2.0.1.3.

My last post was almost 3 months ago, partway through my Australia trip. Unfortunately, my blogging skills fell by the wayside since then. I completely forgot to recap my rainy but awesome week in Melbourne. The city is all about cool, culture and coffee.  Luckily for me, it also involved visits with my good friend who was studying there and a road trip along the Great Ocean Road. We were able to see the 12 Apostles and koalas in the wild! Spotting (aka screaming so loud I scared my wonderful friend who was driving on the left for the first time) my first bundle of grey fur high in the tree tops was such a thrill. I had a perma-grin for about an hour.

After Melbourne, I flew back to Sydney and then to Vancouver where I spent a week catching up with friends and finishing up my final presentation from my international service learning trip to Swaziland. By mid-October, I was “home” (wherever that really is these days) back in Toronto where I have been ever since.

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January – April: 

The year started off with me working two jobs and taking an online course. Needless to say, I was busy! During the day, I got to experience my dream job, working as a Youth Programming Intern with Free The Children. The whole thing came together really fast during my Dec 2012 finals and started on Jan 2. I met some of the most committed, generous and friendly people who taught me so much both in and out of work. My four months at FTC were a wonderful opportunity that included multiple trips to Seattle and the chance to meet some of my idols (Hi Craig!). I really look forward to rejoining the FTC family in the not-so-distant future.

We Day

Team Washington taking charge at Seattle We Day!

At the same time, I was still busy as a residence advisor at UBC. So every morning I would leave campus around 7:30am and return by 6:00pm spending my evenings and weekends with my floor & community. Despite my co-op schedule, I was still able to organize some fun events for my residents and stay really involved with our residence musical, 9 to 5!

Hamsley

Hamsley ❤

May:

May was a big transition month for me. I literally spent each weekend in a different city (5 cities, 4 countries!). I lived on my own, with my own kitchen, for the first time. I attended classes in the Psychology of International Development to prepare for my trip to Swaziland. And I got to spend a long weekend at home with my family after finishing my last trip to Seattle with FTC and before my week in London that proceeded my journey to South Africa/Swaziland.

June – August:

I spent the summer of 2013 in Mbabane, Swaziland volunteering in program coordination for SOS Children’s Villages. I lived and worked with the wonderful Ale and we had many highs (trips to SA, chicken wraps, movies, Kruger, certain workshops) and lows (the cold, waiting for transit, overly affectionate men and other workshops….). During our time with SOS we learned a lot about working across cultural borders and adapting our psychological background to development work. We also got to experience some amazing adventures from daily life with our host family to special events like Bush Fire and a traditional Swazi wedding/bull slaughtering. We also managed to fit in some awesome trips to Malelane (where we saw a lioness in Kruger Park!), Cape Town (the best birthday weekend ever), Johannesburg (visiting the Apartheid Museum on Nelson Mandela’s birthday) and Durban (for our final week of sun and fun).

lioness

One of the highlights of our night drive through Kruger Park

horseback riding

Taking our host brother horseback riding!

cape point

Cape Point, Cape Town, South Africa

hbd madiba

Happy Birthday Madiba! Such a privilege to witness some of your work. Rest in peace.

Durban

Beautiful Durban 🙂

September:

I spent about 2 weeks back in Toronto; which was just enough time to wave hello to friends/family, unpack my bags and repack them again for Australia! On Sept 10 I started the long journey to Sydney, Australia (checking the 6th continent off my list). I spent the first two weeks dog-sitting in the small town of Yamba on Australia’s east coast. It was a quiet town but a nice introduction to Australia and a fun opportunity to live alone, take care of the beautiful Molly and appreciate some gorgeous Australian scenery.

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Molly taking a dip in our local river

October:

After my stay in Yamba, I transitioned to the big city of Sydney. I had a full schedule for Sydney and was able to fit in everything (Blue Mountains, Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Koala Sanctuary, Fleet Review, beach time) except running into Prince Harry. Sydney was amazing and definitely a city I can see myself returning to and settling down in (for a little while). After Sydney, I flew to Melbourne for my last week in Australia. Melbourne was more laid back and more rainy, but it also offered a more cool-city vibe. Plus it had the added bonus of being temporary home to my good friend Malindi – who showed me around a bit. Highlights of Melbourne include discovering the hidden shops/restaurant-filled alleys, walking around the botanical gardens and our amazing Great Ocean Road road trip! After Australia, I spent a crazy (and jet-lagged) week in Vancouver catching up with a few friends and working with Ale to present our final piece on our Swaziland trip.

wild koala

Spotted! Koala in the wild!

fireworks opera house

Fireworks over the Opera House!

