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The Year That Was 2011

Ahh, it’s that time of year where I reflect on what has happened in my life during the year. That time of year where I say to myself “Holy shit, where did the year go?” That time of year where I have to adopt a site family to celebrate the festive season with (FYI, I have found others who are also stuck on site. We have created an orphanage).

Since I’ve been away from home for most of the year, I thought I’d reflect on the year by going through my photos.

January

I went home for 2 weeks on my R&R to attend Mr. & Mrs. Em’s beautiful wedding. Coincidently, my friend Bec from London was also in town. It was a great reunion of all the girls in 2 years.

I had also made it home just in time to catch up with my good friend Alex who was in town for a week. Our travel dates crossed perfectly. It was the first time I had seen him in 6 months! So a group of us got dressed up and went out to wine and dine ourselves as a treat.

My group: Kim, Alex, Pauline and Benny.

April

My contract in the D.R. Congo finished at the end of March. I decided to treat myself to a holiday for all my hard work, and what better place to visit in Africa than South Africa. A work mate had twisted my arm in doing a paragliding course and so I did. I went down to Wilderness where Cloudbase Paragliding is based.

That’s me up in the air with Jan instructing me to fly towards the wind sock. I think it was my third tme up in the air. And the fear of heights was more prominent than ever!

In between paragliding sessions, we travelled along the Garden Route. This is me chowing on mini cakes at the Sedgefield Wild Oats Market. That was a very good day.

This is a shot taken by Pav, my paragliding buddy, of me on a tandem flight with Jan. I love how he captured the sun against a clear blue sky. It was a perfect day for flying.

With a paragliding pilot qualification in my hand, we made our way to Cape Town, the mother city of South Africa. Long Street, V&A Waterfront, Table Mountain and Cape of Good Hope. I did it all in 2 short weeks.

May

May represents the start of the birthday season for the year.

Kim and Leanne’s spectacle and suspenders themed party! 6 metres of red lace and 4 metres of elastic later… handmade suspenders success! And the party was awesome.

Bali was on the travel list for the year. The four of us decided that we would venture to Bali for the first time. I managed to convince Kim and Pauline that they would love to spend it with Benny and myself in Bali. The plan worked and we had a blast!

July

A new work contract took me to Zambia. The 4th African country in 8 months. And a new adventure.

September

The end of my contract meant another month to travel around Africa before heading back to Australia. This time, a camping tour took me through Livingstone, Botswana and South Africa (yes, again!). I then took another 2 weeks exploring KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and the Freestate by road.

Victoria Falls. One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

Botswana at its best.

A weekend trip up to Alldays in the Limpopo Province saw me play with white lion cubs, witness tigers do live in Africa (albeit shipped over) and shoot a gun for the first time in my life.

I spent a night with a traditional Xhosa family learning about their culture, food and way of life. They are simple people who live in simple houses, painted in an array of colours. They eat maize for every meal. They sing and dance openly and freely. They are just amazing people.

This is the view from their house. Most of the western world would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for this kind of view. The Xhosas just accept what their land has on offer.

A failed paragliding weekend in Bulwer and a New Zealand backpacker named Leo convinced me to take a 3 day horse trail up into Lesotho. I have never experienced so much pain in such a short period of time. Or experienced being kicked by a horse.

October

Back in Zambia with an extended contract. It was great to be back in Africa.

December

Another birthday spent away from my friends and family. Lucky I have a loving site family who threw me a party with a birthday cake and all!

In line with my tradition of celebrating my birthday for an entire week, I got treated to a weekend at Mutunda Falls in Solwezi and I treated myself to a trip to Inhambane, Mozambique.

December also represents the festive season and all its silliness that it brings. With another Christmas and New Years away from home, I had to find a family who would want to adopt a daughter for the weekend long celebrations, with work chucked in between.

Christmas day was spent with my “family”, we had a nice BBQ and I had a nice chat with the mother. In the afternoon, I was on board the puesdo-Queen Mary with the boys for a bit of fishing and swimming in the water dam. The last time I went fishing with them, we caught nothing and I was thrown off the boat. But this time, Ryno actually caught a big one and 8 smaller ones.

So here’s your written apology.

Dear Mr. Ryno Meiring,
Please accept this apology for the continuous shit I gave you over the past 2 months about your inability to fish. In future, I will endeavour not to give you shit and embrace the fact that you will have your bad days and your good days. Congratulations on the latest catch. I’m sure it’ll be delicious.
Signed,
S xx

Photo courtesy of Joseph Kapira

And the New Year celebrations? I found myself a family and we’re going to celebrate it with style.

Looking back now, man I’ve had some good times. And here’s to many more!

Happy New Years to all of you!!!

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