Last December I was one of the extremely fortunate bloggers chosen to participate in the first #VisitSouthAfrica trip. It was a two-week trip through the country with three other bloggers I’d never met, plus two representatives from South Africa‘s tourism department in New York. Cramming six people who didn’t know each other into a van for two solid weeks? It could have been an utter disaster. Not only was it not a disaster, the group bonded quickly and we’ve remained good friends. (I find myself wistfully thinking of them often.)
In any case, at the end of the trip I was jotting down notes on all we’d seen and done in the preceding two weeks, because it was all getting a bit muddled in my head. We did so much, writing down even short reminders created such a long list it was almost comical – until it sort of started resembling a poem. I finessed a few lines here and there to make it rhyme, and – voila – the following poem was born. I read it aloud to the group on our final morning in South Africa before heading to the airport, thinking it would be a private thing, since it’s full of inside jokes – but they later encouraged me to post it. Although I did publish the poem after I got home, I never got around to publishing it here on my own blog – so I’m finally doing that now.
As mentioned, the poem is full of inside jokes from the trip, but hopefully you’ll also get a sense of how much fun we had – and the extraordinary list of things we did during our two week trip. One thing you should know is that the word “siyabonga” is a Zulu word we learned from our guide in Durban. It means, “we thank you.”
I remain filled with gratitude that I was invited to take part in such an amazing journey, in such a stunning country. I hope someday you get to see it, too.
by Jessica Spiegel, December 2011
Unbelievably, it’s the end of our South Africa tour,
And we’ve so many things to be thankful for.
For puppy toilet paper & a hitchhiker baboon
For hyenas chasing lasers under the moon
For Indian spices & Zulu beer
For a rainy soccer game & vuvuzela cheers
For microlight flights where the guys didn’t die
For a township visit that made me cry
For ostrich kisses & cathedral caves
For bathrobed walks through ocean waves
For midnight drives leading to leatherback eggs
For antelope-y creatures on spindly legs
For G&Ts & biltong snacks on a safari picnic table
For whatever made Derek say a group of bloggers is a “ladle”
For zebras (a dazzle) & giraffes (a journey)
For elephants bathing, for the bacon tree
For hashtag-VisitSouthAfrica & “shut the front door!”
For high tea & sundowners – but wait, there’s more!
For the past two weeks, you can see in our faces
We are so very thankful to have seen these places
We’re humbled by our experience, & we’re not big carousers
So the only word that fits at this point is “wowzers.”