We woke up this morning and eagerly called down to Shaka Marine World to check out the surf conditions. They told us the waves were great so we reserved 2 hours of surf lessons. One would do the surf lessons while the other played on the beach with Isaiah. We were very excited about trying to surf and even more excited to be doing it in the surf capital of South Africa. We got down to the beach around 830 and immediately met our instructor and started our lesson. The lesson sounded simple and in no time we were in the water. For the first part of the lesson when we got in the water, all I could think about was sharks…..great whites actually. I tried to keep my arms and legs on the board and not flopping around like a seal. I soon got it out of my head and got focused on surfing. The first time I caught a wave, the instructor pushed the board and got me moving, I popped up out of the water and rode the wave all the way to the shore! It was amazing. It was like an adrenaline rush and it felt like it lasted for a couple minutes. Long story short, I did not get up on the next few waves but I did manage to get up on every couple waves that came through. Some of the waves were pretty brutal. It didn’t matter whether you rode the wave or were fighting the waves to get back out to the big waves, they were painful. I finished the lesson and am very glad I can check that off the to do list. Next Brooke! We came back to the shore and I started watching Isaiah while Brooke started her lesson. She was one hot momma out in the water and I think she looked a lot smoother on the surf board than me She had a blast just like me and caught some great waves. Me and Isaiah had a nice time on the beach building sand castles and walking in the water. However, it’s obvious that me and Isaiah feel the same way about the ocean. Its not fun getting sand all over you, and when you can’t swim the ocean is a terrifying place. Isaiah definitely wanted to sit on the towel with me and did not like getting sand all over himself. Brookes lesson came to an end and we made our way back to the car and headed home. We came back home and laid Isaiah down for a nap and he slept solid for a couple hours. When we woke up we went out back to the pool and swam a little and kicked around some balls. We had a nice evening and turned in around 8 for bed. His bedtimes are now very smooth. As long as we don’t turn the TV on before he is asleep he will go to sleep very quickly without any tears and will now sleep for 11-12 hours. We are so thankful for this!
Big day today. Yesterday afternoon while Isaiah was sleeping I decided we needed to get away for the weekend and do something really fun. We had already done the game park drives and animal parks but I wanted to do a real African safari. Something that would put us on the edge and get us fired up. I spent a lot of time looking at reviews of Big 5 safaris in South Africa and there were 2 at the top of most lists. Kruger and HluHluwe. All the reviews said Kruger is way too commercialized and way too many people are there on a daily basis to really enjoy the animals. Hluhluwe had incredible reviews, the only problem was it was 3.5 hours away. Driving in a SUPER compact car, with no power steering, on the wrong side of the road, using a stick shift with your left hand, with no AC did not sound like fun. However, the reviews I read about the safari company that works inside HluHluwe made me think it would be worth the effort. So, Friday afternoon at 4pm I booked a Bed and Breakfast called Zulani for Saturday night and called the Safari company to see if they could take us on a private safari. Initially they said they would not allow us to come because of Isaiah, they said he was too young. After some talking and negotiating, and telling the story of why we are in South Africa, they made our reservation! We left Durban about 8am and headed to St. Lucia for the night. St. Lucia is about an hour outside the game reserve and offers some great wild game attractions as well. We checked into our bed and breakfast about 12 and the owner had a great day lined up for us. St. Lucia is famous for Hippo, Crocs, and Elephants freely walking through the streets. We were warned numerous times about letting Isaiah walk on his own and also not to walk around any bushes where we couldn’t see the other side. We were told to visit the water that runs into the ocean and that we would see plenty of wildlife there. We drove down to the river and Me and Brooke got out of the car, left Isaiah buckled in and walked about 50 yards away from the car with cameras in hand. We heard noises in the bushes and we started filming and taking pictures. Next thing we know we heard 2 loud grunts about 15 feet away in the bushes. Me and Brooke got back to the car quicker than you’ve ever seen 2 white people run.
It was definitely a Hippo and we were definitely scared. We jumped back in the car and drove down to the boat house which was only about 100 yards from where we were walking. The boat house has a viewing deck of the river and it overlooks where me and Brooke took our quick walk. While we were watching the river we saw 2 giant hippos get in the water right where we were previously walking and heard the grunts about 15 minutes earlier. We were thankful we did not walk any further into those bushes. The food was terrible at the boat house, a common theme here in SA, but the view was incredible. We drove back to our bed and breakfast and turned in early for the night. Isaiah went to bed as soon as the TV was off and we all were preparing for our big safari the next day.
No one slept good. We were watching our watches all night hoping we didn’t sleep past our pick up time. The safari guides picked us up at 5am on the dot. We jumped in half asleep and rode the next hour in the dark. We arrived at the park before the gates opened and were 2nd inline to see the park. During the early morning hours it was very chilly and we were all bundled up in blankets because the vehicle was open on the sides and top. About a half our in the park we had an experience of a lifetime. We drove up on a lioness crouched behind a bush staring down a wildebeest. Our guide could not believe what he was seeing and told us to get ready for something amazing. I had the video rolling, Isaiah was locked into the situation being as quiet as possible, and Brooke was ready to capture every moment of what would unfold. The wildebeest was staring in to the bushes and not even looking at the lioness.
