Ten things I learned traveling overseas to and around Cape Town, South Africa, with a layover in Amsterdam...
10. Customs & Immigration aren't all that bad.
The only thing that made me nervous about this trip was facing the unknowns of C & I...I have heard of many dreadful experiences. Praise God for safety and clear communication on this, my first journey overseas by plane! Made it through all of the countries, in and out, just fine. Atlanta was even smooth sailing...landed at 8 something PM and walked out in under an hour. Probably took longer to get off the plane than anything else. Very thankful for the short lines and courteous agents.
9. Always make room for closed toe shoes.
An extended layover in Amsterdam called for a few hours of touring Amsterdam Central. Not checking a bag on this journey overseas, there was limited room in my carry on luggage. I only took sandals since that's what I needed for Cape Town. I knew I was risking it with it still being winter and all in Amsterdam, but it was one I was willing to take. Epic fail! My feet were so cold in the rainy, cold weather walking around the city! And, needless to say, it was obvious I was a tourist!
8. KLM offers an impressive amount of food and beverages on their overseas flights.
If one would take advantage of every meal/snack/beverage offered on a 9+ hour flight, the calorie intake would be incredible compared to the amount of exercise one can do inbetween meals. Never once offered peanuts, though, which is such a difference from Delta flights in the US.
7. South Africa has the best orange juice ever!
I consumed more OJ in the few days I was in Cape Town and traveling around the peninsula than I have had in months at home. It was deliciously sweet, apparently from "picked just right" oranges. Actually, all of the juices I tried while over there were awesomely tasty. I am a huge fan of granadilla (passion fruit) juice, now, too!
6. Scarves and "Murses" (man bags) are alive and well in ZA and Amsterdam!
Everywhere were women and several men wearing scarves...in Amsterdam it made sense to me with the bone chilling wind and rain. Not so much in South Africa. I had to chuckle as I saw many a man carrying a man bag in South Africa. Scott and I were out of fashion since neither he nor I had a scarf...and he would probably do many a thing but carry a murse in public. I began knitting a scarf for myself on one of the long flights to Africa...yesterday I really wished I had finished it instead of reading my books.
5, Word of mouth travel suggestions pay off double fold!
A huge thank you goes out to the people who willingly offered suggestions of places to see and things to do in South Africa! At my cousin's wedding on Sunday afternoon, locals of Cape Town gave wonderful travel info for the remaining two days in South Africa. Several travel sites were browsed prior to arriving in SA, but none of them ever suggested the places that ended up being the highlights of the entire visit to Cape Town. It makes me shudder to think about all the things almost missed...praise God for His blessing through others!
4. All outlets are not created equal.
Never dreamt that American cords would not fit into the outlets in Europe/South Africa. Somewhere along the line of prep work, I missed this important thing to know. The City Lodge room in Cape Town had one outlet that had a space for one thing to be plugged in...I owe the photos of my trip to that one outlet!
3. Bird poo = a blessing
On Monday afternoon, while at a street market in Simon's Town, I was talking with a lady who had some of her beaded crafts for sale. All of a sudden, I see something fall from above me and feel it land on my arm. Warm and gooey bird poo splatted on my arm! The lady smiles big and repeats over and over again, "You blessed! You blessed!" She continued on to say, "It a good thing when that happen! You blessed!" I will give the bird credit for being colorful...it apparently enjoys a menu of colorful/seeded fruit and berries that are in the area.
2. Simple is beautiful!
My cousin and her new husband had a beautiful garden wedding on Sunday afternoon. The combination of the simple decor, the natural surroundings, and the friendly people who gathered there made for the most beautiful wedding I have been to and involved with in a very long time. It was an honor to be a guest!
(and, now, for my favorite)
1. God shows Himself real in all places for all people.
Having never been overseas before, and really not in poverty stricken/third world condition areas like one sees in books or from missionaries, driving through the countryside of the Cape Peninsula gave my heartstrings a tug. Outside of the town of Macassar, on the way toward Muizenberg, was indeed an area with poverty stricken conditions. Scrap wood and metal nailed together, or seemingly layered upon each other, formed a "house" (yet they had electricity/satellite available). As far as one's eyes could see, a shanty town made up the landscape on the right hand side of the road...on the left is False Bay, part of the Atlantic Ocean. Driving by, tears swelled up in my eyes and in my heart I asked, "Do these people know about God? Who will be willing to bring the Good News here?" A minute or two later, I had my answer. Turning left on a side road toward the bay, a truck was visible parked on the sand near the water's edge. A little below and beyond the truck was a group of people at the water's edge. Some in the water. It took a minute and then I realized what was going on. A group of kids, teens, and adults were gathered there for baptism! A small group, but a group nonetheless. Someone had taken the Gospel to where the people are. Some believed. They followed up their belief with baptism. God is good...all the time in all places...no matter what!