Our jouney begins

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I never imagined standing at the airport at 3 a.m. would have the potential to be so thrilling. I suppose I never saw myself standing at the airport, with seven other individuals, anxiously awaiting to board a plane to travel across the world. All of the group members were standing in line, bouncing from foot to foot, restless to get let into the gates and carry on towards our final destination- Africa. We held onto our passports with death grips, knocked on wood that our luggage wouldn’t get lost and played follow the leader throughout O’hare Airport. The first plane was to New York City, where there seemed to be more cabs then people. We were able to experience some of New York (a side walk view) because it was mandatory to travel outside of the airport to change flights. New York was loud with multiple noises, the air had an overwhelming feel to it. If we strayed off our directed path we would get sucked into the city, never to be seen again.


We made it to the airport where we then boarded the massive international airplane to Africa. Boarding the plane I knew that we had to sit in our seats for 14 hours and 50 minutes, I do not think this length of time actually hit me until the first two hours passed. 14 hours and 50 minutes is a long time. A very long time. I now understand that there are multiple ways one can position themselves in an airplane seat to sleep and most of those ways are very uncomfortable. On the plane ride there was a lot of time to think. I pondered about the students that were awaiting our arrival in Namibia. I wondered how I would be able to change their lives as much as I knew that they would change ours. Conversations with the teammate next to me led in tears of curiosity and laughter. The almost 15-hour plane ride will be one that will never be forgotten. The plane provided pillows that became our best friends and blankets that we wouldn’t have been able to sleep without. The airplane food was delicious also; we compared ourselves to astronauts eating it. Landing in Africa was a breath of relief. Coming off the plane and walking down the stairs I was ready for someone to snap a picture of us and to congratulate us on making it. We weren’t to our designation yet, we needed to ride a different plane for two more hours and it was well known that everyone was sick of sitting down.


The two-hour flight seemed like a breeze compared to the one that we had just been on. We giggled about our sleeping positions and anticipated landing. Landing was an experience in itself. Jetlag had set in but so did the realization that we were finally there. One full day of travel and it had all paid off. The air smells different in Africa. It has a clearer scent, as though you can smell everything that is going on around you. You can smell the fruit being sold, the dust off of the wood being cut, you can smell breakfast being cooked before the sun says hello. The noises are denser here also. It’s simple to sit outside and hear crickets produce music as well as predict when a car is going to pass by. It’s serene in a way.

View at our hotel.

On our way to the hotel from the airport we were lucky to see bamboos dancing in the trees and mountains in the distance. Arrebbucsh Travel Lodge is something comparable to a resort. The rooms are spacious and the food is delicious. My first meal in Africa was a piece of game meat and it was mouthwatering. There is a spot on the lodge that is perfect for watching sunsets. It’s indescribable how the colors in the sky blend together to create a piece of art work that can’t be replicated. Then a sky full of stars take over which reassures peace and sleep. Sleep will be not on my agenda tonight; however, tomorrow we are traveling to the National Institute of Special Education School for the Visually Impaired to meet the students. The enthusiasm pumping through my veins right now is almost obnoxious as I try to sleep but I am so ecstatic to meet the students and become part of their education.

Pointers had made it to Africa and were that much closer to touch the lives of individuals in need.


Kelly Mares, an elementary education and special education major, is blogging about her study abroad experience in Namibia, Africa.