Posted by: Waheeda Harris | January 28, 2015

The Local Girl – my first travel memory

Travel memories

Travel memories

What’s your first travel memory?

For me its a flight – a return to South Africa with my parents when I was five years old. I don’t remember the preparations or the first flight – which was from Vancouver to London, England, but I always remember the next flight.

We flew to Switzerland, to spend a few days in Zurich before heading to South Africa. I always remember arriving in the airport, with my white purse with a red heart as my travel accessory. This was the 1970s, and even though so many things were laid-back, I remember being searched. The very kind lady asked me to open my purse, asked me about what was inside and then patted me down, which led to me laughing since I was ticklish.

I remember we didn’t have any luggage, and that my parents had to sleep without pajamas, which I found funny. But soon our luggage was there and we explored Zurich and lucky for me, I got my first watch.

And my next memory is being on the flight to South Africa, a lengthy flight down the coast of Africa. Because we flew South African Airways, and because of apartheid, we were not allowed to stop anywhere – so it was a very long flight. I’ve always wondered if that’s what prepared me for the long flights I do now.

I have a vague recollection of being sick, and being allowed to lie down on an open stretch of three seats, and having the flight attendant tuck a blanket around me. And then we were there, with so many family members waiting for us, excited for our arrival.

A few weeks ago when I arrived in Cairo, I noticed the crowds of people standing outside the airport waiting for friends or family. It reminded me of that moment so many years ago when I arrived in Cape Town. And I realized how much I wished there was an excited group of people at the airport every time I arrived.


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