The seaside scent of fresh fish permeated the air as I stepped off the behemoth Boeing 747 into Capetown, South Africa. I had spent the last 24 hours wandering through airports, getting intimate with airport security, and debating which critically acclaimed film to squint at on my 4×4 KLM seat-back screen, so readjusting to terrestrial life was refreshing. Unfortunately, our pre-arranged airport pick-up was a no-show; we found ourselves wandering through the airport at 11 p.m. trying to find a trustworthy cab ride.
When we got to the hostel, it seemed impossible for us to live there for another 10 weeks. But now we are experts--we know the best times for hot water in the showers; the best seats in the common area; the best times to find an empty kitchen to cook dinner, etc. We've found that living communally has it's perks. We meet a number of different people who come from all walks of life and are able to travel with them, learn about what they are working on, and be a part of their lives even if for a fleeting moment. The hostel also hosts events to allow guests to mingle like traditional braai nights (South African BBQ), movie nights, and tours. It is a great way to interact with other residents and the hostel desk workers.
I will be working for the Center for the Study of Violence and Reconiciliation while I am here. Unfortunately the first two weeks have been uneventful because the internet and servers have been down at the office. As a result, I have not been able to get started on any research. Hopefully everything is up and running by tomorrow so I can begin working on my research about transitional justice initatives in Western Africa.