I am not mentally prepared for this, I have prepared for insects and animals attacking me but not 5:30am starts. I wake up feeling sick again and almost frozen to death from last night. I take a quick shower but it doesn’t seem like anyone else woke up to get ready, is it not normal to get up and shower before you start your day? I feel like I need to be sick again so I spend ages in the bathroom thinking what did I just sign up for?
Jasmine and Hannah, help take the tent down because I’m too ill, the rule is wake up, get ready, put the bags in the truck, have breakfast, clean up and pack everything into the truck and leave. 7am is our leaving time and today we’re crossing over to Namibia, our first border crossing. I manage to nap a bit and feel a lot better. The landscape has changed from South Africa’s greenery to Namibia's desert and rocks. The moment we reach Namibia’s border and get out of the truck you feel the temperature difference hit you hard, woooooh it’s hot!!
We’re given border papers to fill out and I realise it asks my occupation, do I write recent graduate but travelling for a while? What do I say that would seem less pathetic? I get to the passport control and the lady shouts lady “What is your occupation?” I quietly mumble “unemployed” “What?” she screams back. I say it louder “I’m unemployed” the whole group hears and just bursts out into laughter, it’s not in a bad way most of us are unemployed but it’s the first time we ever have to write it and get questioned about it.
We drive about 30km from the border post to the campsite which is right beside the Orange river. The Orange river separates Namibia from South Africa and our campsite is just incredible! We have to put the tents up again and I list the many reasons I decided to camp to get me through it. Once they're up everyone is doing different things we’re told to meet at 5pm for a game of flunky ball and then dinner. A few people decide to go swimming in the river, “lets be immigrants guys” I hear from someone. I contemplate putting on my full body swimming suit I bought specially for this trip, it’s embarrassing and almost too tight to do it’s job (I ordered it from a Malaysian website and the size was 3 times smaller then me but I had to do with it.)
The thing is it’s mentally challenging to encourage yourself to swim in a river when you hate fish and generally sea life, when you’re scared of swimming and when you look like shit in your swimming suit. I force myself to do it anyway ‘Mariam you’re pushing boundaries, get in your swimming suit’ Hats off to my inner voice telling me to do stuff like this. I get into my swimming suit and run from my tent to the river trying not to get anyone’s attention. Jasmine and Anna are there and we decide to swim to South Africa, the water is beautiful but just annoyingly rocky.
A quick shower and we’re ready to play a game of flunky ball, we’re put into two teams and there’s a bottle in the middle half filled with water and everyone has a drink in their hand. I obviously don't drink so I grab a can of sprite and think how hard could it be? Harder than drinking a beer apparently. The aim is that your team finishes the drink as fast as they can when the ball is hit, everyone has a go at throwing the ball and when the bottle topples over we all drink until someone from the other team puts it back right. Let me also point out if you finish your drink you leave your team you can no longer throw the ball. We’re 15minutes into the game and there’s only me and sybil left, neither of us can throw a ball and neither of us can finish a can of sprite/beer. Eventually we win and laugh about how it took me longer to finish a can of sprite to a can of beer. woopps.
Fabby, Jasmine and I head out to walk around and take some photo’s at sunset, there are mountains from a distance and the beauty and peacefulness of it all just makes me appreciate being here. I suddenly realise the difficulties of waking up early, packing/unpacking a tent and dealing with all sorts of insects is well worth it when I get to travel and experience all this craziness even when I’m sick.
Grilled chicken is for dinner, I go for a second round making up for missing food the day before (who said I was going to loose weight in Africa?) I am still so shy of everyone and picking a seat is somewhat difficult, we are briefed for the next day and after dinner, some of us are playing games and some of us are chatting. I get into a deep conversation about the Syrian war and the refugees with a few of the Germans, they tell me that they understand Islam isn't ISIS and they are proud that their government has taken on refugees but it is taking a toll on their city. I appreciate hearing it from a different perspective, and just a few weeks before I was on this trip I was protesting with thousands of others for the UK to allow more refugees in.
Conversations like these with people from all over the world is one of the reasons travelling opens up your mind.