Sorry for the delay on posting the final post of our great African adventure. If you missed the previous post, have a quick read through to catch you up to speed for this installment.
So at the advisement of our lodge hosts, we packed our bags to be ready to fly at any moment. We planned to go out on another drive in the land cruiser to see some game hopefully, and I was praying hard that this will be our glimpse of the big 5 that we were so dying to see! Literally MOMENTS before stepping on to the land cruiser the phone rings with the Chief of Police on the other end saying to the lodge owners: The army is sending a chopper to come get your guests at the top of the main road in the next 15 minutes!
That’s when it hit me. It’s over. The opportunity gone. Done. I cannot tell you how disappointed I was that there was not going to be another chance for this to come right. And that’s when the tears came. I had been so strong through the whole ordeal, but I was done.
I know this might sound ridiculous that I was so upset over not getting to see animals, but this was so much more than that to me. It was deeply rooted in the desire for Mr. T. and I to experience a true African Safari and for us to share that experience, that “first” together. I had set high expectations for this part of our trip and it was now beyond my control that it was not going to happen. Wow. That’s a stretch for me. Knowing I couldn’t do anything to change the outcome. I always look for a solution of how we can make things work – even in crazy circumstances like floods! What a test of grace and patience.
We gathered on the main road and waited to be rescued. What a weird feeling that was. Here we were with the amazing sunshine beating down – everything looking so beautiful, but we were being airlifted to safety?!?! I think that’s why it felt so strange – I didn’t feel in any danger, but the fact was there was no access in or out….and as I had mentioned the food was running out!
Once at the main road we met up with 4 Danish guests from a neighbouring reserve who had been in safari tents which had been washed away by the torrents of water that rushed through. They unfortunately lost almost all their luggage. So all the luggage you see in the pictures is ours!
Mr. T. turned to me and said ” It kind of feels like we are refugees!”. Oh goodness. Never in a million years did I think we would need an army airlift out of the African bush!!
We also got to have a perspective of how huge the Kruger Park and neighbouring reserves are – as far as the eye could see there was bush. It was incredible. I must say I was scouring the bush from the air for a last glimpse of an elephant!! After a quick 10 minute ride courtesy of the South African Army, we touched down at a nearby Military base.
and after some confusion of who we were and where we had we come from (insert scary moments) we hopped on the van with the Danish guests on the way to a bed and breakfast – with no reservations (it’s now 5 pm and this was the only hope for the night!).
Mr. T. got us booked into their last room of the night and with God’s grace the B&B had a car rental on site – with one little car available for us in the morning! So with the usual African delays in the morning (read: the car had to go get the wheels balanced!) we were off headed back to Jo’burg, in a much smaller vehicle than we had came in!
I must say that through both cyclones God has protected us and given us a peace that passes understanding during a very confusing and unsettling experience. You’re in a different place, far from home and at the mercy of others looking out for your safety.
Reflections on the Rain
Reflecting on this from the warmth of my couch at home I can say I wanted everything to be so perfect. I wanted to take award winning pictures (lol) and have crazy lion-licking-toes stories. But isn’t that how we often want life to go? We want the sunshiny days, but please hold off on the floods, thanks! We’d rather not endure the rain if we can avoid it. We don’t want to be tested in our grace and patience, thanks very much, especially when I have elephants to see! Ahhh, but that’s exactly when the rain comes to come set us straight. That need to have everything go so perfect gets tested and how you react to it determines what you will learn from the moment.
It’s not about having the perfect moment or experience but growing our grace and practicing our patience. We make plans and dream of how it will all unfold and when it doesn’t it can be devastating. But I’ll tell you what the rain, literally and figuratively, has taught me.
It’s taught me to not let the failed expectation over shadow the whole experience – there were fantastic moments at the lodge, adventures Mr. T and I had that we couldn’t have had anywhere else. It’s taught me to wait for the rainbow after the rain. For us that came in the form of our free chopper ride to safety! Mr. T. did make a point when he said: “A chopper ride to see the glaciers on an Alaskan cruise is well over $600 a person!”
Sure, it didn’t go the way we wanted but Mr. T. and I got to exercise our grace in a bigger way and demonstrate patience with the wonderful people who took such great care of us.
Thankful for our safety,