This post is dated out of order because it was a busy last couple of days with minimal internet but it’s too important to miss so read on 😊

I’m so grateful that we got to visit the rhino sanctuary on this trip. It’s a highlight on a growing list of favorites.

We had a long drive (10 hours) from Khama to Soweto, a suburb of Johannesburg where we stayed this night. Having to randomly stop in Botswana to sanitize our shoes and the truck tires is not uncommon. We stalled a bit crossing the order from Botswana into South Africa for the final leg of our trip due to a trucker not having proper paperwork for his vehicle. When this happens they will often confiscate the vehicle until the problem is rectified so the border looks like a massive used car/truck lot on any given day. The driver was spared today. We were glad to be going into SA and not the other way. There was no less than a mile of backed up traffic waiting to enter Botswana for the holiday.

We said “until next time” to Martjie and Jaimie when dropping them at the Menlyn Mall in Pretoria (second largest mall in the southern hemisphere) to begin holiday with their families. You learn a lot about one another after 15 days together in tight quarters and sometimes feral conditions. What a delight they are and wise beyond their years. I am a better person for knowing them, privileged to have shared time with them, and am excited to follow along as they navigate their young careers and next adventures!

Jaimie and Martjie in the mokoro. I’m going to miss them!

Arriving at Vhavenda Guest House in Soweto we settled in then walked to dinner under a beautiful double rainbow toward Sakhumzi Restaurant on the famous Villa Kazi Street for a final meal with our crew. Desmond Tutu’s house is on the corner. This eatery serves a traditional South African buffet of yellow rice, beef stew, salad, potato salad, spinach sauté, polenta, green beans with dressing and herbs. The dessert bar included traditional malva pudding, vanilla/jello pudding, and ice creams.

Double rainbow to welcome us to Soweto
Vhavenda guest house
Desmond Tutu’s home

As luck would have it, this was also the eve of the World Cup Finals between France and Argentina and the streets and restaurant were throbbing with music and fan energy. There’s also this thing in South Africa called load shedding where the government shuts off the electricity for several hours a day, sometimes on schedule, sometimes randomly “to save electricity” even though SA supplies electricity to five other countries and none of them have load shedding. Anyway, whoever thought it was a good idea to load shed on World Cup final night nearly started a riot. The TVs shut off and people (mostly the men) moved to the place across the street with a better generator to finish the game. At one point, I was doling some dessert onto my plate and three men ran into the room screaming. I screamed from being startled and quickly realized they were sprinting to the bar for fresh beers because Argentina had scored a third goal. I kept screaming because apparently it was the thing to do and I fit right in. Haha. Wild thing I am, living on the edge. Our driver and chef are HUGE soccer fans and poor Shadrack could hardly contain himself at the table when the TVs went dark so we gave him permission to go watch the game in the street and he was gone faster than I could put a period on this sentence. Gotta love people with deep passions.

Buffet at the restaurant- traditional South Africa recipes! Delish

Back at the guest house, our elderly housekeeper, Mama Coco, (calling a woman Ma or Mama is a sign of respect) was waiting for her taxi home so I struck up conversation. Hers has not been an easy road. Early in life, she lost three of her four siblings, lost two of her own four children, and then a husband in 2008. She has had to work to support herself since. Typically, one of her two sons would work and take care of her, especially as she ages, but for reasons I didn’t ask, she supports them, getting up at 4am daily, working 12 hours a day for the guest house, commuting two hours a day, and getting home at 7:30. She says she is tired (you think?!) and worries what will happen when she is no longer able to work. Her hardships and concerns are etched into her beautiful caramel face.

Tomorrow is my last day in Africa. I learned so much from every single person on this trip. What a gift that’s been in itself. I hope I’ve offered something in return too.

So much has happened: new friends, new places, new me. Old dreams became realities, old wonders became memories, old doubts became confidence, old questions became answers, old fears dissipated, old armor softened.

Personal growth is a lifelong journey but if feels amazing to see progress.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: