The day I met 24 new people / by Mariam Harraz

Arrived in Cape Town early afternoon. Met up with my driver who dropped me off at the hotel we're spending one night in. It's the first time I hear the South African accent and while he's giving me advice on where to go or how I should spend my day, I am trying to figure out what the hell he's saying. I love the accent but 3/4 of the time I couldn't understand it!

I check in and the man at the concierge tells me my room mate has just left to hike up Table mountain, I was like shit I wanted to go to! So I ask him who from the people sitting around are from my group and he points to one girl and says she's been on the internet since 10am in the morning (it's now about 1pm) haha. I go over and introduce myself "Hi my name is Mariam, are you with the G adventures tour?" we get talking for a while, she's from Australia and I point that out right away. She says she's waiting on her room mate and they were heading to Table Mountain if I wanted to join. I definitely take her up on that offer and within a few minutes we’re on our way there.

After long queues and about an hour and a half wait we are at the top of Table Mountain and realise that we have about 30minutes before we have to head back down to get to the briefing on time. I have to say though it hit me when I was up there amongst the clouds looking over such a spectacular view, I am finally here. I am finally away from everything, I am FINALLY doing what I have always wanted to do. I am alone. I have wanted to do this on my own to push myself out of my comfort zone, I wanted to be out in the nature and wild and camp for 40 days even though I have had such a horrible experience with it before, I wanted to do my business in a bush and go days without showering. I have that luxury at home so let me experience it without it.

We get back on time for the briefing and I finally meet my roommate who I’ll be sharing a tent with for the next 40 days. We have a little giggle and head up to meet everyone else. The embarrassing introductions come first and I panic on what to say, I am the odd one out wearing a scarf of course but that doesn't bother me. We are briefed for about two hours on what’s going to happen in the next 40 days, and we even have to sign a form! I didn’t want to expect anything with my group sometimes expecting things spoils the surprise.

Me and my roommate then head out to change some money for the next few days because we won’t have an ATM for about a week. We get into a taxi and tell him to drop us off at the Bureau de Change in central Cape Town and he looks back and says “You want to change money? I can get you a better rate. It’s not really legal but don’t worry.” So me and Jasmine (my roommate) look at each other and I can sense a bit off fear but more excitement plus we need more money so we head to a supermarket and our taxi driver tells us to wait in the car while he speaks to someone and waves at us to come. Within a few minutes we’re back on track and off to dinner with 24 new people.