maandag 20 mei 2019

The last 7 quick takes from Zulunkhuni

1.  Monday morning. I'm still sitting in my bed; not so much because I am too lazy to get out of it but because I lack an alternative. In our house I can sit on the bed, an uncomfortable fold up camping chair or the floor. I sit on the floor a lot, and on the bed. Never on the chair because it's old and I'm scared that the fabric won't hold me and I end up on the floor (that has already happened, we started with two of those chairs). But it's ok. One more week, and I'm sure that I will miss even this. It's a bit unreal that we have only one week left here. Next week we will move to our house with a choice of a couch, a beanbag, a table with chairs and a day bed all in the living.  And a fridge. Let's not forget the fridg. Well, I won't as that fridge is all that Sophie and Doris talk about. One more week.
 2. There are drums, music and loud singing. There is dancing, throwing of political promises and there is handing out of branded caps and shirts. Tomorrow is election day in Malawi and the last weeks have been marked by the daily arrival of campaign boats for the different parties. Not that the people here care much. When you live this remote it doesn't really matter who the president is. The general opinion here is that effects of his policies will never trickle down to our small village. But any chance for a small party is a good one so when the boats with big speakers and loud music come; you will dance, no matter which party you are dancing with. And when the party hands out free t shirts and caps, you will wear it, whether you believe   in the party or not. I met someone who was wearing a blue shirt from one of the policltial parties. 'Are you going to vote for them?' I asked. She told me that she wasn't going to vote at all because politics did not interest her. I met a man who was wearing a cap from one party and a shirt from another, I cannot believe that he is going to vote for both parties but guess that he is just enjoying his free gifts while both parties are enjoying these walking billboards. 
 3. With our move only a few days away, I could not help myself and started to pack. We don't have much, and I think that, if I worked hard, I could pack all our things in less than an hour. But to me packing is also a bit thearpeutic, a way of finding closure for the season that's ending and preparing for what's to come. While I pack I am a little shocked. All we have, and all we have used for the whole year, will probably fit in 3 suitcases and a backpack. That's not a lot of things and still, we could have brought less. I find clothes we have never worn, toiletries we have never used, books we have never read. And if we haven't touched it for more than a year, it's unlikely that we will use it in Senga Bay so I give away. Again. It's almost embarrassing how much we can give away but in the shame is a lesson to learn. We can live with less than we think. A lot less.
 4. She gets up; her eyes are only just open, she can hardly walk without falling down but despite that she stumbles with determination to her half finished puzzle. She sits down and, still obviously drowsy, finishes it. I smile and she sees me smile so she explains : " I agreed with pspps that I could only finish half of the puzzle before my nap and that I could finish it when I woke up so now I must finish it.' That's Doris, our puzzle addict. Since we got home from our trip she has been doing puzzles all day, every day, in an almost obsessive way. She surprises me though, from doing 12 piece puzzles before we left because that's all she had, to doing her new 100 piece puzzle with focus and determination. She is so different from her sister. So different and so loved.
 5. I've said it before but I married a man with holden hands and an unshakeable determination. The longer we're together, the more I am convinced that he can do just about anything he puts his mind to. Short after we moved here ants moved into our laptop and since then we have had major troubles to start it. After we came back from our trip it didn't start at all anymore and I had given up on it because finding spare parts and repairing a laptop in Malawi just seemed too much to ask. I just hoped that we could get all the data from the harddrive. But it wasn't too much to ask when your name is Hartmut. In our village someone happened to have a broken laptop of the exact same type as our broken one (there are probably only about 20 laptops in our village so that in itself was a miracle) and Hartmut disassembled both and fixed one working laptop out of two broken ones. The new one has our hard drive so nothing is lost and I can continue to carelessly forget to back up my data in other places until it breaks again (and I freak out again.).
 6. This week we had a very cool team visit the lodge. They are busy with a tour around the lake to make a tv series of 6 episodes about the nature, culture and hospitality around the lake as well as a short documentary. The weather had been dark and wet the entire week but the days they were here it was amazing so they could should lots of great footage around the lodge. I'm so excited to see the end product!
 7. It's now afternoon and I did get out of bed. We walked to the village, bought bananas and invited the three village headmen to our farewell party next weekend. We also went to the library, probably for the last time. Actually, all those things were probably for the last time and I  shouldn't overthink that because it makes me sad. So now I'll go and enjoy the time we have left here; watch what's left of the daylight disappear in the lake, hear the waves lap against the rocks, listen to the birds and see the first stars appear. Happy new week!

