Alas, my African sojourn has come to an end. My last few days on the Dark Continent were spent on the beautiful Kwazulu-Natal coast of South Africa north of Durban in an opulent beach house owned by Anne’s sister-in-law who lives in Capetown.
We knocked around there for three days, filling up only a tiny bit of the large residence (“Which living room should we sit in this evening?”) and enjoying sun bathing by the pool and daily forays to the beach.
What a journey from my simple lifestyle for six months at Sega school in Tanzania to my busy month working on the Girls Negotiation project in Zambia, followed by the varied tourist adventures of the past few weeks in Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia, with a final exit point of total luxury in South Africa. My head is spinning!
While at Zinkwaze beach, I admired the Zulu baskets that were part of the home’s décor along with the lovely paintings by Anne’s late father in law, all of which appealed to my interest in art collecting and interior design. I wanted to buy an open Zulu basket to display the ostrich eggs I’d brought from Namibia but the place to buy them, Ilala Weavers, was a two hour drive north of where we were staying and this amount of excess driving didn’t fit with our focus on relaxation. Anne even spent some time in the hammock de-stressing from the excess excitement we’d had in Namibia.
We mostly cooked for ourselves as Zinkwaze is a residential beach community with little commercial activity, especially at this time of year when most of the homes are empty, waiting for their owners to visit during school holidays over Christmas. The majority of the human activity in the area is the multitude of African hired help who protect and care for these vacation homes and are evident walking and biking to or from the home in their care.
After Zinkwaze, I flew to Montreal to attend Kelsey’s graduation from McGill. I had a house exchange banked from a few years ago so my dad, Gail, and I lived in comfort in a lovely Montreal home in the leafy neighborhood of Westmount. It was cold and rainy at first which was a bit of a shock after so much African sunshine over the past several months and I was woefully underprepared, especially in the footwear department as I had only sandals and a pair of running shoes. Luckily, I was able to borrow one of Kelsey’s roommate’s Hunter boots, a life saver.
Kelsey graduated this afternoon. Congratulations Kels! It was a beautiful, sunny day and the graduation was an efficient, well-oiled event that lasted exactly two hours. Afterwards, we hosted a party here at our nice exchange home for Kelsey, two other graduating girls, their families and many of Kelsey’s friends. It was fun to meet everyone and celebrate such a happy event.
Kelsey returns to Berkeley in a few days to start studying for the MCAT’s in August. In October, she is off to the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, VA to intern with Dr. John Garrett, a heart surgeon, for eight months before applying to medical school next summer. It’s fun to finish the blog this way since it started when I dropped Fraser off for his first year at Drexel University in Philadelphia and it’s ending with Kelsey’s graduation from McGill – nice symmetry!
There is the possibility that I will go back to Africa soon as the folks running the Girls Negotiation project in Zambia have asked if I would return to manage it through to completion, which would be at least until the end of this year and possibly through the middle of next year, but I’ve made no decision. I’m just very happy that the time I had in Africa over the past eight months was rewarding and interesting, the people I met were warm and welcoming, and that I come away with a knowledge of new places, an awareness of different cultures, the experience of two wonderful projects, and several new friends.
Thanks for reading the blog and I look forward to seeing you soon!