Double-Double Your Vacation (Part Two)

Hey, everybody! Suz here. Long time, no updates, we know. Things just seem to keep getting busier and busier…Girls Club is rockin’ and I just finished two humongous Peace Corps reports on the project, we organized a huge celebration for Women’s Day, Ben has been busy being the official “Village Tech” as well as doing the detail work on our girls club AIDS mural, and I went home for a week in September. But more on all of that later. Allow me to continue where I left off after our massive double-double-your-enjoyment vacation…

Mid-Service Vacation Part Two: Barrs!

So we dropped off Bob at the airport and a few hours later my parents and brother, Dan, arrived. I was soooo excited to see them! So much so, in fact, that I ran right by Dan when they entered the airport, hugged my parents, then asked where my brother was. Ha! I swear he had grown two feet since I last saw him, so I just didn’t recognize his new tallness.

Barr Family arrives in South Africa!

Our first Barr Family Vacation adventure was getting our rental car. After waiting in line at the rental office for an hour and being specially driven over to their lot, we learned that our “car” was actually a 14-passenger van with more space than most of the public taxis we take everywhere. Ha! We thought it might have been fun to drive it all around the country, picking up random hitch-hikers, seeing a whole elephant without moving our vehicle…but we decided in the end it would probably be best to get something more manageable, so the next morning, a nice little mini-van was delivered to our hotel. It was made for a cosy, but much more comfortable & enjoyable method of transport.

Now that we had the right vehicle, we were ready to see animals at Kruger National Park! We saw tons of elephants (one that nearly walked on top of our car!), giraffes, cool birds, and a first for Ben and me: Rhinos! It was awesome, to say the least. Who doesn’t love African animals?

Rhino in Kruger National Park

The next highlight was a cultural endeavor in Swaziland. What a beautiful place! We drove through endless green rolling hills, small villages, and evergreen forests. Dan helped us keep our eyes out for the Swazi king, but we had no luck spotting him. (Sorry, Dan!) We stayed at a lovely hotel with a delightful staff that serenaded us at dinner. We sat outside in the cool & comfortable patio, candle-light atmosphere, and enjoyed the traditional African music. Such a great “Welcome to Africa” experience for my family! The next day we visited an authentic Swazi village that opens their space to visitors to generate income. We peaked in their huts, hiked to a waterfall, and enjoyed their beautiful singing and dancing. Dan and I even got pulled onstage to participate!

Ben exploring a hut in a traditional Swazi village

Suz learning a Swazi dance onstage

From Swaziland we made our way to St. Lucia, which should actually be named, “Hippo Country.” It’s a cute little town right on the water, where we stayed in a fantastic condo for a week. We enjoyed the nearby smaller national parks, played rugby on the beach & waded in the Indian Ocean, saw hundreds of hippos on the river, and even took in a whale boat cruise!

Dan and Suz on the hippo tour! Awe…

Dan pretending to be a hippo by holding a tooth up to his mouth.

Yikes! “Hungry, hungry hippo” now has a whole new, terrifying meaning!

Whale-sighting from our whale boat cruise. They were swimming all around and underneath us. Mom and I both got a little seasick, but it was incredible to be so close to these amazing creatures!

Our last stop was a chalet in the mountains, near the town of Ladysmith. We went from the mild climate along the ocean to a hot-in-the-day, chilly-willy-at-night environment, but it was fabulous. We drank hot chocolate, played card games, enjoyed tea and breakfast at a cute cafe’ in town, and visited the “smallest church in the world” which apparently is right there in Ladysmith!

Breakfast at the tea house, right next to the “Smallest Church in the World.”

It was awefully sad to say goodbye, again, when we dropped my family off at the airport. (I think I went back to get “just one more look” at them in the South African Airways line at least three times). 🙂 But Ben and I eventually left, a little teary-eyed, but overjoyed with all of the memories from this spectacular vacation.

We’ve been blessed with SO many wonderful memories of family and friends that have come to visit, memories that lift our spirits in the tough times and add to our delight on the days we can say, “This is why we’re here. This is why we’re in Peace Corps.” Memories of a lifetime that we’ll keep close at heart and treasure forever and always. Thank you to our Wilson ‘rents, thank you to Bob, and thank you to Mom, Dad, and Dan, for blessing us with your love and support, and for such wonderful South African vacations. We love you all kudu kudu (very, very much)!