We Did It
It’s safe to say this will be my final blog from South Africa, unbelievable as that is.
It’s really hard to believe, even with some people from our group having already left early. I don’t know if it will actually hit me until I’m finally on the plane myself.
I have to say I’m thankful for my time here, but I’m thankful to be going home again. I’m thankful for the new friends I’ve made, and I’m thankful for the old friends who supported my coming here and are waiting for me to get back.
Since my last post, we had an AIFS dinner which was basically an overall goodbye. That really got to me. But it wasn’t until people started going home that I’ve been getting really depressed.
One of my first closest friends to leave early was Kristen, so on her last day we went to one of the free lunch concerts at the Konservitorium. It turned out to be a series of flutists, which made my day since that’s the instrument I play, and made me really want to get home and start practicing again. We went to Birdcage which is a cupcake place with giant and pretty cupcakes. My flatmate Lauren and I did a lot of window shopping after, and I got some more souvenirs out of the way.
A large group of us went wine tasting at four wineries on a beautiful sunny day, which we ended at Java, probably our favorite restaurant. We also tried out “5” recently which had amazing peanut butter and caramel milkshakes. I thought that the vanilla milkshakes were good here, but apparently ALL the milkshakes are delicious. Milkshakes at home are never going to compare. One of the “food” items I’m going to miss here.
We went to Strand and spent the day at the beach, which entailed taking the train – a first for me since being in South Africa. I’m not really a fan of the train at home, and I’d heard a few bad things about them here, but most of my friends had taken it before and there were seven of us so it was an adventure. It was a beautiful and perfect day for it, and I finally, actually swam on the other side of the Atlantic. It was too cold on Garden Route to do so (which, come to think of it that was the Indian ocean), and obviously I kayaked, but finally I got to play in the waves and swim quite a bit. The downfall to this is that I did it right after I had put sunscreen on. So I ended up a very burnt Breanna and the next three days consisted of having a hard time sleeping and barely leaving the flat as I recovered. But it was still a great day! And strangely enough we even saw jellyfish that washed up onshore. Sad, scary, but amazing to look at. The one was seriously bigger than my head!
Our final Saturday, Kelsey, Lauren and I spontaneously decided to go to Butterfly World. There weren’t just butterflies of course, but also spiders, scorpions, reptiles, birds, marmosets, more meerkats and a duiker, which is a small kind of antelope. In the final aviary room I spent a good ten minutes not being able to take pictures because one of the parrots decided it was his play toy. When he first landed on my shoulder I was really amused, but then he proceeded to climb down, try to eat my camera lense and all the buttons, and bit me when I finally tried to shoe him off. Kelsey got some pretty interesting photo and video out of that.
Sunday, I finally went out for what Katie and I had been calling “picture day” all semester. Katie wasn’t feeling well so she went out a different day, but I walked around with Charlie, Lauren, Kelsey and Mary. We took pictures of streets, buildings, and anything else to bottle up some final memories to take home. We went to a movie at the Pulp theater and went to Cubana after. It was Charlie’s last night here so we made the most of it.
Monday Katie, Kelsey, Lauren and I went to Giraffe House, which literally was the home of only one giraffe. But much to our surprise, we got to feed and pet her! There were also tons of other animals there, including springbok, zebras, more duikers, more meerkats and, wait for it… a bat eared fox! He was one of the cutest animals I’ve ever seen. There was also a reptile show that made me reminiscent of the time I spent volunteering with DNR Exotics, and I’m hoping to have time to go back to doing that; but after this trip I’m going to need to go back to working first!
As amazing as the Giraffe house was, my day was very sad, as Charlie left for his flight that evening. We said goodbye and saw him off, but instead of going to the final dinner at Java with the others afterwards, I just went back to my room and reflected. And I’ll be honest, I cried a good deal as it finally sank in. That’s three of the closest friends I have ever made in record time, during an amazing experience, going home. And the rest of us are soon to follow. You don’t go back to normal after a journey like this. But that’s okay. That’s the whole point of staying in another country.
Katie just recently came into my room and just hugged me and said “we did it.” And I had a jolt in my brain about how true it was, how it’s coming to a close, and had to refrain from crying again. We did do it. “It” being tons of amazing things. This whole experience. A new country. Another semester of college. Etc. And once more I have to tell you how much I could not have done this without her.
And with that, my internet goes off tomorrow and I will be spending the next three days trying to wrap my head around this being over, trying to contain my level of anticipation for getting home, and trying not to be too sad at the same time.
Have a happy Thanksgiving! I’ll be spending mine braaing (BBQ-ing) and saying a final farewell to South Africa.