The moment I glanced out the window and realized we were entering the Africa coast, the only thing I could think was, "This is Africa! This is Africa!"
And I knew I was home.
The 15 hour flight was certainly long, but well worth it.
The night - well, America's night - passed fairly quickly, and just for the fun of it I decided to watch a move between 12 and 2am. I was awake, so why not?
The passengers on the plane were asked to close the windows so that the 3am sunrise wouldn't wake the lucky few who were actually able to sleep. When the windows were reopened later, the sun was so bright as it reflected off the clouds and the sides of the plane that anyone who opened the window quickly shut it again and prayed that they were not blinded permanently.
Finally, by 10am American time, I decided to bite the bullet, ignore the shut-that-window-now stares, and lift the shade.
Boy was I glad I did! We had just flown over the coast of Africa - one of the most surreal moments of my life. I pressed by face against the windows edge and peered down into the land as we passed over it. This is Africa....
Behind me, I heard a couple discussing the view that, by now, most people were enjoying.
"There's nothing," the man said. "See? A single road just there, and then nothing more for miles around." The wife murmured something in agreement as the husband repeated himself, saying the same thing 10 more times with different words.
Pointing to the map on the TV screen in front of me, my new South African friend and seat neighbor explained more about the land we were traveling over.
As I had overheard, few would describe the land as being pretty. In fact, it was called the "skeleton coast" - empty of all life, and known as the graveyard for shipwrecked sailors.
Yet it was Africa, and it was absolutely beautiful.
At about 10am, the flight attendance brought around kale salads, coffee, and calzones for one of the oddest breakfasts I have experienced.
see what I mean, lol!
In a few hours later, we landed.
It took me a full hour to get through customs - and that was mostly made of up of trying to find my 3 bags in the South African baggage claim system.
Yet, finally, I got through and hauled my 150lbs of suitcases into the reception area to find Mimi.
I also met Mynette, one of Mimi's friends.
I soon learned that Mynette was one of the liveliest and most full-of-life people that I have ever met. She has quite a sense of humor and almost immediately promised that she would work hard to make sure I was I converted completely to South African ways before I left. I accepted the promise happily.
The drive home was as lively as I had found Mynette to be. Between Mimi, her, and me, the conversation flew around from this to that and back again.
Finally, I was home, and yes, I have a sneaking suspicion that this really is home.
Yesterday and today have been busy and full of meeting people and places, and seeing more and more of this beautiful country.
Its has stolen my heart, and though it may or may not be home forever, it certainly is right now.
More to come.