My trip to South Africa was my first solo international trip. They say experience is the best teacher, and it taught me a lot on that journey.
I flew to South Africa in August. I knew it would be Winter in the Southern Hemisphere, but I wasn’t sure what that meant. After all, part of South Africa is technically in the tropics! I’d heard the weather was fairly temperate year-round.
I arrived in the evening. My host wasn’t able to meet me at the airport due to work, so he sent a friend of his to meet up with me. I rented a car, which he then drove back to my host’s place, to free me from the burden of navigating an unfamiliar city (and driving on the opposite side of the road) my first night there. After a delicious braai for dinner, my host led me to my room.
Which was actually his room.
The house he lived in was a duplex, and his side was a small one-bedroom affair. It was a lovely home, tastefully decorated and extremely comfortable. But it was not really set up for guests.
I would have been fine sleeping on a couch in the living room, but my host insisted that I stay in his room. His example of hospitality challenges me to this day. I hope I can be as hospitable a host as he was.
I was exhausted from my trip. I took a quick shower, and then went to bed. Which is when I discovered that, tropics or no, Winter nights in South Africa are…not warm.
My biggest problem was my feet. They were bare, as I had not brought any socks (I pretty much exclusively wear sandals). And I don’t know about you, but if my feet get cold, my whole body feels cold. Despite being extremely tired, it took me a long while to get to sleep just because of how cold my feet were.
The next day, I went to a shopping mall. That whole adventure is another day’s story, but I’ll tell you this: I bought some socks. And I slept warm the next night!