As is only appropriate, within the first 6 days of our arrival to SA we went on a safari to take in the beauty of the Pilanesburg National Park and to ogle at all that is wild. Wow! It was as thrilling and gorgeous as I had imagined a safari to be. Seeing African animals in the wilds (of a game reserve, probably the closest they come to being free in SA these days) is scary, exciting and wonderful. They aren’t caged in small spaces and they aren’t fed by humans or rely on humans for anything. The animals are allowed their own herds, mating partners and territory and are free to live and die as they choose. I’m no animal activist but that sounds pretty all right to me.
After the 8 hour flight due south to the land of the RSA we arrived in the afternoon and were welcomed in by Leizl, Hendri and Zante. It was so nice to meet them after hearing so much about everyone from Sue and Andrew! They took us to ‘Adieu’ which is the volunteer and organizational centre for Joburg sponsored by the WCF (Williamsburg Christadelphian Fund) and home to the Scheepers and the Viljeons. We had a really nice dinner of pup and voughst all together chatting and getting to know who everyone was before we crashed out pretty early. The wall in the kitchen has pictures up of all the previous volunteers, awesome to see our family up there and lots of other friends from all over the world.
The border crossing from Israel to Jordan was surprisingly super easy. The taxi driver dropped us off on the Israeli side and we walked over the no mans land. Jono thought the area between Israel and Jordan would be a fantastical place to try and take a quick photo. The guy with the machine gun didn’t agree. I guess decisions like this come from the same part of Jonos brain that think it’s a good idea to pack fireworks into his checked-in plane luggage and drive a car that’s not his into a muddy slurry pool in the middle of nowhere (but that story comes later).
We were all sad to leave the beautiful Galilee area and the north of Israel. We took one last look at the Sea before we dragged our eyes away and headed south down towards the Dead Sea.
The airbnb apartment in Jerusalem was on the 5th floor and after a full day walking around it was nice to use the lift. But the lift was pretty slow and one of those old school ones where you open a door, get in, press the button, wait for 3 mins before a gate would fold close, then the door would shut and you could move. The lift was tiny; you were pushing it having 2 people in there, especially if you didn’t know each other very well. If you, while trying to maneuver yourself in the small small space got in the way of the gate it would open and you’d have to wait all over again. It was so annoying you’d usually just walk.
As we flew down the coastline of Israel and over the bright lights of Tel Aviv my heart could have burst with excitement! After a long day of flying from Portugal to Israel via Cologne with a random German airline we arrived in the promised land.
Once again the bus was easy, we arrived and checked into our airbnb room with our male model host “the winking Hugo” (which oddly Jono never saw). Cool room in a great part of town, literally across the road from the Bairro Alto!
Mum and dad have arrived!!! 🙂 🙂 It was so exciting to see them pull up at the house in Nett’s little red car. It’s crazy how as they hop out they look just as if they’ve come to visit us in Newie and it feels like it was only just a few weeks ago we saw them! Mum and dad have a month holiday here in the UK and we get to spend about 2 weeks with them. That night we had a lovely family dinner (one thing I do miss about being away), a catch up on all the goings on back home and travels and planned the next few days trip to Wales.
When you’ve been travelling for so long and have arrived at an innumerable amount of bus stations, ports, train stations, and airports with not a familiar face in sight it is exceedingly wonderful to walk through the doors to where your beloved aunty is waiting with a warm hug and a big smile! We had arrived in Manchester on the evening of the 30th of July ready for a full month of being spoiled by our family, lovely catch ups, beautiful road trips and good food, not to mention the ease of English speaking shopkeepers and drinkable tap water.
As you may be aware, I love mountains. I love the challenge of hiking to the summit, I love the wilderness and lack of people, I love staying out somewhere where the only way you can see it and experience it is to have hiked up on your own two feet and most of all I love the view from the top.