It all started with an email.
Seventeen months, twenty-six people and a video crew later I am about to stand amongst lions, rhinos, hippos and elephants on what is to be the most epic journey of my life.
After 20 hours, with a day stopover in London, we finally arrive at Jambo Airport, Johannesburg in South Africa. I stand up to exit the plane and for a moment feel I might pass out. I didn’t sleep a wink for almost two days, but with the excitement of being in South Africa I jump up quickly, grab my carry on and eagerly await my turn to exit the plane.
For seventeen months my new friend Dawid founder of Toerboer had been planning this epic adventure and it was finally ready to unfold. The process in itself was epic. Navigating a virtual relationship with Dawid, whom I had only met through mutual friends, as well as educating myself on what I was in for. After all, South Africa, up until the point I received an email calling me there, had never been on my radar.
Lions, Leopards, Crocodiles, Scorpions, Venomous Snakes, with Spiders as big as my face and not to mention, Malaria?!
What was I in for?
Boy, was my perception off!
Beginning with meeting Dawid, whom from our meetings on Skype I assumed was about my height or maybe shorter, but to my surprise he was a giant Africans man with feet the size of a sasquatch and hands that could crush bones, however had an energy so gentle whatever fears I brought with me were instantly calmed.
It’s amazing how our perceptions dictate our reality and how that can change in an instant. It would seem the 17 months worth of projection, anxieties and fears were a big waste. Isn’t it odd the stories we create in our heads about something never end up reality?
In my life experience everything always turns out far better, so then why do I keep torching myself? Who knows, but for now I am going to accept it as part of the journey and perhaps take this as an opportunity to be more open and aware going forward.
Not only is this the first time being in South Africa and meeting Dawid but it’s also my first time meeting many of the twenty-six others that would be taking this fourteen day journey with us, and as we all greet one another at the airport I feel a sense that we have all been together before. Maybe another lifetime, if you believe in that stuff, or maybe we were just all drawn together because we had similar energy and a sincere desire to become more; connected, compassionate and courageous? After all, that is my original intent for this journey.
As we all exit the airport I feel a warm but dry air hit my face; the sun is beaming and the airport bustles with African menwith greetings of wanting to either help me or sell me something. Our bus arrives and out of the driver’s seat emerges a short stalky black man with the brightest energy and most radiant smile I think I have ever seen, but there’s also something mischievous about him, and it doesn’t take long before Ernest jollily reveals himself. Actually, It doesn’t take long before all the characters on our journey unearth themselves. Each very unique and sharing deeply loving hearts and a desire to do and be more in this world.
As we made our way on the bus to our first guest house we began to experience the duality of South Africa. Warm, sunshine, happy people, however each building and home in Johannesburg was surrounded by towering walls, spikes, barbed wire and electric fences. A slight and silent panic slithers its way through the group but deep within I am feeling an unusual sense of peace, like the universe, somehow has our backs.
Shortly after checking in to our eclectic, Boho style guest house, which by the way is totally my thing so I not only felt a deep sense of peace but now felt completely at home. Many of the group decided to do a tour of Soweto a cultural village nearby while a small group of us decided to take a walk to find a place to sit chat and grab a quick bite.
As we walked through the neighborhood we experienced a deep sense of comfort as we were greeted by friendly smiles, the beautiful sound of African birds, vividly colored trees and the warm, dry African air.
We ended up at a cute little café/bistro called The Leopard. As we all took our seat we began to experience firsthand the pace of South Africa. Calm and Slow.
For many of us, considering we were all from ‘fast paced’ North America, this was triggering and a huge adjustment. We continued to be challenged by it the rest of our journey and hopefully, at least for me anyway I excepted that it would eventually have it’s way.
After all, what’s the rush all about anyway?
Nature does not hurry yet everything is accomplished. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ah, the pace of South Africa!
Back to the guesthouse we go to get ready for our welcome reception at Moyo (South African for Spirit), what a perfect place to begin this journey! I am ecstatic to kick back, relax, and connect with everyone. Possibly I am most excited to hand out the gift I had custom made for everyone, an antique map of South Africa on a magnified pendant, which hangs from a rustic bronze chain. And WOW is it ever received well! Our tribe instantly places them around their necks, each one to be infused with the energy of South Africa that will be held in our hearts forever.
In less than 12 hours South Africa is already having its way, changing our perceptions and foreshadowing an epic adventure to come…