I’ve never taken a three week vacation in my life. (If you don’t count summers in Kansas with the grandparents as a kid) I feel incredibly lucky to have so much time for this adventure. And yet, more than any trip I’ve ever taken, this one has been about balancing the desire to “do it all” with the need to slow down and enjoy the scenery.
The last few trips we’ve been lucky enough to take as a family have been to Mexico, where we sit on a beach and the biggest decision each day is where to have lunch. This trip, I’ve had so many things I’ve wanted to do at each location, but have had to come to terms with the reality that you can’t sprint for three straight weeks, especially with a six year-old. Some times you have to give up the photo opp at the Cape of Good Hope or the cable car ride to Table Mountain in order to spend an hour at a playground or time coloring at the hotel.
It’s a good lesson for us all.
So we’ve had to prioritize our time and vote as a family on what we most want to do. I was surprised and happy when Audrey let go of a few things on her list to, instead, go to Robben Island to see where Nelson Mandela had been imprisoned for 18 of his 27 years of incarceration. Despite the long lines and 90+ degree heat, we all listed it as one of our favorite parts of the Cape Town leg of our trip.
I can’t do the tour justice here, but it was an incredibly moving experience. I spent my teen years riveted to the anti-apartheid movement, participated in boycotts, read books, watched students build a shanty town in the middle of the University of Colorado campus. I recall Mandela’s release more vividly than the fall of the Berlin wall. Scott is much the same, and we even have an official South African ballot framed on our wall at home.
To see Mandela’s cell, to be guided through the prison by a former political prisoner… and to see how far the country has come in just a few decades… It puts a lump in my throat. What an inspiring place.
We also got to see the penguins that were high on our list, visit an amazing cheetah preserve (more on that later hopefully) and hit a couple wineries. Tomorrow we return to the serious again when we’ll do a township tour. But for now, I must sleep.