South Africa – Final Days

Final Days

July 1 – July 4

Before we went to sleep on June 30, Carla grabbed a picture of the skyline from our hotel room balcony
Sunset over the Atlantic ocean.

After a luxurious sleep, we awoke on the morning of July 1 then met Andrew and Henriët for breakfast at the hotel restaurant then took a long walk along the promenade. Our ride to the airport was punctual, as usual. Henriët’s cousin Erika Botma owns a travel agency Erika’s Travel and she did a terrific job organizing our travels. We didn’t have a single glitch and had wonderful tour guides. If you are planning a trip to South Africa I definitely recommend Erika.
Andrew and Henriët were on the same flight but drove themselves to the airport since they had a rental car. Jeanette was there to pick us up at the airport and took us to her house for a little visit. For dinner we went to a lovely little café where the owner and waitress knows Jeanette. It’s quite the hang out as Jeanette introduced us to many of her friends who were there.
After dinner we headed back to Adrian and Irien’s guest house. Monday July 2 would be our final full day in South Africa and we made the most of it. Our first stop was the Walter Sisulu National Botanic Garden. This is a beautiful park comprised of about 740 hectares of natural and landscaped vegetation. If I’ve done my calculation correctly, that is a little over a square mile. This is one of several botanical gardens in South Africa administered by SANBI, the South African Biodiversity Institute.

Entrance to the Botanical Gardens

One of the highlights of the park is a waterfall. My tendinitis was flaring up so Andrew and I hang back on a park bench while Henriët, Jeanette, and Carla hiked to the top.

Waterfall in the botanical garden. This has been my iPhone wallpaper for a while now

Henriët and Andrew went back to the car and brought back some blankets and a picnic hamper. We had a fantastic picnic and then lay down in the sun for a little nap. At least I slept a bit; my snoring may have kept the others awake. Johannesburg has beautiful winter weather. No way would we be picnicking and napping in a park in Portland in early January.

On the way back from the gardens we stopped by Ben and Andrie’s home. Ben is Henriét’s brother. We had tea and Andrew entertained their daughter Karla and son Marcus. In addition to working full time Ben is also attending school studying for a Master’s degree. Andrie is studying to become a teacher.

Then it was time to head home to Adrian and Irien’s who hosted yet another wonderful dinner for us.  We feasted on ham, beef, sweet potatoes, and creamed green beans. Heidre and Le Salle were there as well. We had a fantastic dessert. It was a cake-like dish with sweet cream poured over the top. Delicious.

We awoke on Tuesday July 3 to face our last day and long trip home. Andrew and I hung out at home while the girls (Carla, Jeanette, Henriët, and Irien) went out for a nice breakfast at Westover hotel up on a hill in JoBurg.

Henriët, Jeanette, and Carla enjoying breakfast with a view

The hotel pool; what a view. Imagine hanging out on the edge looking down the hill

The view across the valley from the hotel

Irien, Jeanette, Henriët, and Carla enjoying a final moment together at the entrance to the hotel
Andrew and Henriët took us to the airport Thompson-style (over 2 hours early). We bought a last few souvenirs, checked in for our flight and headed home. Thirty-three hours later Jeff picked us up at the Portland airport. We had a frantic rush to get through customs and immigration in Washington DC. We barely made our flight from Washington DC to Seattle. From Sea-Tac we had about an hour wait for our 20 passenger flight to PDX. We were nervous about that connection; because it left more than 24 hours after we checked in for our original flight we didn’t have reserved seats. But eventually we got on for the 30 minute flight home over Mount St. Helens. 
Carla brought home Henriët’s wedding gown and shoes , and got them cleaned in time for the August 4 Wedding reception at the McMennimans Crystal Ballroom in downtown Portland.
We had a truly wonderful time. We met friendly, lovely people, were warmly welcomed into Henriët’s family. I’ve wanted to see the Big Five on safari for most of my adult life but until a couple of years ago didn’t think I’d ever do it. 
If you are thinking of travelling to South Africa, I have two words of advice: “Do It””

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