we went to south africa at the beginning of june...it was an amazing experience and i could post a million pics (well at least 1000, that's how many we took!) but i tried to pic my top ten favorites of the trip! we got the invite to go with my sister emily and her husband matt...they had bought tickets for the world cup, england vs. usa game, and gave us two tickets! they say a picture is worth a thousand words, but i say these pictures can't even begin to explain the impact this trip had on us.
#1 the fifa world cup! wow it was so amazing to be apart of a world phenomenon! futbol/soccer is on a different level overseas...its a culture, its a way of life...to some it is life. as intense as it looks on tv, multiple by a thousand and yes those vuvuzela horns are LOUD! it was so interesting to drive through towns and see all the little kids in bare feet kicking their soccer balls around...almost like from a movie or a documentary you might have seen. the usa vs. england game was crazy cool...i luved the singing of the national anthem, watching the little kids walking in with the players (their dream come true i'm sure!), the cheering, the celebrating...a sporting event i will never forget...it rocked my world and i luved every minute of it (even walking with emily after the game and meeting some new friends from england..."yes we knew you were americans straight away" :)!
#2 okay so i know this picture isnt amazing scenery or some cool wild animals but it has a point. this was my first time oversees and cam, em, & matt kept making fun of how "american" i am...begging for ice at every dining place we went to ("just fill the whole thing up with ice, okay...do you get it? the whole cup, fill it up!), ketchup - do you have it? i need it!, mustard for my soft yummy german pretzels...yeah, what can i say...im proud to be an AMERICAN and i also really luv ice.
#3 we were able to go to church one sunday in a small branch in rustenberg. we also drove up to the johannesburg temple one morning...would have luved to go inside but it was monday, and it was closed. its such an amazing feeling knowing that i can travel anywhere in the world and find the church of jesus christ and walk in and feel instantly at home, instantly safe, and instantly close to god. sacrament is always a time to reflect and as i sat there that sunday morning, i observed no cheerios flying during sacrament, no fighting over toys, people falling asleep, or kiddos begging for bathroom breaks. the members were intently listening, learning, and sharing their testimony's. they were sweet and welcoming. examples. humble and close knit.
#4 the food...um awesome! one of my favorite dining experiences was the african cafe where we had true africa cuisine. the dinner started with the host washing our hands, and then we ate the meal with out hands. another favorite was the codfather...where we walked up to the counter, picked out fish & they cooked it right there. we also had fresh fish-n-chips, german weinerschnitzel & pretzels, steers hambugers & carmel dipped cones!
#5 holding a baby cub, 2 months old, was a pretty surreal moment...they were so cute & "so little" but you could already tell how strong they were. our safari at the lion park was awesome...a group cancelled so it was just us 4 with our tour guide, helga. one of the highlights, at least for her, was seeing hyena's mating (i didnt post pics because i didnt want to scare anyone or cause nightmares like i had for weeks) she kept saying "if you only knew HOW RARE this occasion is, you wouldnt believe how lucky you are...please take pictures so i can show the workers back at basecamp...sooooo lucky, you just dont know!" watching the lions stroll and then run along our vehicle was pretty amazing...we saw alot of other animals...ostrich, giraffe, wild dog, wildebeest, and on and on.
#6 watching the boys jump into the atlantic ocean...they were bound and determined to check this off their list...dont even get me started on matt's obsession with swimming in the persian gulf! they were red when they came out! the beaches were beautiful, would luv to visit SA in the summertime!
#7 it was like being in first grade, going on a field trip to the zoo but actually being able to do the things you wanted to do! riding & feeding these elephants...was so fun! cam was in luv with our elephant, sharu. it was interesting getting to talk with our guide as we rode..."you know it's true what they say, it's everyone's dream to come to america...i sure would luv to see those waves in los angeles."
#8 touring...robben island (where nelson mendela was incarcerated...the boat ride out was an adventure in itself - scary!), the cape of good hope, penguin nesting beach, table mountain...each place touched me in different ways. south africa is so beautiful and has so much history. you can see it in their smiles. yet they have and continue to struggle so severely, it seems almost unbearable to me. we continually saw large groups of men, standing on corners...the employment rate is 45%. beautiful women walking along the streets carrying their babies with bath towels wrapped around them and usually 4 or more children following behind.
#9 yes if you look closely, that is a baboon breaking into that car. we were driving along the coast and kept seeing these signs that said "watch out for baboons". we were kinda laughing about it but then we turned a corner and saw a group of 20! matty & i braved it and got out and took pics, but these guys were the real deal and it was a little scary...i dont know what those other people were thinking...it was almost like a set-up by these little baboon family...the group was taking pictures of the mom & baby when out of no where this huge fellow came, jumped on the car, opened the door, and bolted out the other side and down the raven. people went nuts and the other baboons ran down the raven after their hero...we drove up and said, what did he take and the guy responded "he stole me biscuits!"
#9.5 this really doesnt count as a whole because it wasn't south africa and we were there for less than 24 hours...we flew through dubai and stayed there overnight. i know dubai has been getting alot of hype in the tourism industry but being there made me feel farthest from home, than i have ever felt in my life. we went up to the tallest building in the world, the burj khalifa & the biggest mall in the world, both were very impressive! our flight home from dubai was truly the worst expereience in my life but i dont have the time or energy to write about it...
#9.75 okay now im just being ridiculous but being with cam for 10 days was so fun! my sweet cousin kristine flew in to watch the girls for us...couldn't have done it without her! luv you kris!
#9.9 really...im almost done but i had to show a pic of the binder...when ever we travel we always put together a binder that includes all our itinerary, history on the places we are going, etc. emily was an amazing travel agent and everything went off without a hitch (except maybe that stick shift car, right em!).
#10 here's to you south africa..."a promise is a promise", beautiful blue skies, "robots" - aka stoplights, stacked dozen of eggs - not refrigerated - in all the petrol (convenient) stores, lots & lots of smoking!, horrible traffic & construction, friendly people, cool music...we luved it, still water, soccer insanity, really nice malls - which we thought was odd, small cars & lots of speeding & no cops in sight...ever, the franka bed and breakfast, counting your blessings & really realizing what freedom means, driving through beautiful beach bays with million dollar mansions and then turning the corner and being in the dirtiest-poorest living conditions imaginable...there really was no middle class, to the fools going down that steep hill on their skateboard & watching one wreck right before our eyes, kit kat bars...people there were obsessed with them, speed bumps in the middle of the highway, to camp town - i heart you!, and to pieces of history & moments that will be with me forever.