Thursday, July 12, 2012

South African adventures

I want to start this post by apologizing to the few people attempting to follow my life via this blog. Apparently, the only way I write consistently is if someone gives me a deadline and a paycheck. :) So, the fact that this is the first post in almost two years is slightly embarrassing, but I thought I should give some kind of update as to how the Isham family has been the past few months.
For all those who follow me on other (and more reliable) social media, you know that we have been living the past three months or so in South Africa. Specifically, we have been living in Johannesburg, where Kris has spent his days working at Massmart, one of Walmart's partners, and Noah and I have been spending our days exploring this very large city.
Like many of you, I had a slightly preconceived notion of what Africa would be like, but I promise that Johannesburg, being a city of several million people, is well removed from the wild animals of the bush and the hut villages of rural African nations. There are shopping centers every few blocks, plenty of traffic, some very nice parks (once you've found them) and tons of restaurants.
We have found this city, and this country, to be very hospitable in many ways. The people are friendly for the most part, quick to offer smiles and hellos, which is familiar to our southern ways. People are especially keen on talking to Noah, who is usually happy to talk back, if only to tell them what floor we will be exiting the elevator. Noah has become obsessed with numbers, so the elevator has become one of his favorite places. He's just a little put out that the building we live in only goes up to 13.
Anyway, our experiences in South Africa have been wonderful, with us able to take two once-in-a-lifetime vacations. We spent several days in the northern part of the country at the Madikwe Game Reserve, which was stunningly beautiful. Kris and I saw lots of animals on our game drives (Noah, being too young to go on the drive, kept the lodge's sitter entertained while we were gone). We saw four of  the "Big Five" animals to watch for while on a drive, including elephants, buffalo, rhino and lion. We did not see any leopards, because they are very elusive creatures. We also saw many other animals including giraffes, wart hogs, "boks" of all kind (deer-like animals), jackals and many different types of birds. We had one very up-close-and-personal encounter with a pride of 11 lions, who decided to sneak up on us while we were out of the truck having our morning coffee. That adrenaline-pumping experience was definitely one we will remember for the rest of our lives.

We also made a trip to the Western Cape of South Africa for a vacation in Cape Town. The city and area is beyond beautiful, with gorgeous beaches, scenic mountains and picturesque wineries and vineyards. It is truly one of the most breathtaking places I have ever been, and I hope we can return some day.
For the most part, Noah has enjoyed the travels. He has done very well on all the flights, and has learned to travel in the car like a pro. We take weekly trips to the zoo for him to say hi to the animals, and he enjoyed visiting the beach for the first time when we were in Cape Town (although he did not swim in it because it was much too cold.) I wish he could have been just a little older for this trip so he might be interested in more of the historical aspects of the country and could have enjoyed the wonderful restaurants where we have been dining (he has been eating a lot of mac 'n cheese, chicken nuggets and grilled cheese). But I think he will have some fond memories from this trip.
For me, I have relished this time to be together as a family and discover this wonderful country. We have met some new friends that we will miss, and have been privileged to see some of God's most awesome creations. There are actually many things I will miss about this place, and I will encourage my family and friends to take any opportunity they may have to come here. For those of you who are Facebook friends, we have posted tons of pictures from our travels on Kris's site, but I have also posted a few of my favorites here. We are looking forward to coming home and seeing family and friends again, but we have been so blessed to have the opportunity to live as South Africans for a little while.