Monthly Archives: August 2011

Spider-free bathrooms and a lack of morning Coffee

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I arrived back in Cape Town last Thursday – tired from two weeks in Namibia – becoming accustomed to a new type of life, a new world, new types of people. You’d think that after spending 3 months in Germany, I’d find it easy to ‘adjust’, but that’s not the case.

On 13th August it was my 1 year anniversary with Mani – so we both decided to have a two-week holiday in Windhoek. What bothered me, however, was that Mani thought it fit to organise a camping trip for our anniversary…with other people who I’d never met. Now anyone who knows me well, knows that I don’t do camping. Give me a hotel and a lovely, clean, spider-free bathroom, and I’m happy. But no…trust Mani to organise 2 days spent in a tent with the bare necessities 😦 Give me credit though…I grinned, nodded my head and said, “Awesome!”.

We’d been in Windhoek for a week and I noticed that he just wasnt’ saying much about the camping trip and every now and then I had to probe. “Soooo…liiiiike, what is actually going to happen on this trip? Are we going to get to spend at least an hour alone together on our anniversary…?” His reply, “Of course”. But I was still unsettled. Eventually I cornered him. “Right…ok Mister – you’ve made NO plans for our anniversary and you’re hauling me off to some dusty camping site. I demand that we go to the store now and buy some picnic-y type thingies, so that I know you’re planning to have a nice romantic picnic with me, OK!” 😦 And so we went to the store and got some picnic-y type things.

But it kind of gets worse…

We arrive at the campsite on Friday, early evening. I accept my fate and decide that it’s not that bad, because at least there’s a nice looking shower and toilet block. Ok. So that’s a good sign. But then I get the news that all of us (6 people in total) are expected to wake up at 4 the next morning, because we’re going to watch the sun rise from some sand dunes in Sossusvlei. Again, for those who know me…walking up some sand dunes before the sun’s made its appearance…nope! But again, I grin, nod and say, “Awesome!” (Because you have to be a positive person, right?!)

So we head off to bed early – little sarmies packed for the early morning trip. Mani’s restless the entire night and blames it on the full moon – I’m just trying to sleep so that I can wake up at 4am – and I’m getting annoyed because Mani’s restlessness means he’s walking around the campsite and I’m scared he’s going to wake the others up, and annoy them. I manage to fall asleep and then I hear Guido (Mani’s school friend) announce that it’s time to wake up. 😦 Nope, not happy at this point. I’m in a huff as I get my toiletries together and my clothes. I manage to make it to the bathroom and ask Mani to inspect it – to make sure it’s creepy-crawly free – only then will I use it….

Once I’m showered and dressed, I head off to the campsite, thinking there’ll be some pot of coffee waiting. No such luck. And apparently we need to hurry…so there’s not time to make a quick cup. It’s at this point that I sit myself down in my tent and start to feel sorry for myself. I haven’t slept a lot, I’ve been woken up way too early, there’s no coffee and now I have to climb some sand dunes and watch the sun rise – on my darn anniversary!!!!! Mani tries to calm me down, but I’m allowing myself to turn into a brat. He tells me to get my jacket and it takes a bit of arguing before I finally give in and get the darn thing. Soon we’re all on the dirt road – like true sun chasers – trying to make our destination without missing the sunrise.

We turn into the Sossusvlei Lodge parking area and it’s still dark. I get out of the car, yawn, and look around. There’s a minivan standing next to us with three people inside. Other than that, it’s dark and deserted. But obviously…who else would be awake at this time?! 😦 And then Mani says, “Surprise time!!” to which I reply, “Huh?”…and to which he replies, “It’s surprise time” – and then I realise…he’s got me! He’s organised a surprise and for the first time ever, I didn’t have a clue!!! My smile starts widening as I realise something’s about to happen – his friends are finding it funny and I’m just like a deer springbok caught in the headlights. Then he announces, “I need to go to the loo” but I still have no idea what’s going on. Guido must have realised this, because he walks up to me and says, “Do you know what it is?” and I say, “Urm, no!” So he tells me to look on the side of the minivan – and there I see the following written: Balloon flights.

