Now I can go on telling you the rest of the 8 months, some are hard, tough as hell or I could just jump right into the juicy parts. So the shortened version of my trip will be about the times we were not treated as slaves but as Superhero`s sent from Africa.
The first couple of days were very different, getting use to the humidity, landscapes, shops, gas stations, but mostly getting use to understanding the way these people talked. We caught up very quickly and became street wise as such. At the Gas Stations you don’t have jockeys, so you have to go inside, give your money and then fill up your own tank, talk about job creation, America could learn from South Africa.
American girls I would say are very naive, innocent and they are always friendly. We were fortunate to make friends where ever we went. Over the next few months we travelled from Louisiana, to Texas, back to Louisiana, thru Arkansas to Illinois then Missouri and back down south. In Sullivan, Missouri was when the fun really started. When we arrived, 5 of us decided to go for a beer at a local pub, Pioneer Pub. The owner was serving us and very quickly we became friends, after all I spent over $200 that afternoon in a matter of 3 hours. We were stationed there for a week and returned every night. On my last night, as I left earlier than the rest, they closed the bar and only the South Africans were allowed in, with off course, all the selected few American girls from the town, only the best for the VIP guests. I wish I could tell you guys everything that happened that night, but I’ll say this much, if you are going to a small town in the States, take cash and be single.
The group then splitted, one part went to Jacksonville and we went to Griggsville, Illinois, a very small farming town. Now this isn’t the type you would see on T.V. no, this is hard bred American farmers, hot girls, big monster trucks and loads of Demolition Derby. Almost every night we came close to a brawl, but the smooth talker I am, we never ended up in a fight. In fact, exactly the opposite, most nights we would end up at someone`s house for a after party. Most nights not even the same crowd. We were just the flavour this town wanted and needed for so long. Again, we would have to be in person for me to go into detail. Most people have the idea that Americans are obnoxious, fat and dumb. Well, I can agree to an extent, but I would say this rather. Now imagine Africa was a United continent, you don’t need a passport to go into Nigeria, Angola or anywhere on the continent. Everyone lived under the same laws, let`s say South Africa was made 50 times bigger. I know I haven’t seen the whole of South Africa, but I have been told and studied in school all about South Africa. Most Americans won`t even leave there state in their lifetime, not to mention even see another country, cause it is that damn big. So they are thought in school all about their country, thus I don’t really blame them for not knowing world History and geography as well as we knows it.
There were several county`s we visited, but it must be said, I did get to experience college life for a brief moment when we went to Columbia, Missouri. We made friends with Le Roy and Melony; they worked for a brief moment on a stand for Direct T.V. (DSTV). They even took us out some nights to see the town and their local hang outs. One night Le Roy decided to take some of us to the University hang outs. Yes, ladies and Gentlemen, it`s like it is in the Movies. Tits and Ass everywhere, as much as your eyes desire, it`s there for the feast of your liking.
Being South African, we are always a bit shy at first, till Le Roy said to us, guys, don’t disappoint me, if I was in your shoes, this would`ve been in heaven. His words didn`t even hit my ears and the game started. I went to the bar, got my mate to stand next to a pretty girl and me on the other side. I simply asked him in Afrikaans, “Gaan jy kyk? Of moet ek vir jou gou leer?” She was sold. The other chaps quickly followed and we were all over the place chatting to only the best looking girls. After the club closed, we ended up at one of her friend`s houses and we partied like they do in these Student movies. We even got pulled over by a cop that night. Fortunately for Le Roy, the cop`s wife was an expat form South Africa, so we took control and started talking about the rugby and the cricket and so on. No ticket for Le Roy, just a warning. Like I said, South Africans are everywhere. I think in the total 8 months, we walked into some fellow countrymen about 9 or 10 times at least, considering we weren’t in the same spot for longer than 3 weeks.
Towards the end of the trip, everyone got tired and time was getting a bit dragged out. Winter was setting in and past times weren’t that great anymore. So when we were told we are heading home, we were excited as 5 year olds the day just before Christmas. We left New Orleans for JFK. We had a stopover for 13 hours in New York. I wasn’t leaving U.S.A. without seeing Manhattan, no Sir. I asked everyone who wanted to join, no-one, not even one person wanted to join. So, I set off to the subways and I went to Time Square, all by my lonesome one some. I`m glad I went alone, I don’t think anyone in the world could`ve made it better for me. I struggled at first on the subways, but if you have an accent, don’t fear, New Yorkers will crumble at your demand. Speak to the people, in general they are grumpier than the rest of America, but when they hear you are from a foreign country, you will be better than sliced bread. I went into The Hard Rock Cafe` and ordered a Budweiser, the girl next to me was as smoking hot as any super model I have seen on T.V. and she was friendly as one could get. She showed me around the club as it is much bigger than one would assume at first. It was late at night and this City was Buzzing, Friday evening in a crowded City, feeling safe, isn’t something I have experienced ever. I looked like a Japanese tourist at one stage with the amount of pictures I was taking. The advertising billboards were laminating the streets as to how bright they were. NYPD office in the middle of Time Square, the sign is laminated in blue, no-ways; this wasn’t the dull look of SAPS. The guys were standing on every street corner, it felt like a party on the street, yet no one was dancing, everyone was smiling and chatting, friendly faces everywhere. I fell in-love, died and went to heaven. Still now when I think back to that evening, goose bumps overwhelms me and I long the day I will go back. When Frank sang about New York, he was so on the right track, this city never sleeps and is the best place if you are looking for life.
So we got onto our flight, destined for OR Tambo from New York. The long awaited journey back home. All went cool on the flight, considering 40 South Africans aged between 19 and 29. SAA were smart enough to put all of us in the back off the plane. Now after 8 months of living and working together, one could say you create a bond you will carry for the remainder of your days. I think whenever I hear or see one of my mates from our American trip, I miss those days, only the good ones, and I miss them. They all brought something to the table and we will forever be friends. The flight started off slowly, everyone was still civil and got into their seats. I took the easy route as I hardly closed an eye the previous night and fell asleep. I woke up somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean and the party started. We finished all the booze they could deliver, including the wines. At one time I can remember 12 of us standing and chatting away like we were in a pub. I was even let into the kitchen to help myself. The flight attendants left us; they knew they weren’t going to get very far. We did behave however. Finally we landed at OR Tambo and I was set for my final stretch back to Cape Town, my mountain was calling for me. When I got back home, I felt like I never left, I didn’t even go home that day, I went straight to my friends but was asleep at 8 o`clock that evening.
I do hope this was entertaining enough, when you travel, enjoy every breath taking moment.