Hello, Reno

By the time I arrive at Reno-Tahoe International Airport, Nevada, I am disorientated, utterly exhausted and barely able to comprehend where I am. I’m almost never able to sleep on a plane, which means that after 16 hours of travelling time and an eight-hour time difference, my body was ready to kill me. Luckily Reno-Tahoe is a comparatively small airport, so there is one direction you can go in through the airport to the modest security set-up. Yes, TSA is just as scary as they make out on TV, even in Reno. I knew I was fully allowed to be in the country, I had my passport, visa and a return flight home. However standing at the desk whilst the officer scrutinises my documents and barks questions at me such as, ‘Why are you here?’ ‘Where are you staying?’ ‘Do you have any illegal activities planned?’, I feel like a common criminal. Seeming satisfied with my stuttering, nervous responses, he hands back my documents and sends me on my way. I am here. Officially on American soil. I make my way to baggage claim, looking around wide-eyed as I go. Reno calls itself the ‘Biggest Little City in the World.’ So far all I’ve seen is a rather large number of slot machines, typical of a city in Nevada I suppose. I mean, look at Las Vegas. Upon arrival at baggage claim, I locate my rucksack with ease and make my way towards the exit. But wait. I stop. Where am I going? I’m supposed to be collected from the airport by GSSN employees. Stumped, I find an empty bench and sit down to rest my legs, which are far too weary considering I’ve been sat on a plane for the majority of the day.

I can feel my eyelids drooping as I relax entirely, finally through with looking after myself. I can just have a quick nap before I’m collected, just a quick one…but it’s not to be. I look up as a shadow falls over me, and see a pink-cheeked girl about my age in front of me. “Are you with Camp America?” she asks, and I nod, smiling. She’s a Brit too! “Same here,” she says, and sits down next to me. “I guess we just have to wait until they send someone to pick us up.” We sit in relative quiet, only breaking the silence to giggle at a stereotypical American family, with several bags of McDonalds’ meals that they really, really could do without. Eventually we hear from the direction of the main exit a muffled, “I think that’s them!” We look in the direction of the sound and see two women running towards us holding up pieces of paper, and I can just about make out that one of them says my name. “Are you guys here to work at Camp Wasiu?” one of them asks us. I affirm that we are, and she grins and gives us a thumbs up. “Let’s get you back to Council then.” Behind her are several other girls, looking as knackered as I suppose I do. They must be the other international staff members. We make our way back to the large white minibus they came in, with ‘Girl Scouts of the Sierra Nevada’, emblazoned on the side in big green letters. The minute I’m settled in my seat, my head lolls against the window, my eyes close, and I’m asleep.


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