Africa part 1…

My Africa trip was incredible. I don’t know if incredible is the right word, but that is all I can come up with right now. It never really seemed real and was very real at the same time. Several times, I said to Rose, “I can’t believe we are actually here.” Never would I have imagined going. It is something I always wanted to do, but never thought would actually happen.

The flights were long. Uncomfortable. But completely worth it. The flight from Casper to Denver was very quick and uneventful. Denver to Washington DC was longer, but I watched Titanic. Then onto Africa. We made a stop in Accra, Ghana. That was a little over a 10 hour flight. We couldn’t get off the plane in Ghana but were able to stand up and stretch a little. My feet and ankles were getting swollen. I was trying to walk and stretch as much as I could. I was very thankful for an aisle seat for that reason. I was able to get up and go to the bathroom or walk and stretch whenever I wanted, without bothering the person sitting next to me. Rose, on the other hand, was not as fortunate. She was seated next to the window, next to a person who did not stand up. At all. Both long flights. I felt so bad for her! We made it to Johannesburg in one piece and that is all that matters! We were greeted at the airport in Joburg by Celia and Pieter. Lovely people. So grateful I got to meet them and spend a week exploring with them and learning from them. We waited around for Malcolm to come pick us up. He was the driver Rose hired for us to take us from the airport to the Amakoekoe – the beautiful place we were staying at before going up to Kruger. Malcolm had brought a trainee driver with him – Silas. While driving from the airport, Rose was asking a lot of questions. It turns out that Silas and Malcolm were raised as brothers. Malcolm’s family adopted Silas when his mother died. We got to the Amakoekoe and it was beautiful. The room was nice and the grounds were beautiful. So many beautiful and fragrant flowers! I couldn’t breathe in enough of the smells. We kept the terrace door to our room open whenever we were in our room and even when we were sleeping. The breeze would blow and the jasmine would come into our room. I wished I could bottle up the smells to bring them home with me. Our first full day of being in Johannesburg, we slept. We slept so late that housekeeping came a couple times trying to clean our room. We walked around the grounds so that our room could be cleaned. Then we rested some more. Rose ended up texting Malcolm to see if he could pick us up and take us to dinner. He said he couldn’t but Silas could. We asked Silas to join us for dinner and he accepted. He took us to a western themed restaurant. The food was good and the company was great. We talked Silas’ ear off and he was a trooper! We made plans for him to pick us up the next morning to do some sightseeing around Johannesburg. He took us to the Apartheid Museum. We spent about an hour and half there. When we bought our tickets, we were issued a “white” ticket or a “non white” ticket and that determined which entrance you used. It was definitely a weird feeling. After the museum, Silas took us to Soweto and Vilakazi street. The street where Nelson Mandela lived. There were street vendors up and down the whole street, along with people asking and wanting money from us. I was very thankful we had Silas with us. Ann, who was with us, got caught up in it and probably would’ve given away all of her money if Silas wasn’t there to tell people to go away. We also got to meet Silas and Malcolm’s dad, who is a Baptist pastor in Johannesburg. He is involved in several ministries, including feeding children at the Joe Slovo camp. It is basically a squatter camp, but the people aren’t called squatters. They are called informal settlers. We got to help them feed the children. The bus that had the food in it drove up and the children came running and lined up, single file, waiting for the food. It was incredible to see. As I passed out the hot dogs, nearly every child said thank you and looked so happy. We got to walk around the camp with two ladies, one works with Pastor Willie and the other lives there. We distributed newspapers that the church puts out. It was interesting listening to them and seeing the different people. It is definitely something I will never forget. Saturday was another rest day. Sunday we went to Ceila and Pieter’s house for tea and meeting our fellow congress goers! Then it was to bed early. We were being picked up at 4am to leave for Kruger! Rose and I could not sleep a wink that night. Maybe it was because of excitement, who knows? But that made for a very long and tiring trip up to Kruger. More to come…

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Africa part 1…

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