017_The Arrival

Dry training: the boards had to wait
Dinner preparation
Distracted by dolphins

They arrived in groups. Sixteen in total. They arrived with bags in all sizes: from very small to really big. A long journey must lay behind them. Their tired eyes told a story of not enough sleep, turbulences and hours in the air.
The advance party landed around lunchtime on the planet. We were waiting for them, nervous but also excited. We only knew them from long-distance video calls with changing image quality, only knew their voices distorted from microphones and laptop speakers. And suddenly they were standing right in front of us: tired but with a bright smile. After months of digital contact, after weeks of hectic preparation and days of eager waiting the first two of seventeen have finally arrived. As they were the advance party we took them to their accommodation, so that they would have the chance to settle in and get everything ready for the main group arriving in the evening.

When their aircraft landed we were already waiting again at the arrival point. We saw them immediately: a big group roaming through the hall, seeming a bit lost but happy to have reached eventually. The welcome was warm and filled with a lot of “finally a face to the voice“ and “nice to meet you eventually“ utterances.

The first task the newcomers had to deal with were the very special means of transport. Just as we they would have to get used one of the characteristic South African cars. We took two of the newly arrived ones to pick up their partners-in-crime. On the way back they had to get used to the traffic and way of driving quite quickly. It seemed that traffic in their homeland is not as crazy as it is here.

Reaching the accommodation with a convoy of four white cars and eight members of the group the house turned into a lively, busy and cozy home for the next couple of weeks. Unfortunately they got to know another South African specific straight away: The power went off just after they have arrived. And the load shedding will continue over the next weeks.

The next day was all about exploring: beaches, restaurants, supermarkets. The first cars showed their character, two tires blew (on two different cars, including our own), and another member arrived who got lost on the way. We spend the evening together, cooking, eating, sharing stories and plans, especially for the following day.

We went to introduce the newcomers to the typical sport in Port Elizabeth: surfing. Some of them were well prepared and already knew how to ride the waves. Some were complete beginners and got to know the basics of the sport on King’s Beach. After the exciting morning we all came together on another part of the beach for a more relaxed end of the day. Together with the South African students, the newcomers and Janet we enjoyed the sun and the waves. And even dolphins came and checked out on the big group.
The last member who arrived in the last week seemed to be really important: seven were welcoming her at the landing spot and accompanied her to her vehicle. In the evening another welcoming meeting with the whole rest of the group took part. A braai was set up and lots of food was taken into the house. The table in the cottage was almost bending under the weight of all the salads, breads and meats but there was still enough place for us to sit around the table. It was a long, long evening and it really felt like our team from Wismar settled in their new home.