the owners of the house about my discovery and they quickly knew what they were. Apparently the volunteers who work with penguins have the possibility of catching these worms. Last week they were given deworming pills and clearly they had come out of a human. The horrifying thing is that the worms clearly swam back up into the toilet bowl. Gag!  Anyway, on that note I’ll leave it there.

Tomorrow we start our first full day at Missionvale so I can’t wait to see how that will be.


2 responses to “The Long Journey to South Africa”

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