South Africa – Trip 2 – Week 5 [last week :( ]

The Team & me ;) in front of the new design Embassy
The Team & me 😉 in front of the new design Embassy

So this is it… my last week in Munsieville… I have been ‘theoretically’ dreading it for weeks but now it’s real it feels really weird… This isn’t just the end of my trip to South Africa; it is also very nearly the end of my Pulse assignment.  6 months is a long time… but it goes soooo quickly!
I don’t want my assignment to end; it’s been such a great experience!!! 🙂
One of pushing my own ‘comfort zone’ boundaries, of experiencing a new culture, of doing something so different I didn’t even think I could do it! But as always and although I went on this assignment alone, I was never alone! I always had someone to bounce ideas off, to support me, to review things with, in my UK colleagues, Munsieville colleagues, friends, family, random people I just got chatting to 😉
I hope that I’ll be able to convey everything brilliant there is about Pulse to my ‘home’ colleagues when I get back and also how enlightening it has been on a personal level – I hope I can inspire others to apply… That’d be great if I managed that! 😉

The Team in front of the new design Embassy
The Team in front of the new design Embassy

On Monday I was told to ‘work from home’ because the Embassy needed a deep clean after the previous week’s Tshepo festival preparation…  What hardship to have to work from the terrace by the pool on a sunny day… I don’t mean to make you all jealous- because I know you already are! 😉 -but it was rather nice! I took this opportunity to catch up with some blogging as well as finish off the curriculum Part II exam questionnaire (finally!!!!).

Sarah, DK, Tumi & Stella posing for the camera :)
Sarah, DK, Tumi & Stella posing for the camera 🙂

Tuesday, I found the embassy pretty empty… most of the staff were having a well earned day off after the madness of the Tshepo festival. It’s weird to see the embassy so quiet after a couple of weeks of frantic preparation and meetings with volunteers.  I’m also sad to report that I didn’t get to go out to Leandri, Marlize & Zeldi… I’ll definitely have to come back!!! [I’ve already got the trip planned as I have a feeling I told you already in a previous post… but just as a reminder… 4-5 days in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, a few days in Munsieville, drive the Garden route and end in Cape Town 🙂 ]

Innocent posing for the camera :)
Innocent posing for the camera 🙂

On Wednesday, I had arranged to meet with the local business men and women that I had spoken to in person the previous couple of weeks [at 2pm] to do a more ‘formal’ presentation about the project and try to secure their support… I had sent an email the previous week to set up the meeting and got no replies so I decided to text them the day before the meeting as a reminder and ask if they could still make it… One reply to say ‘no I can’t’ [literally] and one to say they’d be there… I also did send a reminder by text Wednesday morning … just in case they’d forgotten… Well, in the end, none of the local business people turned up… even the one who texted that he would… One of them had the very valid excuse of being in China at the time of the meeting, the others less so! The only person who did turn up, albeit a bit late [but he did give us notice at least!] was a not so local businessman who really cares for this project.
We had a very interesting meeting where he really focused on making me feel good about what I had achieved so far and telling me that he’d make sure that the project would happen 🙂 – he thought I might be disheartened at being stood up once again for the meeting and not seeing things move forward… but in truth I was half expecting people not to turn up. And I’m very glad that a charismatic bishop/entrepreneur will be looking after the project in the interim. It’s nice to have Power Points, handouts, notes to trainer etc. but if it doesn’t happen, it’s all a bit pointless ;).

OB looking at some of my pics
OB looking at some of my pics

Thursday was my last full day in Munsieville so I made the most of the time with my colleagues. I took plenty of pics and I was soooo glad to see Gladys turning up at the office to say hello. I really wanted to see her before I left… see that she was ok ‘with my own eyes’ [not that I don’t trust everyone to give me news!] She looked back to her ‘normal’ self [except for the arm in a sling that is…] and was very chatty. I felt much happier for seeing her like that and super glad that the last I saw of her for my assignment wasn’t the hospital A&E department!!! Not an ideal goodbye scenario.
I also got to visit the Tutenkamun exhibition at Silverstar casino… for the first time in Africa it said on the billboard sign… last time I checked, Egypt was in Africa?!?!? (I’m not the best at geography but I have been to Egypt… I know where that is!!!) Anyway it was an interesting exhibition, one that made me want to go and see the pyramids for myself!!! Impressive 😉
Finally and to end a packed ‘last full day’ in style, I went out to the Rabbit Hole for dinner – it was sooo nice to see everyone one last time. So many reasons to go back… I’m going to need to start planning now!!!

Selfie with Gladys... because I can!
Selfie with Gladys… because I can!

On Friday, the staff was having some training about HIV/AIDS so I sat in for a while until I had to leave to drive to the airport, give the car back to Europcar and fly to Cape Town for a 5-day holiday (Yay!!! 😉  I’m glad everyone was busy with the training because it avoided tearful goodbyes… I was really dreading it! I found it the hardest on Thursday afternoon, when we were chatting with Stella, Tumi, DK and Sbongile and they were telling me that it wasn’t fair that I should leave just as they’d become used to having me around all the time and that I’d be ‘in their heart’ forever… I did try to hold it together but to be honest that just tipped me over the edge. I did get a nice hug out of it though… 🙂 Totally worth it if you ask me!!!

Gladys - with a smile :)
Gladys – with a smile 🙂

So Friday I successfully drove myself back to the airport, gave the car back and flew to Cape Town. Suzy [whom I had met on ‘trip 1’ at the Rabbit Hole] was at the airport with her sister in law Wendy to welcome me – South African people are so friendly, I only knew Suzy for just about 2 weeks that she’d already invited me to stay with her when I came to visit Cape Town in December. I feel so lucky! I’m sure I’d have been fine spending 5 days sightseeing on my own but it was so much more fun with friends! And I shall tell you all about the Cape Town trip in my next blog post!!!

Mara, Esma & Eksteen
Mara, Esma & Eksteen

I shall just end this post with a thank you to Eksteen, Mara, Max, Raymond, Daniel, Rubben, the 2 ladies from Zimbabwe & the staff [at No8 Guesthouse] and Esma, Leandri, Marlize & the staff [at the Rabbit Hole] for making my trip such a great experience. Your kindness and friendliness (and aquatic apes’ theory…) made me feel at home, when in fact I was so far away from home. I am glad I have got to spend time with you and if you ever are in the UK, I will be happy to return the favour.

Last, but certainly not least, to everyone at the Thoughtful Path in Munsieville – I have got to know you and grown to love you during the 7.5 weeks I have spent with you this year. I will see you again, I promise! But in the mean time, I wish you all the best in your personal and professional lives. I will always be there for you and I will make sure I share all my little ‘life stories’ with you [via our TPM Munsieville What’s app group – technology is wonderful!!!] and I hope you will do the same with me. I will never forget you and there will be a place for you in my heart & thoughts ‘until death do us part’ 🙂

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