Saturday, December 28, 2013

Exploring With Love

A long overdue blog post : Michael's Trip 

After a crazy, whirl-wind two weeks in the States in August, Michael flew back to Botswana with me to stay for a month and see my new life. We had separate flights to South Africa, but we were able to meet up in Johannesburg at the airport and fly the last leg to Botswana together. It was a huge relief to see him at the airport... it helped a lot with my transition back to Botswana. I had to say goodbye to friends and family - - but not quite everyone. At least his goodbye was delayed for another month. 

Upon arrival, we were just.... exhausted. I can't quite explain it. We got back to Gaborone and fell asleep at 4 PM. We didn't even move until the morning when we headed back to my village, and even getting up to get on a bus felt like a huge amount of effort. 

I was so happy to see home. So happy to hug & kiss my little ones and finally introduce Michael to all the people I love and care about here. I paraded him around the village, introducing him to more people than he could possibly remember. I showed him all the silly, mundane parts of my life - - like hand-washing clothes (something he was NOT fond of), cleaning the endless amounts of sand in my house, etc. We just took it easy, got lots of rest, played farkle, made plenty of delicious homemade meals, and enjoyed my quiet village life. 
introducing michael to my village life
After spending some time in my village, we packed our bags and prepared for a road trip we had been looking forward to for months. We took a bus to Johannesburg where we rented a car and the journey began... 

Our first stop was Lesotho. Lesotho is a small, landlocked country inside of South Africa. It's mountainous and a fave vacation destination among Peace Corps Volunteers. Having a rental car was very nice for me, as I'm used to being crammed into whatever form of public transportation is available. Our tiny matchbox car was great... but maybe not so great for the mountainous pass we had to endure on our way to the lodge. Two wheel drive wasn't the problem, it was the lack of clearance under our car that made us cringe. Regardless, we somehow made it to the lodge in one piece... and our car did too. 

We stayed at a lovely little place called Malealea Lodge. It was an adorable place to stay and the owners give a LOT back to the community, which of course makes my Peace Corps heart smile. We opted for two mini-adventures while staying in Lesotho : a pony ride to a waterfall and a hike to see rock paintings. I personally loved seeing elevation after living somewhere so flat! Although it was winter time and crops weren't in harvest, I was in love with the beauty of this country. They speak Sesotho there and it's very similar to Setswana spoken in Botswana, so it also made me happy to be able to pick up on a lot of what they were saying. 
After Lesotho, we headed out for our next destination: the garden route in South Africa. From Lesotho to Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa was quite the day of driving... but Michael handled it like a champ. (also - let's point out that he only scared me a few times while driving in countries that drive on the left side of the road. he did a far better job of driving than I think I would have done... well done sir). 

I may have been the happiest woman alive when I saw the ocean. WATER. Water, folks. I can't even explain. After all this time in the desert, water was just a delight. We checked into our backpackers, soaked up the lovely view of the beach, and headed out to meet up with one of his friends from back home. Randomly enough, Michael has a friend from CO that was living in Jeffrey's Bay volunteering with Christian Surfer's. We had dinner with her at a cute restaurant and I absolutely loved chatting with her about what she was doing there. 

She recommended that we stop at Tsitsikamma National Park & I'm so glad we did. The next day, we drove along the coast to Sedgefield, our next stop. The views were breathtaking. I feel a bit guilty that I got to enjoy it more than Michael since he was driving - - but we did stop along the way to soak it all in. We enjoyed some delicious meals, beer, and time playing at the beach. I really can't complain. :o) 
the garden route
Next up was Cape Town. Goodness, we crammed a lot in. Michael stuffed his face with sushi the first night & we had an early morning the next day. Somewhere along the line, I let Michael talk me into shark cage diving. It's something I doubt I ever would have done on my own... 

We arrived around 6 AM to take the boat out to what they call "seal island." It was chilly (don't forget it's winter) and the water was choppy, but Michael was determined. We saw the island covered with hundreds of seals & we spent some time in the early morning watching for sharks to attack. I was a little disappointed at first, but really, I doubt I would have gotten in the cage to dive if I saw a great white feast on a seal first. 

I made Michael wait for everyone else to dive first, mostly because it made me feel better to see them come out alive. The crew got us all fitted in wet suits and weight belts to weigh us down in the tank. I don't think I've ever felt more vulnerable. Oh hello, shark. I'm a rubbery, weighted down human... aka a fat, blubbery, rubbery, seal that you enjoy eating. Michael is stoked. I'm petrified. 

We were able to use respirators so we didn't have to come up for air. But goodness, Michael was down in the tank for quite a while before I was able to convince myself to be completely submerged. I had to fight all human instincts to get in the cage. But once I managed to get into the cage and anchor my feet, we had quite the show. Great white sharks are GIGANTIC. and terrifying. and slightly dumb looking... but that didn't fool me. My heart was racing as I sat in the cage next to the man I love, watching a shark that could eat us alive. It was insane. and wonderful. and I'm thankful Michael talked me into it. 
Cape Town 
After the morning shark shenanigans, we had a relatively normal day for tourists. We went down to the Cape of Good Hope, saw the African penguins, and headed back to Table Mountain to end our day. We took the cable car to the top, and the view from up there was just breathtaking. Exhausted, and feeling very alive, we had another sushi evening & and relaxed. 

The next day, we went to Robben Island & explored the area of Cape Town and near Lion's head. I enjoyed learning more about the history of apartheid in South Africa. Cape Town was good to us. We really enjoyed ourselves! 

We had a few more days back in Kang before we left for the weekend to go to Maun. I wanted to be sure that Michael saw some of the wildlife in Botswana, so we booked a day trip into Moremi Game Reserve. Animal viewing is always a hit or miss... but we got really lucky. He even got to see four slumbering lions after a feast - - complete with blood stains on their fur. It was just the two of us with a guide, so we had a very personal and informative day. I'm thankful we had such great animal sightings! 
Moremi Game Reserve 
After our trip up north, we had to get back to Kang, pack his bags and get ready to send him back to the states. It was a very busy couple of weeks... and the time really flew by! 
I was, of course, a flood of tears at the airport. Good-byes just never get any easier. But I am extremely thankful to have such a loving, supportive man in my life. He has really helped me through a lot of this experience and believe me when I say it hasn't been easy for either of us. He's a trooper. It was a fabulous month, exploring the world with the man I love. I love you MAC :o) 

Love & Light, 

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