The Vanderbilt men's and women's tennis teams embarked on a week-long adventure to South Africa. Check back with vucommodores.com throughout the week for updates from different members of the teams. The first update came from junior Jackie Wu.
Day 1 - November 20th/21st, 2010: Crazy Travel Day
Greetings from South Africa! This year, the men's and women's tennis teams have been given the incredible opportunity of experiencing Johannesburg, Kruger, and Capetown during our Thanksgiving break. Though most have traveled to many different destinations around the world including Australia, Ireland, and Bulgaria, traveling out of the country is a novelty to a few of us.
What made this evident? The constant stream of questions that never seemed to end: "What do we bring? What happens with our money? How long's the flight? Will all of our stuff get stolen? Do I need to get a converter and an adapter? What's the different between a converter and an adapter?" And my personal favorite: "Can I bring my camera on board?" That really was a question asked, and that person was not kidding in the least bit. However, I'm hoping that by the end of this event-packed week, those questions will be a thing of the past. Seriously, why wouldn't you be able to bring your digital camera on board?
After a morning filled with workouts and practice, we loaded up the bus and headed towards the airport. It's always at that point where I think to myself, "Okay, this time I definitely forgot something essential in my dorm room." Minor detail. Our first flight went into Atlanta where we had a connection to Johannesburg. Next thing we knew, Vanderbilt tennis took over half of the back section of what became our floating home for the next 16 hours.
Thank goodness for the amazing personal in-flight entertainment system, which had a large selection of great movies, CDs, TV shows, and games. But really, how much time out of the 16 hours can you kill by just staring at the small bright screen in front of you? For those lucky few that can fall asleep just about anywhere, they had no complaints. For the rest of us, however... Let's just say that after a certain point, the clock for the countdown until arrival seemed to have stopped moving.
When those wheels hit the ground smoothly (way to go, Delta!), reality kicked in, and it finally hit us that we were in Africa. Africa! As soon as we stepped foot into the airport, you could just see all of us reaching into our bags for cameras. Did we look like tourists? Totally! We were greeted by our tour guide, took some time to exchanges dollar for rand, and hopped on a bus for the hotel. It is very similar to Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, and that is evident both on the exterior and the interior. We had a nice dinner in a restaurant located within the complex and retired to our rooms relatively early in preparation of the long day ahead of us tomorrow.
With matches, museums, hippos, lions, and a beautiful hotel that sits right on the water in Capetown, I'm both excited and anxious to see what will unfold in the next several days. And so, the adventures begin!