Howzit? You’re still here?
I probably would have given up waiting for that one last blog post by now. It’s been, what, a month? More than a month! What gives?
Ag, man…eish! It’s been hectic. In the past 30 days, we’ve driven across the US in a rented car, purchased a new car, moved back into our house, installed new carpet in our house, moved our stuff back into our house (which involved hoisting a sofa bed up through a third-story bedroom window), painted nearly every wall in the house, ordered internet service, cancelled internet service, ordered different internet service and a whole bunch of other stuff that required the focus of a blinkered thoroughbred…all while learning how to live in America again.
Sure, we’ve taken time out to enjoy time with family and friends, but until now there just hasn’t been a quiet moment to reflect on the past year, on the experiences we had, on the life we lived in South Africa, on that which was there but now is gone.
Truthfully, several quiet moments have likely come and gone. Instead of filling them with contemplation or remembrance, I played Words With Friends or watched a very sensationalized and very tape-delayed Olympic event. Shame on me. Loathe to admit in writing what I already know to be true, I’ve been putting off this task, as if not summarizing the past year would somehow leave the door open to a swift return to life in South Africa, as if these very characters would fashion themselves into nails and forever seal shut our portal to Pretoria.
As if the 8,000-mile, 16-hour flight didn’t do just that. That is, once we actually took off.
So, you’re right. It’s been quiet lately. These last few weeks flew by, filled as they were with farewell dinners, suitcase stuffings and what what what.
I feel like we haven’t been able to put a bow on the year.
But, if you’re looking for an eloquent tribute to the past twelve months of this wild and crazy life, I’m afraid this post will disappoint you.
I only have a moment to tell you about the rare opportunity we are now experiencing: the chance to have not just one, but TWO final days in South Africa.
See, even though we said our goodbyes, cried our tears, delivered our dog to cargo, checked our six bags, cleared immigration and boarded the plane, we never actually left the country.
Our flight was cancelled at 23:15 last night. Bad fuel valves. We were…stranded?
Three thousand, two hundred and fifty-six. That’s how many photos we’ve taken since we moved to South Africa in June 2011.
The vast majority are not worth mentioning, let alone displaying. Many reinforce the trite stereotypes of Africa: lions in the bush, children at school, life in shanty towns. Some capture universal moments: birthday parties, weddings, holidays. Others fill the frame with great natural beauty: mountains, beaches, sunsets. Some defy categorization, decline comment, dare to be defined.
With such a large, diverse collection, one might think that at least a few shots would rise to the top, like rich cream in a bucket of Du Plooy melk. Certainly, some do. Choosing the best 20 of more than 3,000, though, is a difficult task. Particularly when excluding our favorite safari photos.
That’s not to say that all of the 20 photos below are amazing, or that they don’t fall into the stereotype trap, or that my idea of a good photo isn’t biased by a memory of the moment, or that there were so many candidates to choose from. In fact, I think I narrowed the choices from an original 39, which I tried to pull from a wide range of experiences and travels. Even so, a quarter are from Ethiopia — an obvious overrepresentation of the two weeks we spent there in relation to our year in South Africa.
Long story short, the photos below may not be the “best” for any number of artistic, technical or other reasons, but I hope you enjoy them and vote for the one that stands out for you.
Some of the photos that didn’t make the cut live on my Flickr page.