When I visited Maui in 2007 I was so touched by the Haleakala volcano and the energy of the island that I cried when my plane took off to return home. Today I am filled with a similar experience of sadness, wonder, and anticipation as I depart the most beautiful city on earth, Cape Town, South Africa.
My 11 days in this magical place have completely captivated my spirit and nourished my soul. Everywhere I look I see beauty, majesty; nature in its rawness and splendor. My sadness in leaving is about my journey back to Malawi, my home for now, but a place of suffering, poverty, and blandness. Though my life there is enriched by my relationships and friendships, I have craved “civilization” as I know it.
For 11 days I savored fresh croissants, juicy burgers, gelato, fresh salads, and calamari direct from the sea. I slept with the windows unlocked and open, under a down duvet, listening to the Indian Ocean waves crashing in the distance. I delighted in running along the ocean in tight fitting Nike shorts with a tank top, my bare legs showing for the first time in 9 months and no one was staring. Well, maybe they were but not in the same way….I attended 2 AA meetings, my first since leaving the US in July, which I desperately longed for and thoroughly enjoyed. Wi-fi, cell service, and a rental car that didn’t rattle over every bump in the road. Wait, there were no bumps or pot holes!
Hiking alone up Table Mountain was challenging, invigorating, inspiring. The views from the top were unbelievably beautiful and impressive, overlooking the city as well as strands of white sand and turquoise water. I also fulfilled a life long dream of surfing, albeit short, as I crashed and burned on my first wave, suffering an open dislocation of my index finger requiring an ER visit.
I reconnected with Roy, a native Cape Towner who so graciously chauffeured me around, viewing Cape Town through the eyes of a native. He also served as my ambulance and braiied for me in the quaint cottage I rented by the beach. The 2 large ridgeback dogs and the elderly cat at the cottage provided me with the cuddling and connection with the animal world I am craving. We even stopped to take in the course walk at a 3 day event (equestrian) being staged in Noordhoek.
We journeyed up the wild coast , mesmerized by the landscape. Endless rolling hayfields undulating into the jagged mountains reaching skyward on all sides, their peaks encased in white fluffs of clouds under a deep blue sky. Cage diving with the great white sharks was thrilling and frigidly cold, even in a wet suit. Robben’s Island moved me to tears as I listened to the experiences of those housed with Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners during their quest for freedom from apartheid.
From the moment I arrived in this magical land, I was enthralled with the energy, the vibe, the beauty. I have felt my soul nourished and my spirit renewed. It was an experience of complete and utter joy!
For years I have prayed to be led to a place that feels like this. But really? 7850 miles from my home and family? It is a challenge for me now to return to Malawi and keep my wits about me, completing the service to my program and my students with dedication and the commitment they deserve. But I am ready…ready to investigate with all my heart, the opportunity to live and breathe in this energy, at least for an extended time, at some point in the near future.
As many of you know, I am impulsive by nature and practice. As a result, I have prayed a lot over the last few days for a sign that this desire, this longing that I feel is somehow right for me. Yesterday as I was returning from Robben Island I toured around the waterfront area, eating, shopping and just taking in the sights and sounds.
From a distance I noticed 2 massive red poodle sculptures lining the waterside. I smiled and commented to myself that Cabot and Jackson had decided to join me in Cape Town. I got the chills. Of course it was orchestrated by Hooper. It didn’t occur to me until today that perhaps that was the sign I was looking for. That my beloved poodles were there waiting for me!
Tomorrow I will return to my site in Mzuzu; to the hand laundering, boring food, gaping wounds, and yes, the sweetest of friends. I will be launching a very big project at the hospital to improve pain management so will be busily engaged in work and service. But not too busy to begin my investigation of what may be the next phase calling me.
My plan is still to return to Vermont in July after Kate and I travel for a few weeks following completion of both our PC service. While in VT I will have a chance to breathe, walk in the woods, visit with family and friends, and love all over Zoey. I also look forward to visiting Carrie in Austin and Tina, Lauren and the grandchildren. In Denver and Chicago.
I look forward to that time of discernment and I will do all I can to approach it with an open mind and heart. But really, I want to continue on to the next adventure, wherever that will take me. And I really hope it is back to Africa.