The Journey

By: Sadie Hertz and Chandini Antal

CLE to JFK

JFK to SA

SA to ZAM

A trip to Zambia. A trip a of a lifetime. A trip that changed our lives. Our journey began at the airport on a 7am flight to JFK airport where we would reach our connecting flight to Johannesburg. We all arrived bright and early and completely exhausted. The night before many of us we’re too excited to sleep but we got through it anyway. We first began by loading our bags and getting through security, losing some of our water bottles along the way. Eventually we made it to the gate and we were off. A good 17 hours later and a few connecting flights later we had reached our destination, Zambia. We get in to the lines for customs and meet this lovely group of travelers from LA trying to cut us in line and showing the agent itinerary step by step which took forever. After waiting for that to be over we hopped on this bus to get to the Zambezi waterfront: the place we would be staying for the next few days. We step off and there we are right on the zambezi river—a place we’d never thought we’d be. We get our tent keys and start to set up our tents—an adventure in itself; trying to tie massive bug nets in tiny tents was no easy feat, yet we persevered and tried to make our tents as cool as possible. We later got hungry and went to the restaurant attached to the place we were staying: one of our first group dinners. After a few days we got into a routine there. We woke up got breakfast and did numerous activities each day.. One day we went on a safari and we all bundled up in our warmest clothes and hopped on this big safari car thing with our camera ready. We saw a bunch of giraffes, rhinos, elephants, and whatever those things were called.  And one morning we even had an elephant interaction where we fed elephants which was an unreal experience. Going along with nature we, walked across the bridge at Victoria Falls while getting soaked, but it was so worth it. We stayed at the camp for about a week, then made our transition to the boarding school. The plan was to take a 6 hour bus ride to get there. But, it did not go according to schedule and it ended up taking us nearly eleven hours and a trip to the grocery store to get ham and cheese sandwiches. But, nevertheless, after a long journey, we arrived at the school. When we walked in all the kids were watching the World Cup. We didn’t want to disturb anyone and tried to slip in. Though, soon enough, we were spotted and immediately greeted by the kids. You could feel the sense of love and hospitality as soon as you walked through those doors. In the next few days we bonded with the kids over simple things like tea breaks in the morning and sports in the afternoon. We even woke up at 5 am to play volleyball and had dance parties after hours. These are the moments we will always remember. The simplicity speaks volumes and that we will never forget. After our week at the school we went on a retreat with some of the KF kids we met there and some from another school we visited as well. There we bonded over random songs we heard on the speakers and trying to not get chased by monkeys. We put on a talent show, sat around a campfire, and tried to speak Nyanja . There were so many other things that happened, but we can’t put three weeks and a whirlwind of emotions into completely into writing.

ZAM to SA

SA to JFK

JFK to CLE

How do you say goodbye to a place that you not only became connected with so quickly, but provided you with the most amazing memories that you will never forget? The answer is simple, you don’t. It’s been almost three months since we have landed in the states, and I have yet to fully accept that our trip has concluded. Yes, we might be adjusted back in our normal routines at school, but little moments have us sent back into our Zambia mindsets, leaving a constant “homesickness” lingering. Between being connected with friends on Facebook or having small ZamFam lunches/dinners, we haven’t truly grounded our feet again, and maybe we never will. So when we arrived at the Lusaka airport to begin our adventure home, it felt like less of a straightforward goodbye but rather more of a see you later. Zambia isn’t the easiest of places to get to from America, we are constantly checking back on it… almost as if we never left. The long haul flight began at 2100 hours (9 o’clock), departing from Johannesburg, 17 hours away from JFK. As we were caught in the awkward time difference, we had to force ourselves to stay awake until a reasonable time to get back on track with our American schedules. Sitting in a row of four with Chandini, Jala, and Mr. Ciuni time was passed journaling, reading and playing cards until eventually we all crashed. When I woke up with just over an hour left on the flight it seemed surreal that after all this time, we simply go back into our everyday roles. The conversations drifted from the amazing people we met or the incredible places we adventured through, to the people we’ve missed and the foods we were going to buy once in JFK. However, our plans took a detour as we landed in a rain storm and the ZamFam was stuck waiting for our luggage as our small amount of time left in our layover kept ticking past. After over thirty minutes we then rushed with our bags through customs and rechecking the bags, our first minutes back in the states rushing from place to place. As we start to cap this endeavor we took part in together we bonded over screaming “On your left!” or “On your right!” as we raced to make our connecting flight. The funny part is after the stress and sweat, our plane was then delayed; leaving us in exasperated laughter sitting in the lobby of the terminal. These last few moments together were definitely taken for granted since it was the last time, because once we landed in Cleveland, our families were the only things on our mind. However, that didn’t last long as just 72 hours later we had a ZamFam dinner due to separation anxiety. So no, you don’t say goodbye to those beautiful places; You say thank you.