Best Thanksgiving Yet!

Although I am not in Nebraska celebrating the Thanksgiving Day with turkey and stuffing, the Macy’s Day Parade, some football, and my Grandma and Uncle, I am fortunate that I am able to spend it with my family.  My family arrived late Monday night and it was quite the reunion.  If you don’t know, I am a huge family person (I love them!!) so being away from them for more than six months was definitely not the easiest thing today!  Luckily we had Skype, Facebook, and email to keep in touch but it is certainly not the same as being physically present of course!  So, on Monday night I made my way to the Cape Town International Airport to pick up my family before heading to the hotel for the night!

We had a very short night as we got to the hotel around one in the morning and were up and on the road at six, just five hours later… but we have a lot to do and see in South Africa in a short amount of time!  Day one of the adventure took us just a few hours outside of Cape Town for a full day of safari activities.  We arrived, had an amazing breakfast, and then were off on our first activity which was a horse-back safari.  It was relaxing, especially for the few of us who were still a bit jetlagged and had no sense of what time it should really be!  We were able to visit an ostrich farm just a few kilometers away which was actually really neat!  We learned all about them, got to pet them, got to feed them, and even got to sit on them!  I think my parents, who haven’t really done any traveling outside of North America before, were beginning to get the sense that they are no longer at home.  We headed back to the safari place and we got to visit their conservation area where they had rescued three lions, two cheetahs (who were just purring away… oh so cute… I have to make sure that my mother does not try to smuggle one home), a few warthog, some alligators, and even a jaguar.  Then we made our way back to lunch, checked into the room, and enjoyed some downtime… which I spent soaking up some sun by the pool.  Our rooms were incredible—private and bungalow like with an outdoor shower and even a hot tub… the kids even got their own room!  We gathered for our next activity which was our afternoon game drive.  We had a very successful drive and got to see elephants, buffalo, rhino, lions, wildebeest (our guide also referred to these guys as spare parts as they have a bit of everything in them… they look like a bit of a mess and not quite sure what animal they wanted to be), eland, springbok, hippos, and many, many more.  The most exciting part was probably when we got charged by a buffalo… literally.  We were just hanging out in the vehicle looking at these buffalo and all of a sudden one of the males was lingering behind the vehicle.  All of a sudden he ran towards the vehicle so we took off but not before he ran alongside the jeep (wow, they are fast) and he tried to use his horn to attack—he successfully scratched up the back of the vehicle and even took out the taillight… I am just glad I was safe in the vehicle, away from this unhappy guy!  We enjoyed watching the sunset out in the bush before heading back for dinner… the service was incredible and all food was included with the stay, so it reminded us a bit of our cruising adventures… but it was a wonderful, perfect day… and a great welcome to Africa!

Yesterday, we headed along the Garden Route towards Port Elizabeth.  Because we have such limited time, we are really in a bind to get everything done so we had to do the entire route EXTREMELY fast!  We headed down out of the Karoo area, through the mountains where we met up with the N2, the national road that runs between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.  In total, it was about eight hours of driving, but we got to see the beautiful scenery and make a few pit stops of course along the way.  We enjoyed lunch in Knysna before we walked around the Waterfront for a bit.  We even got the chance to head up to the Knysna heads so they could see the incredible views!  Unfortunately the weather wasn’t the best as it was pretty overcast but it’s something we can’t control and we just had to make the best of it… plus despite the crappy weather, the scenery was still absolutely beautiful!  We continued to our next stop… the world’s largest bungee jump.  Well, I was completely unaware that my parents have never actually bungeed jumped before… shocker to me!  Well, this was all about to change!  We harnessed up and headed out to the platform at our scheduled time and we were ready for some adrenaline!  My parents were just a little uneasy about the situation but my brother, just as I was, was completely ready and had the attitude of bring it on… sometimes we’re a bit too similar!  Anyways, everyone went and everyone walked away completely unharmed!  Because I jumped at this particular place in early-July, I was able to do a back dive off the platform… so of course I did!  The feeling was a little bit different and it definitely messed with your brain as I did a 270-degree flip initially before I flipped back 90-degrees into a dive position.  But, wow what an experience!  My mom and I, both of whom jumped last, weren’t so lucky and actually had to jump in the rain… but it was a unique experience to say the least as we were falling much faster than the raindrops… so cool!  After our jumping experience, we continued onto Port Elizabeth.  We had to find a hotel as we weren’t one-hundred percent sure that we would make it to Port Elizabeth (but we did… and actually made great time!!), and we came upon this unique, little farm-like place.  The rooms are actually old horse stalls that had been converted into very nice rooms… but definitely a one-of-a-kind place (and horse themed… what not to love, right!).  We ran into town for dinner then headed straight to bed as we were quite exhausted!

Thursday was of course Thanksgiving and as I said, this was the first time ever that we had spent away from home for the holiday.  But although we were away from America celebrating the day, at least we were all able to be together as a family which is most important anyways!  We began our day at a lion park which was incredible.  We drove through a game park area before making our way to see the lions—how cool!  We even got to see six-week-old cubs and interact/play with six month and ten month cubs!  The rest of the family (and myself) really, really enjoyed it!  We even got to see baby Siberian Tigers.  Then we made our way to African Dawn, where I volunteered in late June and early July.  It was neat showing them around and telling them what I did and all.  They even got to meet Indie, the cute, little (but much bigger than I was there as a volunteer) cheetah!  I think that made our their day as my mom has said the entire time that she was coming to Africa first to see Indie and second to see me… thanks Mom!  Anyways, we continued our way back to Cape Town, stopping at Jeffrey’s bay, a little surfing town, along the way.  Surprisingly, we made it the entire journey back to Cape Town that night and were able to settle into our gorgeous hotel room that overlooks the ocean!

Well, we are all loving our time so far here in South Africa and I couldn’t be happier to share my temporary home with my family and show them around!

~Susan

I happen to think my family is pretty awesome… 🙂  Right before the big bungee!

Adrenaline Rush 🙂

Lion, Lion, Lion

 

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