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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Kenise

Journey to the Motherland

As anticipation built, I knew the day was near. Soon, I would be off to South Africa to discover new memories of a place I’ve never thought I would ever visit and embark a new journey in life. I never truly desired to go to South Africa. Well, I really had no desires to go to Africa period, especially this soon. Maybe Egypt, Morocco, and a few popular ones, but they really weren’t high on the list.

So, I’m sure you’re wondering now, then why did you go? Well, at the time, a friend mentioned their dream trip was South Africa. It seemed as if the moment she mentioned her dream trip everything begun to fall into place. Though I had no desires to go, I’d never turn down a trip and a chance for new adventure. I kid you not, the next day a deal popped up, Houston to Johannesburg. It seemed so surreal… divine.

We purchased our tickets and were set for South Africa.

You’d think after that this would be some awesome fairytale of a story. Well, not so much. You see, the friend whose dream trip this was, backed out on going. This basically left me by myself for a part of the trip. I couldn’t not go because my other friend purchased tickets to meet later on in the trip. I couldn’t do to her what was done to me. Plus, the tickets were nonrefundable. That meant my ass was going, friend or not.

Given the circumstances, I was traveling the first leg of the trip alone. My friend, Kristen, was going to meet me later in Cape Town, but I was still alone. I mean, I’ve in a sense traveled alone before while studying abroad, but it isn’t the same. Before I knew I was meeting a group of people when I landed and we were given an itinerary to follow. Whereas now, I was meeting no one and had to figure it all out for myself.

It also didn’t help that my friends and family seemed to be more nervous than I about going. I, anxiously eager caught myself drowning in other people’s insecurities and fear due to lack of experience and knowledge for a foreign land. Of course, you read many stories and watch the news and see that the media doesn’t shed much good on this place, but I couldn’t let that stop me. In fact, it made me want to go even more.

Though it didn’t really pan out how one would have thought, I believe this trip was more so meant for me. In my mind, I knew if I survived this trip I was ready to give in to the desires of my heart and pursue travel full time. This, for me, was my test and I was ready.

As I stepped on the plane, the realization of this being a long ass flight was beginning to settle in. Riding economy meant little to no leg space. Lord must have heard my prayers because I had an empty seat next to me. Uber excited for that extra room to stretch I knew I could handle this 14-hour flight to Doha, Qatar. The free recently released movies and the semi-open bar was a good touch as well. The food was pretty good too. Except for the eggs. The eggs were freakin’ disgusting!

With my 8-hour layover in Doha, Qatar, I was ready to explore. It beats staying in an airport, though it was nice and lavish, it really wasn’t for me. The dream almost died when the customer service rep said I needed a visa to exit the airport. As I walked around the airport passing all the shops I couldn’t afford, I saw a “Free City Tour” booth offered by Qatar Airways. I moseyed on over and signed up for the next tour. The tour provided special access into the city through the tour. I couldn’t leave the tour, but I was able to explore the city.

Heading to the charter bus, we stepped outside to get on. It was sooo freakin' humid that my

glasses immediately fogged up. Qatar was another leave of humidity and heat I never knew existed. At that moment, I was so thankful for Houston weather and vowed never to complain because it felt like I fell into the pits of hell. The heat was soo disrespectful. I could barely take pics because the humidity fogged my camera lens.

The tour consists of 3 stops, The Pearl port, The Pearl neighborhood, and Souq Waqif. The Pearl port was where boats dock and home to a few fancy restaurants. The Pearl neighborhood was full of high-end shops and homes. They even had a Ferrari dealership in the middle of the neighborhood. No lie, all that was boring and pretty whack because it was night and I couldn’t afford it so I didn’t care to look at it.

The only part I enjoyed was the Souq Waqif. The Souq Waqif is a traditional Arabian market, where you will find garments, jewelry, spices, and handicrafts. They also have different types of restaurants and lounges where you can enjoy a good drink and shisha. We only had 30 min to walk around, so I grabbed something to eat and people watched. If I ever get a chance to do this again, I will make sure to grab some Arabic coffee and shisha flavors.

Finally, back at the airport, I prepare for the final leg of the trip as I head to Johannesburg.

Joburg... Here I come, XOXO


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