November:

By November, I was back and settled into Toronto life. I was still getting through my 4 online courses and I had begun working (seasonal job at Bath & Body Works as well as tutoring a friend of my brother’s in French). It was a bit of a transition being home. I haven’t been home for 3 months straight in the last four years. It was odd trying to fit back into a routine of going between my parents’ houses and adapting to new schedules, new people (both of my parents “adopted” cousins) and being a 21 year old back home. I have loved being able to spend so much time with family and friends, but it’s definitely a very different life than what I was used to in Vancouver, Swaziland or Australia.

Halloween shenanigans

Halloween shenanigans in St Catherines

December: 

This last month has been a little crazy. I had exams in all four of my classes that kind of snuck up on me (and also had to be written in the far away land of Markham) as well as more shifts at work and lots of holiday prep. Both of my parents ended up hosting Christmas gatherings so there were lots of presents to buy and wrap, decor to hang and food to prep. Christmas is my favourite time of year (evident by my 400+ song Christmas playlist) and I always refuse to go away for the holidays, regardless of how cold Toronto might be. I love getting together with everyone and my extended family results in multiple festive meals ranging from Dec 21 to Jan 4.

Christmas with PRALM

Merry Christmas from freezing (literally, see #icestorm2013) Toronto!

Looking back on 2013:

This was the year I worked my first 9 to 5 (actually 8:30 – 5) and got to do that work at a company I absolutely love. It was the end of my time as a residence advisor at UBC. It was the year I had an opportunity to live by myself and cook for myself! In 2013 I was able to cross two more continents off my list and visit multiple amazing cities all over the world. It was the year I had the experience of long term development work and life in a foreign country. I got to travel with a group, with a friend and solo. I turned 21! I “swam” with sharks. I fed kangaroos. I watched Macklemore perform in his hometown. I spent time in 4 continents, 6 countries, 10+ cities and far too many hours inside a plane.

Coming up in 2014:

Looking ahead to 2014 (aka tomorrow!), I’m starting to get excited for the things that are coming up. I leave Toronto on Jan 22 (hopefully with a full license!) and start my European adventures with a 5 day stopover in Iceland. After that I head to Amsterdam for my semester abroad at UvA. I’m excited (and nervous) to get back into the swing of school in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language and don’t know a soul. I’m already planning lots of European travels for long weekends throughout my 5 months at UvA. I’m hoping some family and friends from North America will also be able to come over and join me. After the semester finishes in June, I’ll have a bit of summer to either continue around Europe or return home to catch up with friends and family. By Aug/Sept I plan to be back in Vancouver to finish up my last few credits at UBC and possibly rejoin the rezlife family.

So 2014 will pretty much be split between Amsterdam/Europe and Vancouver, with bits of Toronto thrown in. I’m excited to explore new countries/cities throughout Europe and take on a new school and new life in Amsterdam. But I’m also excited to return to Vancouver (it will be more than a year since I last lived there by the time I return), my second home, and a place I can definitely see myself settling down in. But after 2014, my life becomes a bit of a mystery. The current plan is to graduate by May 2015 the latest, and then the future is a bit of a question mark….which is scary! But also, exciting! I’ve got a few ideas but nothing set in stone. Hopefully 2014 will turn some of those ideas into something a little more concrete.

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Very thankful for all of the love, learning and adventure in my 2013. Looking back, it’s so obvious that I had an incredible, blessed and global year. Can’t wait to bring these experiences and make new memories in 2014. Happy New Year!

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Siyabonga, See You Later & ‘Ello!

Over the last month I’ve stepped foot in 5 countries (4 continents), chalked up almost 50 hours in the air (possibly more in airports) and have finally made it to my next adventure: Australia!

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We left Swaziland on August 19th and boarded a bus for the longest ride of our lives (close to 12 hours) to Durban, South Africa.  The next week in Durban was fairly blissful.  We walked along the beach, visited cool markets, met up with friends, went to a South African braii, got our haircut, took part in amateur shark cage diving, went surfing (I just watched) and enjoyed some delicious seafood, hotel breakfasts and Indian cuisine.  There were a few hiccups, including a mouse-finding adventure in our hotel room, but overall it was an amazing week and a perfect end to our African experience.  Before we left for Durban, we were working really hard to finish everything for our project at our placement.  After finishing our final workshops, binders and reports, we had a last hurrah with our host family, went horseback riding, and savoured our very last chicken wrap an hour before the bus left.

