The bittersweet return.
After 22 hours of flying, 3 trips to Portillos and many wonderful hot showers I'm finally ready to write the final entry in the Africa travel blog.
What a trip. To sound like the cheeseball writer that I am, it was a magical three months on the road and I will never forget the places we visited, people we met and experiences we had while cruising from Nairobi to Cape Town. Unfortunately, as it happens with many great things in life, its already starting to feel like a million years ago and the memories are beginning to take on that haze that comes with time. I'm grateful to the blog if only because it forced me to document the trip as it happened and will remain the best possible souvenier we could have given ourselves.
Alright - enough of the sentimental blabber. Lets wrap this puppy up.
As you know, one of our last nights was to be spent at Casa de Skanky near Jeffery's Bay in South Africa. Jeffery's Bay, if I didn't mention it before, is located on the ocean and is, oddly enough, the South African Surf Mecca. What's odder to me is that Skanky doesn't surf. Go figure. Anyway, the farm itself is set back from the ocean and is nestled in the hilltops with a view of the sea.
I'm not exactly sure what I expected from the farm - maybe a sprawling red barn with hardwood floors and cute curtains - a chicken coop or a horse stall near by. Some kind of cross between "Little House on the Praire" and The Barn of Barrington. I completely neglected to remember that his family doesn't run a B&B out of the joint. Its actually just a normal house attached to acres and acres of land. The only thing that might seperate it from a house you'd find here is the 10-12 heads of wild game that adorn every bit of wall space in their living room. And the bushbok that roam on the hillside with the sheep. And the incredibly large kitchen that Mrs. Skanky's Mom uses to cook her delicious homemade pies, cakes and cookies. Mmmmm. I liked it here.
One thing I have to hand to Skank is that he's a great host. And his family shares the Van De Walle motto of keeping guests happy "Just Keep Feeding Them". We ate like kings. We also got to experience the inner workings of a functioning farm (complete with 5am wake-up when the workers fired up the tractors outside). A real treat was piling in the back of Skank's pick-up to see where he and his girlfriend may open a guesthouse someday on the farm. With a bit of vision you can imagine a cozy lodge with a fab view of the ocean amidst rolling green hills. I'm not sure if my vision was the same as their vision (assuming their vision includes wild game heads) but if it does I'd officially like to sign up as the first guest.
To be honest, we were expecting to wake up the next morning hung over from a night of drinking with Skank and his pals around a bonfire. Fortunately for sleepy Col and I the Skankster was out late the night before and needed some recovery so we had a relatively chill night. Our evening was contained to watching South African soaps with his grandma and chatting with his mom in the kitchen as she whipped up 200 meat pies. Supposedly the last friend of Skankys that came to visit stayed for two months so I think it was refreshing to his mom that we were only in for a night. Never-the-less I ended up with an entire carry-on bag of her tastey biscuits to bring home. All in all it was a great way to cap off our time in South Africa.
Our official last day was spent at Addo Elephant Park. The park is filled with (shocker) elephants and on the last night of our trip we were surrounded by 30 or so at a watering hole. The moon was coming up full opposite a brilliant sunset of red and pink and the elephants were quietly walking past our car. It was a fitting African farewell. The next morning we headed to Port Elizabeth to begin our long journey home.
And now, sitting at home on this chilly spring morning, I'm left asking myself what did we learn from this experience? I'm not really sure if we know just yet. Sure, there are obvious things ...like never order nachos in Africa no matter how tempting it may sound (a lesson I refused to learn). But the impact this trip has had on the bigger picture of our lives may not reveal itself right away. What we can say for certain is that it HAS impacted our lives. At the core we are different people then we were when we left three months ago. Luckily for both of us I think its different in a good way.
So thank you to all the folks we met along the way and for our new and old friends who joined us - you added to the magic of the experience. A big thank you to the Ozars for an incredible time and an unforgettable experience in Meru. And a shout out to James, Annie and Skanky for getting us from the top to the bottom in one piece. We'd also like to thank our employers for recognizing the importance of this trip and giving us the time to take it and our family and friends at home who encouraged and supported the dream. And last but not least, thank you, loyal blog reader, for taking this virtual journey with us. Until our next big adventure - safari njema!
Mar and Col