Wednesday, February 29, 2012

South Africa 2012 - Day Eighteen

Day 18 - The journey home and final thoughts

Besides the first couple of days I had rarely been awake in time to see the sunrise but this morning I awoke and it seemed as though God had organized an amazing sunrise just to punctuate our last morning in Cape Town. As I lay in bed looking out of the open window I could see the growing light of dawn. A layer of orange sky lay sandwiched between a dark blue sky and the silhouette of the Stellenbosch mountains. There was the thin sliver of the Indian Ocean covered in a mist that separated the mountains from the sparkling lights of suburbs of Cape Town. As the sun rose the orange became more vibrant and the mountains became clearer before finally the sun broke over the mountains.

Before long we were all up and packed ready to go. Julian and Guy and their families were already long gone. And Dad had come over to help get us to the airport. One of the other great advantages of our Chevy Spark was that it was tiny with no trunk (boot) space. I think it was designed to only be used to pick up one bag of groceries. I still find it humorous that it actually had 180 km/h on the speedometer. There is absolutely no way that car could do 180 km/h even if you drove it off the edge of a cliff. But I digress ... We got to the airport in plenty of time to return the car, check in and then go through passport control and security. In general the security overseas is much more lax than in the States and so it seemed a breeze to go through. We did check in all of our suitcases and for the first time we didn’t have to move items around to make the weight restrictions. We were close with our large case weighing 22.6 kg with the restriction being 23 kg. We also did have our 4 ft long giraffe which we were told to carry on.

The first flight was our short one only lasting about 2 hours. We were all still a little tired and all tried to sleep. Hunter decided to lay his head down on the table to sleep and then did a massive head twitch throwing his head back. It was so violent he woke up and then told us he was dreaming about doing a back flip. The flight to Johannesburg was fairly short and was followed by a 5 hour layover in Johannesburg. We then boarded the flight to Washington via Dakar, Senegal. As we got on the plane the Bursar refused to let us carry on the giraffe. As much as I pleaded with him and explained that we had been told to carry it on he refused ti budge claiming it was policy. He also said that it would be treated like any other bag and they were not liable for any damage. I told him that this was ridiculous that he was the only person who was claiming it was policy, that he said they wouldn’t pay for any damage and that he wouldn’t give me any other option. The most infuriating part was that about 10 minutes later another passenger carried on a very similar package that contained a wooden statue and was probably 6-9 inches shorter than our giraffe. When I pointed this out to Moses, the Bursar, he checked out the statue and just allowed it. I think this was one of those cases which would have been called reverse racism in America.

Unfortunately Savannah had woken up with a tummy bug this morning and she struggled through the first couple of flights. The second and third flights were the long ones lasting 8 hours to Johannesburg and another 9 to Washington with an hour layover in Senegal. The majority of these flights were at night and so sleep seemed to be the natural thing to do but sleep was the hardest thing to get comfortable to do. When we arrived in Washington we were the first international flight of the day which meant we really had no wait. We cleared customs and immigration and then managed to get on an earlier flight which got us back to Houston at about the same time we would have been taking off from Washington and so we were all very happy.


This trip was a once in a life time experience for us as a family. There were so many firsts:

  • First time to Africa
  • Sky diving
  • Sand boarding
  • Cliff diving
  • Horseback riding on a beach for Savannah
  • Going on Safari
  • Swimming with penguins
  • Wine tasting
  • Visiting a Township
  • Taking over a school for the morning
  • Surfing

But amongst those firsts there was the familiarity of having my family with us. Every time I get together with them it never feels like

I have been away from them. I must admit Africa was a lot different than I was expecting with the exception of the Townships. The towns in general were much nicer than I was expecting, the countryside was much more spectacular and the people were just incredible. David and Kath at Constantia Lodge were much more like friends or family than proprietors of a bed and breakfast. The people every where you went seemed to have a smile on their face and were much more content with what they didn’t have versus us with all that we do have. I hope one day I will be able to return and if the right opportunity came up and would have no problem living there.

This brings to a close another trip for me.

Numbers 6:24-26 - The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.

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