1/19/07 - 1/20/07 0 °F
Well, today was our last day at San bona. Last night I got a parting gift of a tick bite (again). Why me? Steve wasn't bit by anything! Me? A spider and a tick. Well, I don't have the symptoms of African tick bite fever, so I guess my little friend wasn't a carrier. There was a party underway when I discovered the tick. The party was a good time: music, great company and everyone here likes to have a good time - they're a lively bunch!
We hung around until 11AM the next day at San bona, just hanging out. The people there were so nice. Everyone gave us hugs and we said our goodbyes to the other volunteers and the staff and settled our account. We hugged goodbye and drove off into the dust out of the gate. It's so weird to leave a place that you spent so much time at, knowing you'll probably never see it again. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, it's like Brigadoon, except this time, the reserve disappeared in the dust (not mist!) haaahaa
Claire, one of the volunteers, headed into Cape Town with us, to spend the weekend with friends from work who were in town (one of them works in Jo'burg). She was kind enough to let us drop off our bags at her hotel, so I got some more quality shopping time in : ) We met her and her friends for drinks at the V&A Waterfront. It was a really nice way to start our (long) journey home. We sat by the waterfront and enjoyed great conversation with an international table of people (2 Britons, a Scot, and us) and watched huge ships from China sway into the harbor. The table next to us were 2 Americans (one lives in Zimbabwe) and they recognized our accents (there aren't many Americans in South Africa). After drinks, and goodbyes, Steve and I grabbed a bite to eat (which I later regretted - vomiting at the airport as they were calling our row to board the plane was no fun!) and grabbed a taxi back to the airport. The cab driver was a Xhosa and knew English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa and some Swahili. I asked him what he thought of the USA when he asked where we were from and he resented the "brain drain" out of South Africa and into the US. He was an interesting individual.
Our flight wasn't until midnight. We stumbled onto the plane and I slept for most of the flight, not feeling well (did I have African tick bite fever I wondered?) I awoke feeling much better and ready to take on Amsterdam! We reflected on our little Cleo cat during the flight (Jan 19 was the 3 year anniversary of her passing).
I could see the colors of the sky changing as the sun rose. I suddenly noticed that we were flying over the Sahara desert at sunrise! I was watching "Gandhi" on my personal entertainment unit, but was torn away from the movie to admire and investigate the cascading sands below me. I was completely fascinated with the land below - I fumbled around for a map and determined that we were flying over Algeria (close to the Libyan border). I could see the North Africa coastline and peered through our binoculars to actually see the waves crashing against the North African shoreline. Amazing!!
Next we flew over the south of France and soon I saw snow-capped mountains turn into the Swiss alps! Fabulous!
It was so weird to be in Amsterdam again, buying the same train tickets, and leaving the same station. When we exited Centraal Station it was a bit brisk at 50 degrees and it felt great to be in a quintessential European city like Amsterdam. That was a really nice way to break up all the traveling. We walked past our old hotel and wandered a bit aimlessly for awhile. We didn't have enough time for the Cat Museum. We had a fab lunch at De Vergulde Lantaarn on Nieuwendijk (a very old eatery) and walked around and I got some good pictures.....
.... and we reminisced about our visit there 3 years ago. It felt great to be back in Europe again!
The next leg of our trip was an 8 hour flight to JFK. We were met by a friendly driver and a wall of cold air when we exited the airport. He seemed to be fascinated with our trip and we gave him some highlights until we both fell asleep in the back of the limo (how did we end up with a limo? we certainly weren't complaining!)
20 hours of flying is a lot. We were so grateful to be home. Thanks for keeping up with us. I appreciate the comments about my writing, but I am actually planning on "cleaning up" the entries when I upload the pics. There were 2 computers for the volunteers and the staff to utilize. Often there was someone waiting, so I was in a hurry when I entered the blog in.
We're definitely changed people after having this experience. We met some amazing people and learned so much! We can't wait to share the photos and the stories with you. We feel blessed to have such loving friends and family in our lives.
I learned so much from Africa: both about animals & about life. Being in a place so incredibly different from everything you know is an interesting experience. Coming home is a bit of mind-blower. It was as if we never left, I just eased back into my life. I realized that I have a pretty damn good life. I was aware of it before and am a firm believer in gratitude, but this was different. I understand even more how easy it is to slip into thinking about what you don't have instead what you DO have. I will be doing that less and less, and one day maybe, I'll forget entirely about what I don't have.
As we go to different places, the world gets incrementally larger and we get incrementally smaller. The things that bother and please me seem less significant in the grand scale. I am not saying that life is insignificant, it's just different in a worldview. We touched only a small part of Africa, but she touched us greatly......