This last week passed slowly and heavily with the weight of this morning’s departure ever present in my mind. We left the Haven, our home for the past 2 and a half months, in the early African dawn that peeked shyly through the trailing rain clouds. Our journey from this point will take us back along the coastal route of the N2, through the folded mountains and the tumultuous landscape, through the profound scenery and mosaic terrain that is South Africa, all the way back to Cape Town. This is not a journey out of Africa, however, and certainly not a trip back to the US only to leave this place behind. At this point, such a feat would be impossible. Instead, this is a progression (not a regression) throughout the continually unfolding contingency of my life. I cannot leave this place behind--parts of myself are held in the waters and soils and the woods and the people that I have seen and known and made a home with for the past months of my life. Regardless, the upcoming week still holds many adventures before we actually leave and many more stories to be told.
Before leaving the Wild Coast and bidding a final goodbye to the Transkei, we made a serious point of making our farewell fittingly epic. After a few nights of “borrowing” canoes for nighttime river adventures and failed ocean excursions, after morning sunrises from the lighthouse, after bonfires and music and singing Xhosa songs on the beach, after fishing and tagging sharks in a storm, after crossing shark and crocodile infested rivers, after rum and local brews and dancing, we drove out through the same rolling hills and along the same dirt roads that had once taken us to this unfamiliar place. We now leave it as a home away from home, sometimes maybe even a home in its own right, with friends and people and stories and memories that will stay with us forever. To my new friends, I wish you all the love and happiness in the world. See you in time, surely, but not soon enough.
This afternoon, we arrived just outside Ado Elephant Park, a national park on the southern coast that prides itself on housing the “Big 5” (that is white rhino, lion, jaguar, cape buffalo and of course, elephant) as well as a coastline with great whites and whales. Tomorrow, it is early morning and late night game drives through the park and relaxing in the beautiful aura of nature that has, at this point in human history, become exclusively confined to demarcated areas and national parks.