Monday, December 12, 2011

The Last Weekend & See You Later!

Saying farewell again...I think my final blog post from the first 6 months in South Africa describes much of what I still feel now that I'm back in the Prairies.  I would say, though, that a full year in the Eastern Cape reminded me how no place in this world is perfect and your state of mind determines your happiness, regardless of where you are.  Still countless lessons, adventures and insights, but perhaps some of the shiny novelty of South Africa wore off and it became another spot to add to the long list of places I've lived.  Or more importantly, the places I've called home filled with people I love and this time is just as conflicting as I balance the wonderful feeling of being home with the roots that inevitably grew deeper in the Eastern Cape.  You can create a little nest wherever you go, but it can be tough to have a foot on two continents!

I wish I could make the claim that I was calm and composed the last weekend, but as these photos hint at, those last 48 hours alternated between laughing and sobbing. I don't know if it was a good or a bad thing that my last 3 weeks were wonderful; if it left me with amazing memories of love and gratitude or made it more painful to say farewell!

Group beauty effort
On Friday afternoon, the WSU Chiselhurst office held a surprise going away party for me - a totally unexpected surprise and my fragile emotions were not prepared.  Upon seeing the platters of food, cameras and expectant faces of people I've worked next to, I burst into uncontrollable tears and had to spend a few minutes in the bathroom to get myself together.  I felt very special that day and I'm still working on getting those photos!

Saturday, the last full day and night, involved spending the day with Sis Ghana and the entire Matolengwe family as we prepared Zintle for her Grade 7 farewell formal. All hands on deck to get her ready before the brand new white BMW rolled up to take her to the event and dazzle everyone there. 

Zintle - the final product

Gogo, Sis P, and Sis Ghana

Sunday was the inevitable trip to the airport where it became a matter of counting last minutes in East London versus weeks, days, hours. By the time everyone arrived, I was cutting it very close to getting on the plane but it wouldn't have been complete without a family photoshoot! I also wish I could make the claim that I am an attractive and gentle crier but my face, already completely swollen from the morning, had barely returned to its normal size and colour before these photos and goodbyes only triggered more serious waterworks and face swelling and knowing and sympathetic looks from airport staff and fellow passengers!

With the 12 person airport farewell from those I love most in the country, I hopped between pure excitement of being back in Canada to realising that the walk through the security gates to the boarding gates would be a final closing of this chapter.
My airport entourage - makes you feel pretty special and loved!