Saturday, 18 January 2014

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time, a little girl named Lauren moved to Canada with her beautiful family.  She met a Canadian girl named Ally and together they formed a magical bond.  After a few short years they were separated, as Lauren returned to South Africa.  Ally was heartbroken.  She dreamt about her dear friend and of one day visiting South Africa.  Ally's parents didn't think it would fit into the plans, but fate had another agenda.  After four years of separation, a beautiful reunion took place, as the Mitchells headed to South Africa.

The girls together, along with their families, visited the Addo Elephant Reserve in the +42 degree weather.  The animals were absolutely amazing; elephant, warthog, zebra, ostrich, birds of prey, a snake being eaten by a hawk, monkey, fox, and various buck.  It was an incredible safari in the blazing heat.  The girls were in awe as they snapped photos and cooled down with granadilla popsicles. 

They visited an ostrich farm where they learned about the birds, fed them by hand, had their pictures taken while perched on top, stood on the eggs, were in awe at Ally actually riding one like a horse and dined on scrumptious ostrich kabob, burgers and biltong.

The Mitchells were introduced to beautiful people, the African work ethic, and the life of domestic workers, nannies, and gardeners.  They were shocked to hear that the minimum wage was 1.00/hour.  Although there is such poverty, townships and squatter camps here, the people are so happy, welcoming and friendly.
Lidia, what an angel!
Lauren welcomed Meggie like another sister and the three girls explored stunning beaches and enjoyed glimpses of wildlife that lingered beneath the surface.

They travelled deep into the depths of the earth and discovered caverns, flow stones and old concert halls at the Cango Caves.  They were disappointed to see the vandalism that had occurred over the years, to the once awesome stalactites.

All were amazed at the spectacular beauty they saw as they travelled up the coast towards Cape Town.  The views from Chapman’s Peak, the sunsets, the Cape of Good Hope, and the waterfront were breathtaking.  Lauren and her family shared the magic of South Africa with the Mitchells.

They travelled out to Robben Island, where they met an ex political prisoner who was housed with the Late Nelson Mandela.  Mark piped the Dark Island and Amazing Grace on the shore. They remembered, reflected and were oh so grateful.

The two families travelled in one vehicle, set up camp in the pouring rain, had many braais (bbq's) over the open fire, ate like kings, queens and princesses and spent every moment they could, together.  

They took a journey up Table Mountain in the cable car where the winds blew and the clouds rolled in, enveloping the top of the mountain and the unsuspecting guests. 

The two families embarked on a treetop adventure, zip lining ninety meters above the forest floor where they saw chameleons, and a Knysna Loerie bird.  They laughed until they almost pee’d their pants and had the time of their lives.

As the girls stayed up later and later the evil call from their parents to wake up, boomed in the air.  Not one of them complained as Merrick, Lauren's older brother and his fiancé Taz, had just come home from another 30 hour shift at the hospital.  While their family members and guests explored the Western Cape and swung from the treetops, Taz and Merrick were busy performing surgeries and saving lives.  One will never forget their reply to the question, "how was your day?"  Taz answered and said, "Merrick cut off four limbs and I saved a baby who fell off the roof of a church".  The Canadians  enjoyed hearing about Taz and Merrick's first days at the hospital as medical officers, and were surprised at what their daily routines consisted of.

Merrick and Taz - they look pretty great after working 30 hours straight!
Sadly, all fairy tales must come to an end; however, all were determined to stretch out their final day together. Sand boarding at Jeffrey's Bay challenged them all, as the wind whipped the sand against their sun-kissed skin.  They were ravenous and headed home for yet another traditional South African Braai.        Nothing quite compares to the meals enjoyed in South Africa.

Ally and Lauren started a life long friendship at the age of seven that has allowed their parents to do the same.  Dreams do come true, and as the Mitchells prepare to say goodbye after sixteen days in the jewel of Africa, they were comforted that future reunion plans are well underway.  Perhaps, they will return in eleven months to celebrate Taz and Merrick's wedding!

Once upon a time there was a girl and her family who entered the lives of four Canadians; they touched their hearts, cried, laughed, loved and lived...happily ever after.

Until we meet again

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