June 29, 2015

Day 629: From South America to South Africa

I left Encarnacion at the end of May and boy was it hard. I know I get too attached and yes perhaps I’m too sensitive but I’m simply not good with goodbyes. I cried bucket loads even though I know I can and most likely will go back at some point. I was sad partly because it felt like I was leaving my home but also because I was leaving all my friends and family behind. I was perhaps too comfortable and I got attached without intending to and without even realising it for the most part. That said, I was happy living in Encarnacion, I found something, I don’t even know what or how but it was there, part of me, completing me. Paraguay and Encarnacion as a city is not a very busy or happening city, no it is peaceful, simple but filled with a lot of energy and love and it’s beautiful. I’ve been fortunate to have sat and walked along many beaches but none compare to the feeling I get walking along San Jose beach.  Also, I had some great students, lively, determined, funny, hard working students who I miss. My Spanish was better towards the end which helped but I managed to communicate with my bad, broken Spanish prior to that.

The only reason I managed to leave was because I was going to meet my sister, Seema, and brother in law, Josh, in South Africa. I love Seema and when they told me about this trip, I was under the impression that it was their holiday. Little did I know that Josh would be inviting me along too. I’m so grateful and happy that he did because not only did I see and spend time with Seema but they became part of my journey. I thought I was ready to see Seema after so long but no I wasn’t prepared, I wasn’t prepared in the slightest. We talked a lot, we talked whenever we could, about everything, our life, dreams, friends, love, relationships, fear, family and so much more.  We laughed, we laughed everyday, to the point that we were crying, until we could no longer breathe and our stomachs ached.  We laughed in public, during a meal, in our hut, out on the safari, anywhere without a care in the world. It is only with Seema that I laugh this much, I don’t know how or why but we go way back and things we find funny, well it’s just some crazy, understood bond.

I was able to be me, in my entirety, no holding back, no pretending or being polite. Whilst Seema and I are different, very different, I am able to be myself, to be stupid and crazy and spontaneous.  What do I love the most about our relationship? I love the fact that even though I’m out here doing my thing and she is there doing hers, when we talk or meet up, it’s like we never left, it’s like we continue right where we left off.  Yes, she doesn’t get or perhaps agree with everything I do and hell I don’t get everything she does but we are still able to laugh uncontrollably and say things openly. We all want to be ourselves but most of us are onions and so it takes time before we fully expose ourselves, before our true colours shine.  I’m no introvert but it takes me time before I start being sarcastic with friends.

This trip was legendry in many ways. I’ve changed, more so then perhaps Seema and Josh knew. But they too have come along way. We could have gone anywhere, seen anything and it would still be memorable in more ways than one.  I know that the words ‘thank you’ do no justice. I’m grateful for being invited out here and appreciate everything they did but I don’t have enough words to show them exactly how I feel. I felt important and so loved being invited on this trip. I feel special and ever so lucky to have this great relationship.  Being so close to Seema doesn’t on any account mean that I’m close to Josh. No bless him, he just knows how close Seema and I are. What a great brother in law, I don’t know many who would be so understanding, patient or kind.  He is a gem, a true gem and Seema knows it.

Of course, this amazing trip wasn’t going to last forever and so after 20 days or so, it was time to part. The sad, emotional part of everyone of my trips, the part I dislike the most and want to avoid. It was hard leaving for many reasons but perhaps the main reason was because I don’t know when I will see either of them again. They went back because well both of them have jobs and a life so it makes sense for them but for me, well I didn’t feel that I was done.

Rather, I did some research and spoke to a friend, whom I met in Paraguay, Miriam, she volunteered in Cape Town with an amazing woman Candi.  Miriam put me in touch with her and bang, I signed up to volunteer with her project. I went from living with one family straight into another. I believe in things happening for a reason and meeting people at certain points in our life and I knew that I was meant to meet Candi and work with her. She is so full of life, love and kindness. I’m volunteering at her project and I along with the other volunteers, all live in her house. I’ve volunteered at various programmes and this is perhaps one of the first ones where I have literally felt at home.

I still don’t have a plan, I don’t know where I’m headed and so I don’t know how I will get there. I just know that there is quite a bit left of my trip, not necessarily things to see but things to experience and people to meet. I still believe that I will know when to go home and until then I’m following signs and listening to my gut. When I share my travel stories or my journey so far some people laugh and question it which I understand. My trip wasn’t well thought out or planned but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Sure, it is great to have a plan and it is good to know where your going but sometimes it is more exciting to go with the flow, to trust the universe and yourself and see where it takes you.

So for now, I’m here, volunteering in community amongst the most adorable and loving children. I gain so much everyday, I’m loved and I laugh everyday so many times a day.  I’ve always enjoyed working with children and yet every time I work with different children, I learn something new about myself. I can’t compare my volunteering experiences or the children I have worked with because they are all so different. I feel different about each of them but I always gain so much. I grow and develop on so many levels. I’m smiling all day long, making the children laugh and many of them will make me laugh. Sometimes it feels like you are working in a bubble because how can life be so loving and magical but no, we working in a real community where there are problems and hardships but children just cope with them differently.

I try to bring joy to others, whenever I can, wherever I go.  Maybe I don’t get added on facebook and no doubt I may not meet every person I met again but I would like to think that I spread a little joy in their life, a little love and laughter because that much I can do. I have been blessed with so much love and laughter that I feel I owe it to others because they too then can spread this and so the cycle goes on.  We always have something to offer maybe not enough time or money but joy, that many of us are loaded with so why not sprinkle a little on those that really need it?