From Durban I flew to Joburg, to London, to Vancouver and, finally, to Toronto.  Very exhausted, I collapsed into two weeks of visiting friends and family, celebrating birthdays, sending my sister off to university, helping mom pack and move to our condo and trying to get everything sorted out with my UBC online courses and upcoming trip to Australia.  On September 10th, I boarded my flight (with an extremely light and well-packed luggage, I might add).  Final destination: Yamba, Australia!

I landed in Sydney and took a connecting flight to the Gold Coast.  Once there, Anne picked me up and drove me to her home in Yamba.  Yamba is a small town on Australia’s east coast.  It’s known for fishing, golfing and tons of beaches, lakes and green space.  I arranged to spend my first two weeks in Australia house and dog-sitting in Yamba.  While Anne and her husband Paul are off in New Zealand, I’m hanging out with their collie, Molly, and settling into Aussie life.

Aussie life has been pretty relaxing so far.  I spent the first few days getting to know Molly and touring around Yamba.  I got to walk Molly along the dog beach and explore the “town” (approximately 2 blocks of shops) before Anne took me to the local golf course to see….KANGAROOS!

The roos were amazing! As soon as we walked onto the course, I started snapping away.  But we were able to get so close without the kangaroos moving at all.  At first we came across 4 of them grazing by the 8th hole.  They barely looked up; the kangaroos could care less about some over-excited Canadian hiding behind her camera.  And then we noticed a mama with a baby in her pouch. It was the cutest thing! And those pouches really stretch; there was one joey trying to jump in who I didn’t think would fit.  After a few more minutes, the roos hopped on and we took it as our cue to head out.

Since then it’s been relaxing and rainy.  I’ve enjoyed spending time with Molly and having the house to myself.  I even managed to make a pretty delicious pasta featuring the famous Yamba prawns.  Looking forward to getting ahead on these online courses, taking a river cruise, chilling by the beach and spotting some more kangaroos! 

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Author’s note: I intended to include some photos with this post but my super slow super unreliable internet is not having it.  So just imagine a cute baby kangaroo, beautiful white sandy beach and adorable puppy!

“…you don’t need a holiday, you need Cape Town.”

There are a few places in the world (given my very limited tour of it so far) that I can’t wait to return to and set up house one day.  Vancouver, with an insanely overpriced studio in Kits where I will miraculously be able to see the mountains and the beach; London, where my main goals will be seeing everything that is playing in the West End and spotting members of the royal family; and new to the list: Cape Town!

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Ale and I decided to take a long belated birthday weekend to Cape Town, South Africa.  Our original plan was to trek over to Maputo but after a long wait at the visa office (6+hours) and a re-assessment of what we want to see/do, we decided on Cape Town.

On Thursday we woke bright and early to catch a 5 hour bus into JoBurg. From there we checked in to a private room at an airport hostel and spent the afternoon in the city. To be honest, Johannesburg doesn’t wow me. Granted, we spent maybe 5 hours there but it felt ugly and overpriced.

The Apartheid Museum

The Apartheid Museum

I did, however, enjoy our visit to the Apartheid Museum.  It was (the only thing) on my Joburg to-do list and it was pretty exciting that we got to go on Mandela’s birthday! Ale and I spent a few hours roaming through the museum. I was most shocked by how archaic the ideas of apartheid were but how recent the dates actually are. The photos of the townships, ceiling covered in nooses (to represent the deaths/suicides that took place in the jails), the solitary confinement cells and the videos were the most impactful parts for me.  I’m really glad I had the opportunity to learn a lot more about South Africa’s history.

On Friday morning we took 2 hour flights into Cape Town! Once there, we made our way through the rain and overpriced taxi to our hotel/apartment accommodation in Sea Point.  The weather was pretty miserable and Ale had a cold so we took it easy that morning and enjoyed nice hot showers in our new place.

Our hotel in Sea Point

Our hotel in Sea Point

In the afternoon, we headed over to the V&A Waterfront: a combination of Fisherman’s Wharf & Granville Island.  We walked through the Victoria Mall (HUGE mall) and got our first taste of seafood at the Cape Town Fish Market. After a delicious lunch of salmon, veggies & fish cakes, we walked along the pier and stumbled in to the Craft Market.

