Travel Journals

Grace... and tequila shots

"There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy."
-Robert Louis Stevenson

It’s amazing what comes to pass when you allow yourself to have no plan...

I am wrapping up 3 days out in the woods at the Fairy Knowe Backpackers in Wilderness, South Africa. There are lots of birds and flowers here and a whole array of wiener dogs crashed out in various patches of sunlight.

I spent 9 days out on the west coast in a little fishing village called Paternoster ("our Father") and with an ironic twist was there for the 5-year anniversary of when Dad passed away. The owner of the little cottage loft where I stayed, a gruff ogre-looking man with a heart of sweetness, seemed to have made it his personal mission to promote my career as a world famous photographer. I’d shown him the Afghanistan presentation, the teen pregnancy movie, and some other assorted travel images, and he made me pull out my laptop every time anyone came to the house.

In addition to meeting a superbly talented potter who I would love to showcase somehow in Seattle, Francois introduced me to the renowned South African writer Etienne Van Heerden who owns a house across the lane, and the owner of the adventure company Outback Africa. The latter has led to a photographic opportunity to join a camping safari to Mozambique, Malawi, Botswana, and Zimbabwe, and the trip leaves on September 30th for 3 weeks. I’m very excited!

Upon returning to Capetown, I met up again with a friend who was house-sitting outside of Stellenbosch in a 100-year old farmhouse amid lupine fields and ostriches and grazing cattle. It was a lovely blend of alone time (with Pip the cat and Licorice, the black sausage dog) and camaraderie with Astrid, a creative and insightful gal originally from Mauritius.

Another highlight was returning to the Hector Peterson school in the Wallacedene Township for a day to teach napkin folding to Johanna’s hospitality students. It was such a kick for me, and an absolute treat to see the students again from the Bridges to Understanding program last month. I think they’re wondering if I will ever go home to the States!

Astrid and I took a road trip down to Cape Agulas, the southernmost tip of Africa, and we climbed the lighthouse and took the requisite photo at the monument where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. It was a glorious day, and she left me in another beautiful coastal village called Arniston. There were so many whales rolling and playing and dancing in the surf just offshore, and I watched a mother and baby for hours.

There have been some good hiking opportunities recently. I hiked out through the powder white sand dunes at low tide to a fantastic cave. Along the way I found all kinds of spiral shells, and I was so glad that I braved what had otherwise looked like an ominous, rain-specked morning. (I did play the odds a bit leaving my laundry out on the line... but I’ll do almost anything to continue on my way with a backpack full of clean socks! : )

I’ve bought a Baz Bus ticket, which allows me to jump on and off at a whole list of places between here and Johannesburg. My time constraint now is getting to Jo-burg by September 30th for the Mozambique trip, so I’m trying to be mindful of the destinations I most want to see.

Wonderful people and opportunities are continuing to surface, though perhaps having just finally seen the films "The Secret" and "What the Bleep do we Know," perhaps I am noticing the synchronicities more frequently than ever.

It was kind of a kick to be the only one in a backpacker’s place like I was in Swellendam, alone with a fire, music playing, and two open bottles of tequila with a basket of lemons! Not a bad way to spend an evening and contemplate this ongoing journey we call life.

Sending all good wishes to each of you in the stitching together of blessings, passions, and opportunity...