World Trip – Day 1

South Africa (SA) 1st-8th April

I know I’m running late by 3 weeks, but I’ve been busy living the dream.

Accommodation – Couchsurfing Host: Donald Massyn

April 1st – the flight

Arrived 5 pm local SA Time after leaving Sydney at 1200 noon for a 14 hour, 6862 miles or 11043-kilometre flight. I watched several movies I’d missed. I won’t review them. I can sleep on planes, but not well. So I only slept an hour or 2, and fitfully and read for some of it.

as expected there flight was crowded but not full there was a spare seat that help to make the flight slightly less claustrophobic.

I realised recently that I don’t read fiction very often, just for fun. I also realised that I enjoy James Bond movies but haven’t read the books that inspired them. So I’m reading “From Russia with Love” which interestingly is quite close to the Sean Connery movie from the ’60s.

I beautiful lightning storm greeted the plane as we arrived.

It took only about an hour to get through customs. It was storming with a full lightning show as I got off the plane at SA’s O. R. Tambo International Airport. I had three quarter of an hour wait that seemed like two hours for Donald, my couch-surfing host.

http://couchsurfing.com is website not unlike Airbnb but mostly free accommodation. You can register as a host and traveller. Hosts offer help travellers because it’s fun, they get to meet interesting travellers. Those of us who are couchsurfers are backpackers, creatives, Bohemians, travellers at the poor end of the demographic or just cheapskates. Hosts are often similar to couchsurfers because they have travelled the same way. So they reciprocating. Both hosts and couchsurfers are also at the courageous end of the spectrum. For some reason many mainstream people seem to think that the traditional Capitalist approach to pay-per-day plus extras accommodation (as in hotels and Airbnb) is perceived as safer than the generosity of hosts offering free services for fun and out of idealism is less safe. For safety sake you can check the reference system for both hosts and travellers for their mutual experience with each other. I hosted when I was living in Annadale, and had a spare room, then I couchsurfed three times on my last trip to Europe, five or six years ago.

Still as comfortable as I am with meeting strangers, the first meeting with a couchsurfing host when you don’t have a local phone number is anxiety filled. The airport free Wifi required a local phone number, so no Whatsapp.com call to reassure me Donald was on his way. I was only staying for a week in SA, so I have experimented with not having a local phone number.

It worked. More later.

Donald had a spare room, which regardless of the website’s name, is actually most common among Couchsurfing hosts. We sat talking for a while and he cooks me a quick dinner. I don’t have rules around food when travelling, or at other times I’m a guess. I take the Buddha’s Original Rule that you be flexible and open to experience so eat what is on the table. It’s the host’s Karma (in Buddhist terms. For me, it is about being a grateful guest and an adventurer. I went to bed about 10 pm local time which was 6 or 7, wakeup time in Sydney. I didn’t realise this until day 2.

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