Nooooooooooooo way! It dawns on me – there’s going to be no walking up the sand dunes, watching the sun rise!!! No! I’m going up into the sky in a hot air balloon!!!!! Mani gets back from the loo and I can’t contain myself – so much so, that I slap him through the face. But it’s a love slap…one done out of excitement. And he knows me well enough by now that he just laughs. Anyway – the story goes on, and I realise this post is getting a little long-winded, but how this unfolds is important and has to be told – so stick with me!

Mani and I head off with the minivan and 3 french tourists along some dusty dirt road – leaving our friends alone to enjoy their hike up the dunes (hahahahaha!). We eventually reach the hot air balloon and I’m so excited, but still can’t believe it’s happening. But it was all real and I have a photo to prove it:

Before I know it, we’re in our little compartment in the balloon and we’re heading over some mountains. I’m trying to take in as much of the view as I can, but somehow it’s impossible. It’s truly magnificent and just cannot be compared to looking out of the window of an aeroplane. Mani seems to be hugging me a lot and kissing my forehead – or just wanting to hold my hand, and I keep thinking, “What’s up with this man?! I’m trying to see the scenery for crying out loud!”

Next thing I know, Mani starts uttering these words, “Carmen, I wanted to come here today because I’ve been told this is the most beautiful place on earth” – and it’s at this stage that I realise what’s about to happen, but I keep my mouth shut, so he continues, “And there’s something I want to ask you *reaches into his pocket and takes out a red box*. Will you marry me?”

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT?! Yip – that’s what he asked – high up there, in the air over Sossusvlei. I had no doubt and took the ring out of the box, placing it on my finger, not even caring that it’s a little too big and I run the risk of it falling off my finger and into the desert below. And so it is that I got engaged! I can’t really remember the rest of the balloon flight – I just remember it being pretty – but I was far too distracted. I just couldn’t believe what had happened. What I’d secretly been praying for and hoping for had actually come to pass! When the balloon landed, all passengers were treated to a champagne breakfast, in the middle of nowhere (literally). What a wonderful memory – even if I didn’t get my coffee when I’d first woken up!!

It’s a huge adjustment, I must admit. At times I just think, “What am I doing?!?!?” and as someone who’s learning how to function from positivity rather than negativity, it’s been quite overwhelming sometimes. Luckily, though, I have the most supportive mom and dad; the most wonderful friend (La!!); and the awesomestestest fiancé – and with these people, and God, in my life – nothing is impossible!

A Pathway of Peace

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“Please forgive me,” and “I forgive you” – possibly two of the most powerful statements, which have the biggest effect on all the people they’re uttered to or by.

As I ponder the idea of ‘forgiveness’ I realise that it’s a strange, complex animal that we all come into direct contact with at some point along our life journey – we often seek it and give it – it’s rare that we experience only the one side of this beast. And although often a difficult concept to grasp, it’s one that can have the most profound effect on peoples’ lives. It’s almost as if through tearing people to pieces, it builds them up at the same time. Something that often achieves liberation through pain.

I read a story today of a lady who’d had acid poured over her face because she wouldn’t accept a marriage proposal. It completely disfigured her face, and she’s blind as a result. Her attacker was found guilty by a court, and it was ordered that he have acid poured into one of his eyes, as a form of retribution for his victim. When it came to the point that a doctor was about to pour the acid into the attacker’s eyes (with his victim watching) she said, “I forgave him, I forgave him,” and asked the doctor not to go through with it.

I think too of people, in my own country, who’ve forgiven other individuals who killed their family members – people who viciously took the lives of children. Yet, they were forgiven.

It’s an idea I’m still trying to get used to. We humans are rather complex – much like sea anemones – have you ever stuck your finger into a sea anemone? It draws into itself, eager to protect and prevent pain. Or how about blowfish – their reactions are slightly different – instead of drawing into themselves, they blow up and inflict pain…still, in an attempt to protect and prevent pain. I guess that’s what we’re like – sea anemones with the potential to be blowfish.

Forgiveness isn’t easy – but what I’ve learned over many years and through numerous disappointments, is that it’s essential for those who have been wronged or hurt. It’s the first step taken on the road to recovery. We all know the statement “Forgive and forget” – it’s a rather ambitious statement I think – forgetting is quite hard – but surely it’s not impossible?

Jesus forgave. He forgave without terms and conditions. He forgave without a list of prerequisites. He simply forgave. And we will always fall short – but we can still strive to live as Jesus did – to follow his example, and so, live life.