My trip to Durban began with flights from Portland, Ore. to Amsterdam and Johannesburg. En route to Amsterdam on a Delta Airlines flight, I flew over Canada and the northern Atlantic, then the UK and the North Sea, finally arriving at Schipol International around 8 a.m. local time. I had a short layover, then boarded a ten-hour KLM flight to Johannesburg. KLM is a great airline, very accommodating and modern; I’d highly recommend it to anyone interested. The in-flight meals were pretty fancy (I had some really good seafood risotto) and each seat had a personal entertainment system, including a remote-type device that doubled as a game controller and a small screen on the back of each headrest. I watched the last installment of Harry Potter while flying over Europe and the Mediterranean Sea, then watched Ocean’s Eleven and various episodes of The Office, 30 Rock and Sex and the City while flying over the vast African continent.
After arriving in Jo’burg around 11 p.m. local time, I wandered around Or Tambo International before (rather unsuccessfully) attempting to sleep on a bench for a couple hours. After some breakfast (and 30 free minutes of precious wifi!), I left on a one-hour British Airways flight to Durban. I loved looking at the layers of clouds, as well as the South African landscape once we began our descend to King Shaka International, the main airport for COP 17 delegates. I exchanged my dollars for South African rand and boarded an airport shuttle to the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Center (ICC), where I checked in and received my credentials to the conference. Then I took another shuttle to my hostel, Tekweni Backpackers. I’m staying in a room with nine other people, I think all from the UK youth delegation, but Tekweni is also hosting delegations from Canada and New Zealand. So far, most of the people I’ve spoken to are Canadian; it sounds like their delegation really has it all figured out, and is hard at work before the youth conference (COY 7) and COP 17.
I haven’t done much exploring yet – yesterday I was so jetlagged I slept most of the afternoon (and the rest of it was spent settling in, buying groceries and tech-y things), and today it is quite stormy so I’m hesitant to go exploring, despite it being the last day before COY and COP. I’ve had some troubles connecting with the other youth delegates here because everyone is so busy and involved with their own working groups, issues, etc., while I’m here on my own and without much of the institutional knowledge surrounding COP that everyone else seems to possess. I’m hoping the rest of the trip gets easier in the sense that I become more familiar with COP processes and expectations, and that I can get more involved and personally connected with other international youth.