It’s four thirty, I landed in Jo’burg 30 minutes ago. My connection flight is at half past eight, so there’s quite some time to kill at the airport. I’m scuffing through the airport, eyes locked on the floor. Locked on the floor because they are red from cyring and my face looks hungover and my hair is unwashed and greasy. I look quite exactly how I fell: Pretty shitty!
A couple of guys ask me if I want them to carry my hand luggage. I put them off with a tired smile. »No, thanks guys.«. »You alright, Ma’am?«, one of them asks me, not looking for some rands but for a little chat. »How could I? I′m leaving.«, I say and he nodds understandingly although I’m pretty sure he never left Jo’burg farther then to go to Pretoria, and surely not on a plane.
I smoke a cigarette in front of the airport. The air is hot and sticky and suddenly I feel the urge to call my mom. Who doesn’t get that feeling when being all alone and feeling like the last person on the planet? But I’m 10.000 kilometers away from home and I’m all grown-up and so I put the phone back into my pocket and walk back in for a coffee. There’s not many things on earth, a hot cup of coffee can’t make at least more bearable. That’s when I meet the Lloyds.
They sit down on the table next to me and eye the pathetic picture of misery I am for a moment before they ask: »You wanna sit with us?« I do! Grateful I am leaving my lonely table to sit with the elderly couple and their son. We don’t have much in common but it’s enough. We share the love for South Africa – and dinner. She is on the way to Spain where she wants to meet her daughter to walk the Camino de Santiago. The South African looks frail and thin. She’s already sixty. I’m impressed! He tells me that he’s love to go with her right now. He’s going to miss his wife, he says. But he and their son will join the girls later in Santiago de Compostela. It feels like we’ve been knowing each other for years although we only met a couple of minutes before.
They won’t let me pay the wraps I had for dinner. Instead they show me pictures of their daughter in Europe, tell me my English is fabulous and ask me if their home country isn’t the most beautiful place I have ever seen. It is! I start crying again. Why is leaving so hard? Their son – a couple of years older than me and clearly with a down-syndrom – notices my tears. Awkwardly he rummages through his bag and draws out his smartphone. »Good music! Listen to this, makes you feel better!« He shows my a band picture. It’s Distrubed. I can’t help but smile. Hardrock always makes me feel better. I write down the name on a handkerchief and put it in my pocket. We hug goodybe.
And the last thirty minutes before boarding I don’t feel any tears dwelling up. There’s a smile on my face. South Africa said goodbye, but it said goodbye in a way that makes me want to come back even more. And that’s what I am going to do.