We were less than 48 hours away from and ready for our great adventure to South Africa.
In many ways we were well prepared.
As nervous as I was a year ago about all the details of the trip, almost every one of them turned out exactly as planned or better.....giving credence to the notion that planning pays off.
We had prepared the kids as best we could, as best as one can prepare a person for a new experience that will be so vastly different from anything they have ever done.
In many other ways, ways we could not have really predicted, we were not ready.
Mostly in emotional ways.
I was unprepared for the flood of tears and the deep sense of relief I felt at my first glimpse of Table Mountain through the airplane window on descent into Cape Town.
I so carefully thought through those first few hours on the ground.
Knowing we would be travel weary after 36 hours en route and jet lagged and 8 hours before we could check in to our accommodation, I had a plan. I wanted to avoid as much stress as possible, I wanted a breathtaking moment.
I really prayed for those few hours.
We touched down in perfect weather. A small blip as the car we rented didn't work out but we were soon on our way.
And in just a few minutes we pulled over and into a parking lot - ripped off our runners and rolled up our pants and stepped onto the soft white sand of Africa....South Africa....and across the bay as clear as day was the iconic Table Mountain.
No longer a google image, or a postcard or someone elses photo....we stood there and WE saw it....We were there!
It's hard to describe what was going on in our hearts and minds. I took the photo of a pensive Lindsay (top right) and I recently asked her what she was thinking and feeling at that moment...she was quiet for a while and then she said "I don't really know".
I get that. It was so much to take in. Even now as I type this my throat is tight and my eyes are full.
I think those first few hours defined our trip in so many ways.
We ate well (and so cheaply thanks to the Rand Dollar exchange)
We were so hot (thank goodness we has our summer clothes readily accessible)
We talked to family (that day by phone but soon in person)
We saw breathtaking views, big ocean, mountains, beaches.....
We were adventurer's together....we had time together
We were exhausted...these sorts of trips are incredible and amazing but tiring and Allan and Lindsay were sick a couple times.
We were "home" but not "home" .... a concept that became well settled for me but unsettled for others.
We were welcomed...warmly.....everywhere we went...
We renewed and reconnected with family and friends....and we remain so deeply grateful for the love we were shown, the time people gave us, the hospitality, the generosity....
Family is family forever and connections run deep, cousins connected, the Byres Clan so beautifully together.
Friends are the family you get to choose and wow are we so lucky to have so many wonderful ones in SA.
We fulfilled so many dreams - we rode elephants, surfed with Great Whites, watched penguins be penguins, stood on the very tip of Africa, rode Ostriches, cuddled Lemurs and cheetah babies, learned Zulu dancing, sang Asimbonanga over and over again, encountered the history of South Africa in new ways, walked mountain paths and long flat beaches....
I can't say for sure what exactly happened in each of our hearts but this I know.... it changed us... there was healing, there was confusion, there was joy and excitement, there was identification and connection.
I wish it wasn't so far away.....I wish we could do it again....but I am grateful beyond words we had that 4 weeks in the Beloved Country.
Until we meet again.....
God bless Africa,
Guard her people,
Guide her leaders,
And give her peace.Trevor Huddleston