7-4: Going Home

I woke at 4AM this morning and decided to stay awake, listening to the sounds of Africa and staring at the stars beyond the Mashatu tree that loomed above our campsite.The kitchen noises began an hour later, soon to be accompanied by the sounds of people showering and getting their luggage together.I’m just not ready for this adventure to be over. It’s almost scarey how much I wish I could stay. If someone walked up to me and said, “Heidi I have a job for you in Johannesburg” I’d say YES in a heartbeat. A heartbeat.

The drive to Johannesburg was long, but also lovely since I rode in Nic’s truck with Lesley and Mark in the back. We managed to get some nature on our way out of Mashatu, when two giraffe appeared conveniently to say good-bye.

A few hours later we stopped for lunch at a roadside burger joint for cheeseburgers and milkshakes.(“It’s tradition.”Said Nic)We also stopped at a curio store so Lesley could get a native African mask.The places we’ve stayed had no shops for buying trinkets or gifts, which means that my family is going to be neglected in the curio department.But I think they’ll survive.

All the vehicles met at the Jo’burg airport so we could collect our scuba gear from luggage storage.That’s a daunting subject.I’m sure my gear stinks to high heaven since the wet suit and neoprene were hardly dry when I packed up five days ago.And there’s little in this world that smells worse than salty scuba gear left to mildew.

I checked all my gross gear and filthy backpack with its equally filthy laundry into Lufthansa airlines – which means I don’t have to deal with it for another thirty-some-odd hours when I arrive in NYC.

Since I had three hours to spare, and since everyone else had already gone through security to their respective gates, I talked Nic and Davey into keeping me company at the bar where we ordered beers and talked and laughed. Phil and Ruta – two other travelers from NY – joined us and helped prolong my wonderful holiday with stories and additional rounds of drinks.

I ended up rushing to my gate at the last minute, full of Heineken, good-bye hugs and kisses, and a feeling of contentment that I haven’t had in years.