I am in need of a metaphor.
Here's the scenario:
I have just been on a ship for 15 days. My port of departure was in Germany. The container ship lands in Cape Town, South Africa. My mission is to spend the next four months going north to Cairo by public transportation. I get on a shuttle bus and go to the container port gate, where there is high security. I have all these giddy expectations--a feeling of excitement, an expectation of a romantic moment when I set foot on the continent of Africa for the first time. I'm Stanley, I'm Livingstone, I'm Speke, I'm... oh, a gal with a backpack entering a modern city but still, I'm in f*ing Africa!! How cool is that! I was on the bridge on approach and the western cape is lovely and awesome.
And here goes, the big first step...
Then, I have to get a guard's attention. He's behind a gate and some kind of security glass. He makes a smart remark and buzzes me in. It's like... what is it like? Going to the DMV? No. Going to the bank? Not really. Going to a shop on Avenue A back when the East Village was famous for crime?
I need something completely mundane to contrast. What is it like? Someone help me out here. I have metaphor-block.
A simile would be good too.