So after 24 hours and 3 planes I made it. In each airport and on every plane, I had one rule: Don’t Panic. Have no idea where South African Airlines is located in JFK? Don’t panic. Ask that nice man there. Go the wrong way in Johannesburg airport? Can’t find customs? Don’t panic. Backtrack and follow the crowd. 6 hours left on this plane ride? Don’t panic. Watch one more movie. Or three.
My favorite moment was when I was on my way to my gate in the Johannesburg Airport, I had finally got my baggage, went through customs, rechecked my baggage, and got my last boarding ticket. I am just stepping through the door to where the sign says All Terminals when suddenly I am accosted by some man in some type of uniform. In 5 seconds flat he had taken my boarding pass out of my hand and was saying “I know the way! Quickly follow me, they are boarding! Hurry!” And starts running away with my boarding pass. Um? I had no time to process so I just ran after him. We keep going and as I’m running I realize what is happening, he wants money from me. As soon as I think this he turns back and says “It is very nice of me to show you the way, twenty dollars will do.” Oh god, I think, they are targeting me as the stupid American girl, and I am totally about to cave and give him twenty dollars. We keep running. I take out my wallet. I am hot and sweaty and tired and am not sure if I really am about to miss my plane. He sees me looking in my wallet, a torn look on my face. “Twenty dollars will do” he says again. Fuck. I didn’t want to be scammed. I didn’t want to cave. So finally I said, “Look I don’t have twenty dollars, here is 20 rand”. “It’s too little!” he exclaimed. I snatched my boarding ticket from his hand and said “Sorry bro”. I make it the rest of the way to my gate on my own.
It wasn’t even close to boarding.