Okay, so everyone knows we have three rumbustious boys and quite a few folk might have thought we were quite barking mad to traipse around the world with them, taking them into some of the poorest and apparently dangerous countries on earth. But we have to say that, except for a few notable exceptions, they’ve done very well and hopefully the trip has opened their eyes to the broader world beyond Australian shores.
Joseph tells us he has thoroughly enjoyed the trip and the international travel bug seems to have bitten him. He doesn’t like being pressed on his favourite parts of the trip as he seems to have enjoyed it all and especially the people he has met. Tim occasionally grumbles that he dislikes travel, though this generally coincides with when he wants to shock us or get a reaction out of us. He has had the chance to run himself ragged in some pretty wild places and I think he’ll end up with good memories. Elijah is the best traveller – he can sleep anywhere, takes each day as it comes, doesn’t need a schedule and has made good friends everywhere he has gone.
One of the great ironies (and probably a moderating influence) on this trip has been that every major stay we have had has been with all-girl families. First the Crichtons and their three girls who our boys grew up with in Dubbo. Then Debbie and her amazing five girls in Bulawayo, and most recently my cousin Brett and Juanita Bowden and their three girls who we met for the first time in Port Shepstone.
Debbie’s youngest Christie dubbed our three “the bruthaz” in Bulawayo and hopefully the other families feel the same about our testosterone invasion. The Bowden house in Port Shepstone was a kid’s wonderland because Brett makes play equipment with fibre glass (when he’s not skippering fishing charter boats). The kids spent hours on the foufie slide (flying fox) and swings in the yard, with Elijah and Cassidy striking up a wonderful, chatty friendship.
I also really enjoyed being in Shepstone and seeing so many cousins for the first time in 25 years. As none of my siblings and few of my cousins are my age, the Bowden clan were the only ones of a similar vintage to me. We have some photos of me with the Bowden cousins burying ourselves on Anerley Beach in 1979 and history repeated when our boys and the Bowden girls started burying each other on a river beach in Oribi Gorge. Hopefully some of the cousins can make it out to Australia where we can reciprocate their wonderful hospitality.
A few other quick dot points:
1. When we were in Shepstone we visited several arms of a ministry called Genesis. Morag’s childhood best friend Sharon is the manager of a hospice, ostensibly a place where people go to die, in particular of HIV. However, such is the response of these people to love and care, nearly 50% of them don’t die – they return home to family. Amazing! We were staying with Letitia who was married to my uncle and she works at a Genesis Community Centre further west of Shepstone at Murchison. There she pours herself out daily in craft, reading and music programs. The centre also has a gymnasium and a rugby academy for a team named the Vikings (the same name as the team Tim plays for in Australia). Both women were inspiring in their love for the people they work for and with.
2. Today we visited my wonderful Aunty Rosemary, my Mum’s older sister. She fueled my love of reading as a child and I think all of us Grants are very grateful to her for pushing us and inspiring us. It was great to see her healthy and happy in her cottage with views in Durban and she plied the boys with some books to take home.
3. Tonight we’re halfway between Newcastle and Volkrus, 300km from OR Tambo Airport that we will strike out to in the morning. Our last night in Africa was highlighted by a roaring bonfire and a special moment for Lance. (Morag will know what I’m talking about and it has been recorded). Lance heads back to Cape Town tomorrow to catch up more with family there, and we will really miss him. We get back to Mapleton Friday evening, no doubt jet-lagged and bleary eyed.
4. I don’t think this is the “end” of this blog. With decent broadband at home we can upload photos and videos, and particularly there are more stories to be told and shown about the brave girls and loving staff of Sandra Jones Village. So stay tuned ……