The view from V&A Waterfront

The view from V&A Waterfront

BIG MISTAKE (for our wallets!): the Craft Market was amazing and we pretty much spent the rest of the day there! We discovered lots of cool finds and managed to cross a lot of people off of our souvenir list. We also walked next door to the Food Market so we could PIMP OUR BISCUITS! (Basically we spent $5 to bake a dozen cookies – but it was fun and delicious!). After emptying our wallets, we traipsed back through the mall and met Trevor (aka Papa Trevor aka best-cab-driver-ever!) who took us back to Sea Point. We spent a low-key Friday night enjoying Asian take-away and catching up on some bad movies.

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Our cookies! I made one in the shape of the letter R because I'm creative like that :)

Our cookies! I made one in the shape of the letter R because I’m creative like that 🙂

On Saturday, Trevor picked us up after breakfast and we started the beautiful hour drive to Simons Town.  We basically drove through gorgeous green mountains with sea views the entire time.  Trevor even stopped at the top of one mountain for us to get out and take pictures.  Plus he took the time to narrate our drive and point out beaches, the hospital of the first heart transplant and Mandela’s old house!

Driving to Simons Town

Driving to Simons Town

We arrived at the Aqua Terra hotel in Simons Town and were stunned. It was GORGEOUS! Seriously, I took so many photos of the house (not to mention the view) for my future decorating plans. I may even look into buying the house from the owners if when I am rich enough.

Admiring the coastal views

Admiring the coastal views

After a cup of tea, we walked along the coast of Simons Town to Boulders Beach. It was a bit of a hike, made even longer by our need to stop every dozen feet to take photos and exclaim to each other how insanely beautiful everything was. I think I beamed for the entire half hour walk. I can already picture retiring here!

Enjoying the coast of Simons Town

Enjoying the coast of Simons Town

At Boulders Beach we finally found all the people tourists (the rest of Simons Town was pretty deserted) headed towards the penguins! Boulders Beach is famous for its colony of African penguins and we were not disappointed! The funny little penguins entertained us for a couple of hours: waddling along the shore, sunbathing, dipping into the ocean and even delighting us with some kisses and hand-holding. You don’t realize you’re a penguin-fanatic until you spot your first tuxedo-bird awkwardly making his way up the beach.

PENGUINS!

PENGUINS!

Smooching sea birds!

Smooching sea birds!

After spending some time with our new penguin friends, we had to un-cramp our jaw muscles (too much smiling will do that to you) and fill our stomachs with a late lunch. We enjoyed pizza, pasta and the yummiest dessert (baked red velvet pudding!) at a cute Parisian place in town.  Unfortunately, Simons Town is pretty dead by 5 so we had another early night relaxing in paradise.

Enjoying seafood pasta in Simons Town

Enjoying seafood pasta in Simons Town

In the morning, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast and sat out on the patio to take in the views. I had woken a little early and enjoyed the sunrise over the water from the window behind our bathtub. It felt other-wordly.  We spent some time chatting with our hosts and playing with the hotel’s cat & dog while we waited for Trevor.

Sunrise from our bathtub!

Sunrise from our bathtub!

Unfortunately, our plans for shark-cage diving kind of fell through (we agreed to try again when we both make it to Australia) but we did want to get out to Cape Point.  It’s bragged about as the Southern most part of the world where the two oceans meet (lies on both counts but still impressive).  Trevor drove us through the national park to the base of Cape Point where we took a funicular and some stairs to the very top.

As clichéd as it is, the views literally left us speechless. We just kept smiling at each other, searching for adjectives that we knew couldn’t begin to justify what we were seeing.  The Atlantic Ocean was every gorgeous shade of blue crashing on the shore while the Indian was a foggy expanse of muted greys calmly meeting as a giant ripple effect at the tip of the mountain.  It was hard to get ourselves down from there.

Atlantic Ocean

Atlantic Ocean

Indian Ocean

Indian Ocean

After spending even more money at the gift shop and picking up pizzas for lunch, Trevor drove us down to Cape of Good Hope where we were able to stand on the rocky beach, take in the crashing waves against the rocks (a la Little Mermaid when she emerges from the water) and document our journey to the most south-western point of Africa.  On our way back to the city we spotted an ostrich (though none of the promised baboons), picked up a hitch-hiking elderly couple and fit in a nice nap.

Us & Papa Trevor at Cape of Good Hope!

