One year ago today, Will and I said goodbye to the US and hello to South Africa. It seems like we've been here for much longer than a year and I think our families and friends back home would agree.
During the past year, I've traveled to 10 different countries, none of them being the one of my citizenship (South Africa, Zambia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, Ireland, England). I no longer cringe at flying, although I still give my customary two pats on the plane with my right hand when entering the plane (oh superstition...). I also fell head over heels in love with Cape Town.
I conquered major fears by completing a canopy zipline tour (and creating a permanent dent in my left shin in order to not pitch my husband off the side of a mountain) and whitewater rafting (in class 4 and 5 rapids, no less). Clearly, I survived.
I've learned it can get a lot colder in Africa than I ever thought (yes, 32 degrees farenheit!). I've learned that I can actually slap lotion on my skin and watch it immediately disappear due to living in a high altitude, super dry climate. I've learned that chlorine from the pool will bleach out your dog's hair.
I've realized that its not so bad living behind bars - I hardly notice them on my windows anymore. I still don't know why my hydrangeas died a cruel, ugly death in the yard while everything else thrives (seriously - I had 7 foot tall roses!).
I've added strange phrases to my vocabulary, such as "Izzit?" or "100%" or "Oh shame..." and can actually sound out the various African languages fairly well, even though I have no idea what I'm talking about. My math skills have increased tenfold from doing exchange rate calculations on a daily basis.
I no longer think it strange that people sing out loud in public. I've grown accustomed to life moving slow - traffic, queues, internet service, restaurant orders. I'm used to someone standing at every stop light asking for money, food, or clothes.
I still haven't seen an elephant in South Africa.
I still can't drive a stick shift car.
My eating habits have majorly changed. I enjoy game meat more than I enjoy chicken. I order almost all of my food spiced "hot" - which is super duper hot. I prefer my eggs over medium instead of scrambled. I've fallen in love with Boursin. I still think biltong is gross although I eat warthog cabanossi for breakfast almost every day. I think I need these in my life right about now but the lack of adobo sauce and wonton wrappers will prevent me from attaining this goal. I tell people I miss them more than I miss Chick-fil-a and I only hope they know me well enough to know that means I miss them a heckuva lot.
My lifestyle habits have changed. A night in with friends with takeout pizza and trivial pursuit is a great time indeed. My best weekends are those spent with friends at a cookout with nothing to do but enjoy each other's company (oh yeah, and of course some time devoted to playing in the pool with the dogs). I love dinners out on the town, but also love those nights where Will creates something super tasty and we watch numerous episodes of a TV show on DVD. I guess I've realized that it doesn't take a lot to make this lady happy.
I've been incredibly blessed to share this fantastic experience with Will. Through the ups and downs, we've realized that we have a great thing together. We've built an incredibly solid foundation for our marriage due to our experience here and we are so thankful to have yet another year to keep learning how to be the best spouse we can be for each other.
To put it simply, we love South Africa. One of my favorite songs by is "Africa" by Toto. In the chorus, they sing "We're gonna take some time and do the things we never have." I know that Will and I will always look back on this two year adventure with fond memories because we've done just that. We've taken two years and removed ourselves from our safety net back home and taken on this great adventure with so many unknowns. And its been awesome.