Here we come to a close on our South African trip. As I mentioned in the last post, we were able to meet up with Jeremy and Delani after they got home from their honeymoon, and end our trip with some relaxing and fun family time.
We started off with a lovely lunch at our favorite spot in Ladybrand, "Living Life" cafe...
Robert had never experienced a real South African farm braai, so the Van de Merwes were good enough to host one so that he could see what all the amazing talk is about.
It really doesn't get any better than that!
If you know Delani at all, you know that she absolutely loves presents and hates waiting... so you can imagine her delight in getting to open some late wedding presents! :)
We enjoyed a delicious farm breakfast at a neat roadside cafe called "The Cabin"
Introducing the new Mr. & Mrs. :) Aren't they a classy pair!
While we were there, we got to help them with their new/old farmhouse. They will be moving into an amazing old farmhouse as soon as they do some repairs and renovations. This house is very special because my family used to visit the lady that lived in it when we were kids. I remember playing in the yard, picking apricots from Ouma Stella's trees, and having tea in the living room. I'm so happy that they get to live in this amazing house. I didn't get pictures of the whole house but just a few snapshots of us working hard :) The floors had 50 year old carpet over gorgeous hard wood floors. We stripped the floors, and prepped the walls for painting. I was so glad to be part of this renovation in a small way. We Howards have a thing for house projects and we all pitch in and help each other. It just wouldn't have been the same if I hadn't had a small part in their house project :) Despite the absolute frigid cold temperatures inside, we were able to get a good head start on the house...
Delani in her farmhouse kitchen (in need of a lot of TLC)
Her pantry that will look amazing very soon!
Ladies hard at work...
When I was posting, I laughed at how we stood identical for both pictures and didn't even plan it! :)
Back at their temporary apartment... Robert and Jeremy trying to get a fire going. It usually took about 30 minutes to start that little thing started but once it got going, it roared with the best of them.
Because of the flash, you can't really tell but the electricity went out one night, so we huddled around the fire and had candles lit. We heated water on the stove and took turns taking quick baths while heating more water for the next person. It took me back to times as a kid when we had to electricity and played games next to a kerosine lantern. Good times...
The next morning it even snowed for a few minutes!
Before heading back to work on the house some more, we built up our strength with a good farm breakfast from "Living Life" (see, I told you it was our favorite spot!) :)
I truly believe God is a master painter... the sky is His masterpiece.
There is a tradition on the farm that when it rains, you eat pancakes (more like our crepes) so we settled in for a delicious dinner of both savory and sweet pancakes.
We packed up and left the next morning bound for Johannesburg. We flew out at 5:00pm so we made the 5 hour trip at a leisurely pace and had time to relax and enjoy a lunch together at Mugg & Bean in the airport. It was such an amazing time with Jeremy and Delani and I wouldn't trade those few days for anything! While we obviously loved being at the wedding (of course), spending time just hanging out together was such a treat. Sitting on the farm drinking coffee, working on the house, sitting at their kitchen table... all these and more helped make up a memorable time with family.
Thanks, Jeremy and Delani, for everything! We love you both and are so excited for this new chapter in your lives! Congratulations on your new life together. Love you!
Our flight from Johannesburg was delayed an hour and we only had a 2 hour layover in Hong Kong so we were a little worried it would mess us up. We talked to the flight attendant and she called the airport but said she wasn't sure if they could do anything. We were just praying we wouldn't have to spend the night in the airport... When we disembarked the plane, a small and friendly airport worker was waiting with our names on a paper. He very hurriedly led us through the airport (no seriously... his small size did not slow him down!) and to our check-in booth where we quickly checked in for our next flight. He then took us through the staff and crew security line and then to our next gate. At the gate we were met by another airport worker who radioed the plane of our arrival. We got on the plane sweaty and hot from all the running and stress... but we were on the plane and that's all that mattered. I have had one other experience similar to this where an employee was running through the airport with me, telling the plane to wait (also, incidentally in Asia). All in all, it was one of the most organized and well handled delay situations I have been in. We were worried that with the delay, our bags wouldn't quite make it... we were right, but again I must say it was very well handled. At the baggage claim, a box with our name on it told us our bags did not arrive and to go to the help desk. Everything was handled professionally and with extreme care.
We were so fortunate to catch the last bus to Gimcheon from the airport, and with no baggage except carry-ons, the trip was going quite well! The bus ride from Incheon to Gimcheon is a 3 hour ride and they always make a scheduled stop at a rest stop an hour from Gimcheon. The lights were off in the bus, many were sleeping, and others were preparing to get off the bus for a quick bathroom break and snack before finishing out the trip. Suddenly we heard a loud crunching sound, glass falling, and girls screaming. While it was extremely startling, turns out, the bus driver sideswiped a large truck's mirror and broke several panels of the bus' windows. Everything and everyone else was ok, but because of insurance issues, etc. the bus could not continue on the trip. There were we, after an almost 24 hour trip, exhausted and (I will admit) a tad cranky, we waited at the stop for another hour and a half while more buses came our way and picked up a few passengers at a time.
Remember how I said we got the last bus to Gimcheon? Yea, that was still true. So, we finally boarded a bus headed towards Gumi which is the town closest to Gimcheon. From there we got a taxi to Gimcheon. It was past midnight and we had absolutely no cash on us so thankfully we found a taxi that took cards. After a W40,000 (basically $40) taxi ride, we were home. Now it sounds like I'm complaining a lot about all this and, granted it wasn't exactly how I thought the trip would go, but I will say that the whole losing-luggage thing actually turned out to be a blessing. With the bus and taxi situation, it was such a relief to only have two small carry on bags to worry about and on top of that, our bags were delivered the next day free of charge. I think that's the way swanky people travel anyway, so I we just moved up in society :) (well, that's what I'm going to say anyway)
All in all, the trip was AMAZING!!!! I can't begin to tell all the awesome stories and memories that were made on this trip. It was definitely a trip of a lifetime and being able to see and spend quality time with family was honestly the highlight!
People take all the little times for granted until they move thousands of miles away... so if you can, take time to really enjoy that lunch date with mom or cup of coffee with dad.
You can't even imagine how many times I wish I could call up my parents or siblings and sit and enjoy time with them. It makes the times we do spend together, that much more special...
And that is the end of our South African Adventure Summer 2012