We leave South Africa tomorrow.
I’m in the middle of packing and I just found a pack of peanuts from Turkish Airlines from my flight here. How can it be that a year and a half has gone by?
How in the world do I do this? How do I wrap up – summarize – do justice to – say goodbye?
It has been the most extraordinary 14 months of my life.
I feel like I will never be able to thank people enough: those here who enriched our experience and those back home who made this epic break-from-real life possible (they who watched our cats and took care of our house and with whom we Skyped each week.)
Right now I am a complete muddle of emotions, memories, hopes, anticipation, happiness and sadness.
Of course I am beyond excited to go home. To see my family and friends, to give countless hugs and cuddle my cats and get a new job and sleep in my own bed again.
But I am heart-sore (that wonderful term I learned here) at the thought of leaving. I cannot deny the empty, hollow place I feel in my chest at the thought of getting on that plane tomorrow. It is the price you pay, I guess, when you find a new place to call home.
This place has taken root. I have lived a different life here. I have come to know new parts of myself. I have learned to love new places, new foods and new people.
What will I do without my rusks and hot cross buns and boerewors and bobotie? (Clearly lots of culinary experimentation awaits in my Minnesota kitchen.)
What will I do when I long to feel the stillness of the Kgalagadi?
What will I do when I feel like making mince pies with Gill? Or tasting Anton’s sugar-bean potjiekos? Or hugging Auntie Angela and playing with baby Micah?
What happens in the freezing cold of a Minnesota December when I long to be in the pool – hot sunshine on me and the 150-pound Rottweiler doing laps?
I will miss Christmas crackers and staying up all night on New Year’s.
I will miss hearing a minimum of 4 languages (and 4 different kinds of English) every time I go to the mall.
I will miss the proteas and the fynbos and the sea – so much. The mountains – don’t get me started on the mountains. I love this country. From the arid Karoo to the wine lands to the rolling ocean to the mountains soaring everywhere you turn.
How do you say goodbye? To the people? The adventures?
In the time we’ve been here we’ve walked every inch of Cape Town’s Gardens and City Bowl neighborhoods. We’ve hiked, gone on many a road trip, been on an archeological dig, ziplined, ridden horses through the bush, gone on safari 5 times, beachcombed, and more importantly – most importantly of all – we’ve spent time with our friends, we’ve celebrated, eaten and laughed with beautiful people whilst here. We’ve made new family here. That is the greatest gift of all.
I return to Minnesota with all this in my heart. With these people, with this beautiful place. With new words; among my favorites: liefde, naatjie, potkie, laapie, bokkie, shame, plehzah (pleasure), ag!, dankie, lekker and a few choice swear words that I never learned to spell but which I relish saying with great vehemence.
I return with new poems and new writings that excite me. I return with a greater appreciation of what is important in life: love, adventures, family. I return with a South African family. I return with a 3rd home. First El Salvador, then Minnesota, now Cape Town.
I want to thank everyone who has read my musings and recipes and adventures. Deciding to blog during this journey was one of the best decisions I could have made. It has been wonderful to share all these experiences and tastes and places and people with you. I will continue to blog. I still have several trips that we’ve taken to write about and I’ll probably blog about the aforementioned culinary experimentations (and crafts and natural health and beauty and goodness knows what else.) I’ll write about all the things I’ve learned here and the things that have stayed with me, that will stay with me always.
I am so very, very sad to leave.
But nevertheless, I return, heart-full. With so much gratitude.