I am on the plane, the very last leg of my very long journey. And I’m (finally) watching Invictus, the movie that tells the true story of Nelson Mandela’s efforts to unite and reconcile South Africa after apartheid. I am literally in a constant stream of tears, because this movie is so beautiful. I’m glad I waited until after my stay in South Africa to watch it because it means so much more to me now. It shows the South African rugby team, the Springboks, entering townships to conduct clinics with the children, and it’s so powerfully realistic. They visit Robben Island, exactly as we did. “I was thinking about how you can spend 30 years in a tiny cell, and come out willing to forgive the people who put you there.” Sobering, but beautiful beyond words, because it’s so real. And wow… Morgan Freeman was absolutely meant to play this role; I’m convinced it’s his most incredible contribution to the world of film. I love having one final reminder that there’s a lot of work to be done in South Africa, and that I want to be a part of that effort.
This morning, we woke up early – unfortunately accustomed to life in the bush. We packed, relaxed, took our last showers for 24+ hours, and said goodbye to Jillian, our surrogate mother at the hostel. We left behind some boots, gloves, and a couple of sweaters because Joe discovered that Antony keeps bags of clothing in his car to hand out to homeless men and women on the street corners when they beg for food and money. What an incredible guy! He drove us to the airport quite early, so Fabienne, Leah and I had time to eat one final meal at Nando’s in the airport before we all went our separate ways.
And now, I’m here. On the plane, once again hanging in that precarious space between time zones. In limbo. Somewhere between real life and the most significant summer of my 26 years. As much as I wish I could stay, I am ready to go home. I don’t know what to expect of life back home after this summer, and I don’t know how easily I will hold on to these moments. I still can’t wrap my mind around the fact that it’s really over. Of only one thing I can be absolutely sure: I will be back.
Thanks for sharing this journey with me by reading my entries. I questioned whether or not anyone would read it, but I was shocked to see the number of hits this blog has gotten over the past two months. I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and I hope you understand what an amazing country South Africa really is. There is so much more to life than Gainesville, than Florida, than the United States. Keep an open mind. Be colorblind. Be polite and gracious and humble. Keep your eyes open and your mouths shut. Get out there and see it, as often and as much as you possibly can. And thanks again for reading.