The lioness was in full stalk mode almost lying below the grass as she watched the wildebeest. Our driver kept saying, she’s going to take him now, now. Above our heads flew a flock of vultures, and landed about 50 yards away from the wildebeest. The guide said all the animals know what’s about to happen and they’re getting in line to eat. At the same time both the wildebeest and lion turned their heads to the left and looked intently into the distance. We couldn’t figure out what was going on until we finally saw Hyena. Both the wildebeest and the lion didn’t know what to do. In an instant the hyena was on the seen, the lion got spooked and headed to the bush, and the wildebeest life was spared. We could not believe the lion waited and did not attack, this could have been our big youtube moment! Our guide drove up to the bush where the Lion retreated to and we found an incredible surprise. We pulled up about 5 feet away from the bush and inside we found a pride of lions with a dead wildebeest. It was amazing seeing the herd so close and eating a wildebeest. Our guide was even more excited than we were telling us repeatedly how incredible it was and that he’s hardly ever seen anything like this. The male lion was absolutely huge and all the lionesses were waiting and watching what he did with the carcass. Our guide explained that now he knows why the other lion didn’t kill the wildebeest, it was because they were all full from the previous kill. We sat and watched the male lion for about 20 minutes devour the wildebeest and at the same time get VERY agitated with our presence. He watched us with burning eyes and eventually started growling at us. The growls were so deep they shook your body and made you question whether the lion could jump straight in our vehicle. All at once the Lion started making mini charges at us and growling loudly. Our guide got very nervous and decided it was time to drive away. Me and Brooke agreed whole heartedly and couldn’t move away fast enough. It was about 7am in the morning and we had enough thrills for the whole day! Here’s the funny thing, after we left the lions we drove for about 5 minutes and he stopped the vehicle and said, time for breakfast. He pulled the vehicle over and stopped next to a large watering hole that had elephant and other animal tracks. I was like, is this a joke? The lions could be here in 5 minutes. Me and Brooke were completely on edge and I asked our guide, are we allowed to be out of our cars? Clearly he was too comfortable with the surroundings.
We ate and drank quickly and told him we were ready to move on. We had a great morning seeing white rhino, huge elephants, giraffes, buffalo, wart hogs, kudu, impala, zebra, baboons, and some sort of cat that disappeared before he was identified. It was amazing seeing all these animals from a completely open aired vehicle in the middle of the wild. It wasn’t’ even lunch yet and we were already thrilled with our experience. Isaiah absolutely loved seeing the giraffe, rhino, and warthogs. The warthogs were so playful and flung dirt all over each other which he thought was hilarious. Both Brooks and Moses love warthogs and we constantly wished they were with us. We stopped at a picnic area in the middle of the reserve. The border of the picnic area had 7 foot tall electric fencing but had a view that was one of the best we’ve seen in Africa. Isaiah was having a blast, we were having a great weekend, and we saw 4/5 of the African Big 5. The Leopard was the only animal we could not find. Our guide said leopards are so scarce that he only sees them 1/100 visits to the park. We felt great about what we had seen and will remember this day forever. We only wish we could have shared it with Brooks and Moses. Soon after lunch we headed back to St. Lucia to pack up our stuff and left the B&B to head home. It had already been a long day and the trip home was no exception. It was long but we had a blast. Windows were down, lame songs playing on the radio were turned way up, Isaiah was singing songs weve never heard of at the top of his lungs, and me and Brooke were making fun of things on the radio. While driving out of St. Lucia there was a billboard that said “Old men with young girls = teenage pregnancy and aids…….thank you captain obvious for your observation. The most appalling thing about it is that some of the kids still don’t know how Aids is transmitted. After getting past the Aids billboard, we continued our fun all the way back to Durban. It was a drive I will never forget and was really glad and I got to spend some time with Brooke just laughing and catching up. The past 3 weeks have been incredible but they don’t come without some hard times as well. Being in foreign country, away from your kids, moving homes 4 times, daily living in unsafe areas, with no privacy and no me time, can take a big toll on you. Today’s safari and drive really gave us a much needed break from what had become the norm back in Durban. Thank you Lord for a nice break and a great day with Brooke and Isaiah.
Andrew and Rae asked us to come by the farm today to see what all the Lord had revealed to them and also how far a long they are with the water issue. We got there around 11am this morning and had a great time. We took the long walk down to the creek and saw the great reservoir that had been dug out by us and some great volunteers, a couple weeks ago. The rain we got over the weekend had filled up the reservoir to the brim. He showed us the 400m of piping that he had buried and taken down to the river. He showed us the new pump which had been mounted on a small trailer type thing. And he showed us the swimming pool/reservoir that was set up next to the house to store additional water. Words cannot express his gratitude and how he said fixing the water has helped him and his family. He said that with things the way they are right now and with the current water storage, they have enough water to last them through the winter. He said you have no idea what it means to have water taken care of for the next 4 months. I agree, I have no idea what it’s like, but I could tell what it meant to him and the family. It was truly a blessing to see how God had placed a need, filled the need, and brought it to fruition. Thank you everyone who was involved and donated money to this incredible cause. They were so thankful and so grateful for what we had done and the only thing I could do was remind him that I didn’t do it. The Lord showed me a need and surrounded me with great Christian brothers and families that felt their need and donated money to help meet the need. I can only hope that all the family’s who gave money to the orphanage can feel and sense the amount of relief that Hope Farm now has knowing that no matter what happens during the winter months, they will have water! Praise the Lord and thank you for helping meet this need. It’s all I can do not to write out each familys name that gave so generously and give them the direct recognition they deserve. But our Father who sees in secret will reward us and we know our rewards are not earthly. On behalf of Hope Farm, Me, Brooke, Isaiah, Brooks, and Moses we want to say Thank You, for giving your money to support Hope Farm.