Us & Papa Trevor at Cape of Good Hope!

On Sunday evening we checked into our last hotel and I promptly fell in love again. It was the perfect bachelor apartment: spacious, beautifully decorated and modern. I think I may have freaked Ale out with how many photos I took. If I could just pick that place up and move it to Vancouver, that would be perfect.  Unfortunately, by the time we got back into Cape Town proper, most of the attractions (notably, Table Mountain) were closed. We checked our emails and ended up heading back to the Waterfront.

My future apartment!

My future apartment!

Luckily, Waterfront was still pretty lively for a Sunday night. We walked around the mall and explored all the cool shops before settling at Willoughby & Co. for a dinner of fancy seafood. We enjoyed yummy wine, a fish trio, chicken teriyaki and paella.  By 10 we were headed back home with a bag of groceries for late-night dessert and home-cooked breakfast.  We ended the night with chocolate and a Gossip Girl rerun on TV.

Seafood & wine!

Seafood & wine!

Monday morning we enjoyed our last CT meal and hot shower before Trevor brought us back to the airport. We got a little sad having to say goodbye to Papa Trevor! But we drowned our sorrows in two huge pieces of cake before our flight into Joburg.  We made it just as our bus was pulling in.

A long 5-6 hours later (including a crazy border line up) and we were back in Mbabane.  It was late so we headed to Nando’s for a last meal of chicken & ice cream before cabbing home.  Our room felt different (noticeably cleaner) and we spent the evening unpacking, reminiscing and ooo-ing over our full memory cards from a very memorable weekend.

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Cape Town – I’ll definitely be back.

Workshop Weekend: 3 days in Malelane

This past weekend we took Friday off work and made our way to Malelane, South Africa for an in-session workshop with UBC students from Swaziland and Phalaborwa.  I went into the weekend with extremely low expectations.  We were explicitly told there wouldn’t be time for fun so I was preparing myself for mind-numbing hours of reflecting and discussing theory with a hot shower as the only possible salvation.  Turns out the hot shower (though amazing), was far from the best part of my weekend.

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We got to the Rio Vista Lodge on Friday afternoon, after a strange trip over the border and a flat tire, and went out to the Deck Restaurant to meet the other students from SA and our supervisor, Tamara.  The restaurant looks right into Kruger National Park with a landscape of beautiful trees, hills and water.  The first thing I noticed were elephants off in the distance.  Instantly, I was in a better mood (elephants seem to have this effect on me) and was even more surprised when Maricel spotted a hippo hiding in the grass a few metres from the restaurant.

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Courtney and I shared this lovely room

We went into our first workshop session where each team took turns presenting their work project, host family and experience thus far.  It was cool to hear more about how Marie and Courtney are doing at their SOS Village in Siteki and really interesting to hear from the 5 business students working in Phalaborwa.  We broke for dinner and it was so delicious!  It wasn’t terribly traditional but it was nice to get a break from Swazi food for a little bit and be able to decide what I wanted to eat instead of being surprised with a plate overflowing with beans and rice. 

After dinner we were given an assignment to write about a critical event.  It was helpful to get the event out on paper and really force myself to think through something.  We wrapped the workshop for the night and got to know each other a little better over card games and drinks.  My body was pretty shocked not to be going to bed at my usual 9:00pm.

Saturday started with a lovely buffet breakfast, including the scrambled eggs with cheese that Alejandra and I have been dreaming about.  Needless to say, my plate was filled with those and I stayed far away from my usual options of bread or cereal.  We started off our workshop by defining and presenting some buzzwords and then got into the Articulated Inquiry.  Tamara had us all find topics that we were struggling with and fill out a worksheet to better define the problem and dream up a solution.  We got to go sit around the property to work.  I sat on a nice shady bench behind a palm tree with Kruger right in front of me.  I’m sure the setting must have had something to do with how much I got out of that first worksheet; I wrote a lot and really delved into a topic that challenged me. 

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Ale and I enjoying the view

After another delicious meal, we broke into interview groups to learn more about each other’s topics.  Once those were finished, we all sat outside together and had our topics presented back to the group.  It was interesting hearing my topic based on what someone else heard and without being able to clarify anything.  It was a very vulnerable place but I was so impressed to hear all of the tough topics our group chose to personally grapple with and publically reveal.  During the presentations, Tamara interrupted to point out a herd of elephants grazing just behind us.  It was like something out of a movie.  There were about a dozen elephants just on the other side of the fence; including a couple of little babies! We all bounded over and pulled out our phones and cameras to capture the moment. 

