My adventure draws closer. I am now but three sleeps away from departing my homeland and heading off into what is – for me – the complete unknown.
Three sleeps until I trade my high heels for ugly sneakers, my comfy bed for ….. God know’s what, and my entire wardrobe for the contents of a backpack (albeit a rather large one).
At this stage I am about this | ————– | prepared to leave. In fact preparations thus far have included pulling out some crappy old clothes to wear, locating said ugly sneakers, turning my arm into a pin cushion with rabies/flu/hep A shots and the mandatory sad goodbyes with all and sundry – sad goodbyes meaning lots of delicious food, wine and basically one last excuse to party before a month in the wilderness.
This is OK though. On my last big OE-type trip I packed my bag two hours prior to leaving my house for the airport. It can (and most probably will) be done.
So what am I to expect? Well, I like to say ‘expect the unexpected’ and ‘anything could happen’ – and in this instance, those quips couldn’t be more on par.
What I do know:
– On Sunday I will board a (hopefully very large) plane *shudder* and fly 19 hours across the planet to Johannesburg; making one brief stop in Perth which I will use for yet another sad goodbye with my dear friend Aliesha.
– I’ll spend 6 hours in an airport which is apparently notorious for passport scammers who prey on unsuspecting tourists (is that me?)
– I’ll board another plane – unfortunately this one will be ridiculously small, I just know it – and fly 1 hour from Johannesburg to a place called Richard’s Bay. Thankfully 11 fellow volunteers will also be on board this plane, although how I’ll ever know exactly who they are is unbeknownst to me. I’m guessing I’ll just keep an eye out for other terrified-of-passport-scammers looking people and hope for the best.
– At Richard’s Bay I will look for my name on one of those VIP-esque name board things that taxi drivers hold up at the airport arrivals (don’t lie, you’ve always wanted to see your name on one of those).
– My fellow volunteers and I will head three hours into Zululand to begin our four weeks of adventure – whatever that may entail.
– I’ll spend a couple of days on an elephant and lion reserve, before heading to another reserve to conduct leopard monitoring and research with a wildlife conservationist and two other volunteers (bot girls, my age) for two weeks.
– The two weeks after that will be spent on yet another reserve, this time tracking and monitoring African Wild Dogs and a variety of other animals.
And that is all I know. I don’t know what I’ll eat or what my accommodation will be like. I don’t know what the other volunteers – or the conservationists – will be like. I don’t know what the weather will be like; how bad my jet-lag will be; whether I’ll get a day off and what I’ll do if I do; if I will be homesick/friendsick/sistersick; I don’t know what each day will be like; what I’ll see or what I’ll do exactly.
The only thing I know is that no matter what happens it is going to be life changing, and a pivotal point in my life so far.
Keep watching this space ….. it’s all happening.