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Africa Family Thoughts Travel

Human Life Is Valuable

It’s been a little over two years since I posted anything in this space. So much has happened in those two years from saying goodbye to our home of twelve years to moving continents to where we are now – fighting against the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic.

My daughter and I just returned from South Africa a week ago. I was in transit during that dreadful 9/11 day in 2001. I was supposed to fly when Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, but our flight was canceled, and we ended up stuck in London for a week. I’ve flown during some crazy times, but flying during the COVID-19 pandemic was a little unnerving. Our flight from London to Dallas was packed, because lots of people were re-routed through there since Dallas was one of a handful of airports doing health screenings. We received a health questionnaire on the plane. I totally expected thorough checks and vetting. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case. Immigration was a breeze. No one even asked for our questionnaires let alone suggested we self-quarantine. It made this virus seem like no big deal although I knew this wasn’t the case.

We decided to self-quarantine anyway. I believe I’m healthy enough to fight this thing off, but if I’m a carrier, well, human life is way too valuable for me to be careless going around spreading this to others, especially the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. I think I can hunker down at home with my favorite people in the world in an attempt to flatten the curve. I just wish everyone would do the same. If we’re going to stop this dead in its tracks, we’ve got to let go of our freedom for a moment and just stay home.

There’s a lot of fear and a lot of unknown out there. I’ve decided as a daily practice to try and spread a little joy through this blog of mine. Who knows what I’ll post, but I do hope it will bring a smile in the midst of everything going on right now.

Love you all. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Be smart.

Africa Travel

my take on ants

Ant

I know there are much bigger problems in the world than ants, but y’all, they drive me absolutely crazy. If you want to know why, you can read all about my woes over at Petit Elefant. Hint: they involve the invasion of my precious face wash.

Africa

what a good day at kruger looks like

cats walking down the road

lion

zebra

kudu and zebra

buffalo

hyena

A few weeks ago, we ventured into the Kruger. It had actually been months since we had been in, so we were happy to see anything. Maybe 2 minutes after entering Numbi gate, we happened upon 3 lions walking down the road! That’s what you call a good day in the Kruger! The rest is just fluff. Although the hyena at the end of the day was pretty cool. Hyenas are ugly, but you don’t see them often!

Africa Community creativity Hospitality Ministry Travel

reverie guesthouse

oasis6

In the beginning of last year, I started a new little venture in the world of guesthouse businesses. I never really aspired to do something like this, but I’m so glad I did. I realized how much I love creating inviting spaces filled with beautiful things that make people smile. One of my favorite things is to see people’s reaction as they walk in and {positively} comment on the space.

January 2016, I listed BEAUTIFUL ARTSY AFRICAN RETREAT on Airbnb. I was ready for business! We didn’t get a booking until March. I wondered if this was a good idea after all. I didn’t get into this for my own sake.

I did it to provide an income for others while at the same time teaching business skills and imparting my high standard for excellence in everything you do.

oasis10

I did it to invite people of all walks of life to come to this place where we invite Jesus to abide. Our strict policy from the beginning has been that we don’t discriminate against ANYONE.

And, unashamedly, I did it to make money. Is a business successful if it doesn’t make any money? We have a beautiful property here in S. Africa. It’s a win win to use our space to make a little extra rands for running costs.

I guess all we needed was a booking to get the momentum going.

By July, because of the number of trips we had hosted and our excellent ratings, we had risen to Superhost status (and have maintained it since).

oasis7

In October, we added our second listing, BEAUTIFUL OASIS IN THE AFRICAN BUSH (these photos are a glimpse of that space).

Sometime, in the last quarter of 2016, our two listings made it to the top two spots when you google top White River Airbnb accommodations.

By December 31st, 2016, we had hosted 130 guests from 20 nations!

As I review my reasons for getting into this, I’m pleased that I’m right on track as we enter our second year. I’m so glad I get to do this guesthouse thing with this lovely lady who constantly makes me laugh and amazes me with her growth posture and shared drive to make a space that is clean, clean, clean.

smile!

We’ve certainly hosted people from all walks of life! One night we had a husband and wife Muslim couple staying with us who said one of the best things they loved about staying at our place was the people (we do have a pretty spectacular bunch) and how it’s always great to meet people like us. The very next night we had a gay Jewish couple stay with us who thanked us for our warm hospitality. I believe Jesus calls us to be a lover of people, and I’m so glad that people who meet us for the first time feel that when they sleep in our beds.

And we did make money! It’s always nice to recoup your startup costs AND make money on top of that.

Here’s to a successful 2016 and an even better 2017!

Africa Family Fun Thoughts

holidays in the southern hemisphere

hat ornament

Christmas is over, but I still wanted to share my thoughts on the holiday season in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s quite different than how I grew up and always take a little adjusting in my mind.

christmas tree

A couple of weeks ago, with a sweltering 90 something degrees outside, we had our staff Christmas party in South Africa. There was such irony in listening to tunes of chestnuts roasting over an open fire while making snowman ornaments. Creating a pile of water with a carrot, top hat, and scarf on top would have been more appropriate. Such is Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere.

do you wanna build a snowman

This whole scene made me fully aware of just how much weather creates mind associations when it comes to holidays. When I’m in South Africa on December 25th, it never feels like Christmas, but I know if one of my African friends ventured to the Northern Hemisphere in December, they would say the same thing.

kerplunk

tic tac toe

I like traditions, but they must be replaced if I’m going to survive a Summery Christmas.
Sipping hot chocolate in front of the open fire is replaced with slurping ice cold Appletizer in front of the pool.
Beautiful Winter scarves are replaced with tank tops and swimsuit cover ups.
Baking is replaced with cold salads. No one wants to fire up the oven or even eat in this heat.

braai masters

Gingerbread house creativity is replaced with creating fun outoor games. (Every gingerbread house we’ve done here lasts less than 24 hours before collapsing into a melted pile of sugar. Sadly, this was the first year we abandoned this tradition.)

making ornaments

We don’t count snowflakes. We count how many showers we took in one day. It’s the best way to cool off.
We don’t get cabin fever from staying indoors. We try to be outdoors as much as possible since our cooling system involves ceiling fans and open windows.

twister

croquet

I am happy to report that Christmas day at our home this year was cooler than it was in my hometown in Texas. I was shocked but bubbling with joy. It put me in the mood to cook a big ole Christmas dinner enjoyed by 11 hungry mouths. This week, leading up to New Year’s, is teetering between sweltering hot and rains which cool it down to a bearable state.
I hope your holidays have been fabulous spending it with the people you love!