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ELEPHANTS!!!!

Our workshop ended early on Saturday so Ale, Maricel, Jerod, Shawn and I decided to go on a night drive through Kruger Park.  Ale and I had been trying to plan a weekend to Kruger but it was looking pretty expensive and pretty far away. So when we found out Saturday’s session would end around 4, I quickly arranged with the front desk for a three hour night drive through the park.

The initial drive over to Kruger was very windy.  We were all getting hit in the face with bugs and who knows what else but we continued giggling all the way there from sheer excitement.  We joined a larger safari truck and set off into the park just as the sun was setting.  Within the first 10 minutes, our guide, Patrick, spotted a leopard!  I hadn’t noticed a single thing but sure enough a small, speedy cat walked out from behind the tree.  I barely got a photo in before he was gone; even walking, leopards are pretty quick. 

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Our first animal sighting in Kruger

Next we came across some elephants just a few metres from the road.  I was really lucky that the big one eating was right next to my side.  Unfortunately, my camera isn’t the best, so I don’t think my photos do him justice but it was kind of incredible just to sink into my seat and stare at him.  He seemed completely un-phased by the flashes (probably because elephants have terrible eyesight) and just continued eating and doing his thing.  Throughout the rest of the drive we came across a big herd of elephants in the bush, a mom and baby grazing and two young ones fighting.  It got to the point that our driver wouldn’t even stop, we had seen so many.  He did, however, pull over for us to see a rabbit…

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The three hour drive was very cold.  Ale and I huddled under the blanket they thankfully provided for us.  Patrick had explained that viewing animals was all about luck and for a while it seemed like we were pretty unlucky until Patrick got a call and took off speeding into the distance.  The guy behind us, a veteran game drive passenger, knew guides only sped for one thing: lions.

Sure enough we pulled up next to another truck to see a lone lioness walking down the road.  Ale and I were giddy; we’ve been talking about wanting to see a lion forever!  We stayed with the lioness for quite a long time while she hid in the bush, swerved along the road and ate some grass under a tree.  She looked so powerful and natural.  I love that the animals in Kruger don’t seem to be affected by the cars or cameras.  Unlike the sedentary animals at the zoo, they are active and free to wander.  Luckily, they let us gawk at them while they go about their business.

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The best part of the drive was when we pulled over on a bridge overlooking a stream.  Patrick let us all out and instructed us to turn off all of our lights and be quiet.  It was pitch black and the only noise was the running water underneath us.  Looking up, we were treated to the most spectacular and unbelievable night sky.  Filled with so many bright stars, it felt as if someone had plugged fibre-optic lights into a dome just for us.  A sky like that just doesn’t exist at home.  I was smiling so hard and getting neck cramps from looking up, it was just that beautiful. 

After a very cold ride back to our hotel, we sat down for a late night dinner and rejoined the rest of our group.  Tamara took us into town to use the ATM and then we all hung out for a bit before another fun night of drinks and games. 

On our last morning in Malelane, I made sure to savour the incredibly hot and powerful shower (even better than my shower back at home and leagues ahead of the bucket I’m using here) and enjoy my last plate of eggs.  We moved into our session and completed worksheets on the dream and design phase of our topic.  Once complete, we all sat outside and shared our provocative proposition and action plan with the group.  Tamara made us stand up to present; after all a bold statement can’t be made sitting down.  It was kind of liberating to have had the time to work through and plan a response to my challenge and then share the potential positive outcome with the group.  Everyone had taken the assignment seriously and really pushed themselves to work through some tough stuff.  We closed with some reflections on the weekend including keeping up this motivation throughout the rest of our time in southern Africa.

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An elephant came by to see us off during our last meal in Malelane

After lunch we took a family photo before saying our goodbyes and loading back into our car for Swaziland.  I felt strangely connected to these people who I had only met a few days ago.  We spent a lot of time together and it really felt like we had all learned something and shared this experience with each other.  I think it was really important for us to have this weekend workshop.  It was an amazing opportunity to take a break and step out of the experience to remember why I wanted to come in the first place and what I need to work on to realize those goals. Before, I found myself forgetting the bigger picture and slipping into a routine of complaining and complacency; the past three days really changed that.  More than the wonderful shower, yummy food and awesome game drive, this weekend was about recharging with new friends, new realizations and renewed motivation for the rest of my adventure.