Marvelous Moments

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Reading through my journal, 2014 has already brought so many wonderful new experiences.  Our time living abroad feels like life is on fast-forward,  so we really try to be present and feel thankful for these kinds of moments:

  • sampling new  Swazi and South African dishes: impala, pap, warthog, and ox tail
  • the moving, resonant, and harmonic voices of just six people attending an evening church service; their sound burst through the silence with gorgeous, powerful, a cappella song that filled the room
  • A hippo and crocodile cruise in St. Lucia’s iSimangaliso Wetland Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and sleeping under mosquito netting in a cabin that feels like you’re in the jungle
  • the concept of the lodge “honesty bar, ” where you drink what you like in an outside lounge area, write it down, and get charged when you check out
  • playing with our toddler in tidal pools formed by the  Indian Ocean, watching the joy of his daily discoveries, wonderment of life, and reminders to all of us to be child-like and PLAY
  • fragrant Victoria St. Market in Durban; a maze of beaded sandals, wooden carvings clothing, jewelry, painted ostrich eggs, and woven baskets
  • being treated like family at a coffee roaster in a litchi orchard in Salt Rock, South Africa, where they are “mad for a gorgeous cuppa”
  • the adrenaline rush and phenomenal views from a first micro flight over Ballito
  • Driving on highway R541 called “The Genesis Route,” tied to the origins of our planet and the idea that all humans share an African heritage. 3.5 billion-year-old rocks in Makhonjwa mountain range are amongst the most ancient in the world. (let that sink in for a second. Wow, right)?
  • Discovering Vetiver grass roots, which smell divine, and loving the beautiful nests into which the roots are woven
  • Visiting Jane Goodall’s Chimp Eden, a bit disappointed not to have time for a tour, but then heading back to the car and spotting a group of  giraffes (called a “tower,” which seems aptly named, as they do tower, and grandly so).  Just free roaming, wild and out in the open.  Stunning.

Take Me To the Kingdom!

“Ramsay, are you ready to go overseas?” my husband asks our 14 month old over speakerphone.

“We got an assignment?” (I practically scream this question with excitement into the phone).

“Where?! Where are we going?”

“Swaziland!”

(In case you need to look up the geography, as I did, here is a screen shot from Google Maps):

Swaziland, Google Maps, 2013-08-06 at 8.50.16 PMWe move this October, to the Kingdom of Swaziland; a monarchy in a country the size of New Jersey.  I’ve lived in the United Kingdom, but I have so much to learn about this African Kingdom.  Right now, this place sounds to me like something out of the Chronicles of Narnia, an exciting adventure!  I love the idea that Ramsay will know safari animals in their natural habitat. And to think he will be close to four years old when we leave Africa. And some of his first words will be in the language of Swati!

I can’t wait to blog from our new home, to capture impressions and share photos and see how our new country shapes us. Parts of it will be hard on the heart, too: Swaziland has one of the highest rates of HIV, which has left too many children orphaned, and there is much suffering from disease, hunger, and poverty. Peace Corps, USAID, Heart for Africa, and many charitable groups are active. We will learn how to get involved, too, in our new community.

I’ve heard the skies in Africa are amazing, and the stars shine as brightly as you’ve ever seen them.

I bought a Lonely Planet guide on South Africa yesterday. It seems like a tiny start, but one must start somewhere. There is much research, daydreaming, and planning to be done. And, oh, the emotions of leaving family and friends. It’s all exciting, overwhelming, and coming very, very quickly! Two more months!

Has anyone out there reading this been to Swaziland? Please share!

til next time,

Starry