maandag 13 mei 2019

7 quick honest answers

I often get questions about who I am and who we are and that's why I decided to write a blog with some of the questions asked through instagram. (And also because I lacked inspiration because not that much has happened in the last week.)

1. Where are you from?
 If you ask me as a person, the answer is easy. I am from the Netherlands, born and raised where the flattest land possible meets the sea (in north Groningen). I spend my childhood in a tiny village where the horizon was dotted with windmills, farms and dikes. I lived there until I was twelve. Then my parents moved to Hattem (Zwolle) and because I was too young to stay behind (back then I would have liked to although in hindsight; the move was good) where I lived until I was 18 and old enough to spread my wings. I flew to Kenya for a gap year and that's when I started to grow roots in Africa. When I came back from Kenya I studied in Belgium until I graduated as a midwife and moved to Cape Town.
 If your question is about my family, it gets a bit more complicated because we have as many nationalities as people in our family. Hartmut is born and raised in a German speaking family in Namibia. The girls are born in Cape Town where we got married and lived for 8 years. Now we live in Malawi, a place that has started to mean a lot to us in a short time. So that's where we are from. Sometimes it confuses us, sometimes I worry about my girls' cultural identity, where will they belong? Where will they feel like they belong? But most of the time I feel rich because we get to draw from such a diverse world of traditions, experiences and culture. It's confusing but it's us and I would not want it any other way.
 2. You travelled for so long, how did you do that financially?
 Since we live in Malawi we have lived on a very meager salary that hardly (actually not at all) covered our expenses. We knew that in advance so it was not a problem and when we needed more that we earned, we took some from our savings. Same goes for our trip, our salary continued but was in no way enough to cover a trip (Max 200 dollar a month is not enough for anything really) but we used our savings and travelled on a tight budget. This means that we stayed with friends and family or in backpacker hostels, travelled when possible by public transport and got most of our food in (super)markets instead of restaurants. (That heavily discounted dessert that I got in the supermarket that we eat during our date at the Victoria falls tasted amazing!).
 The last part of the trip, in Malawi was made possible by my parents in law and for that we are very grateful.
 3. Why are you there? Are you a missionary or development worker?
Please define missionairy or development worker ;-). No, we don't get paid by an ngo or mission organisation to be here. And frankly, it kinda bugs me that this is a question I get very often (but thanks for asking so that I can tell you why) as it reveals the believe that a European can only live in 'dark Africa' to help because people in Africa cannot help themselves. Which is not true. The area that we live in may be one of the poorest areas within one of the world's poorest countries and yet, the people don't need me. It's a well functioning society and most people are more content and connected than I have seen anywhere else.   I have been in and out of Africa for 14 years and in that time I was always full-time or part-time working for development organisations. This time in Malawi was the first time that I did not come into a place as a problem solver for problems people sometimes did not even know they had, but as a human being, trying to run a business (a lodge), just like most other people here and that changed a lot in how I was able to relate to people. We weren't as much seen as magical money trees and solvers of all problems and did not need to see the problems before we could see the people living with those problems. Instead, we could just be part of the village, get to know people, be friends and just see people for who they are. That doesn't mean that we haven't helped the village to develop but when we helped it was always because people asked us to help with a problem, not because we told them they had a problem that we then solved for them. This also doesn't mean that I will never work for an ngo again. I think many of them do valuable work that needs to be done and after living here, my passion to help the people of this continent to thrive has only grown.

And about the missionary part; I believe that anybody who calls themselves a christian is a missionary in some way, whether you are paid to do it or not.

 4.  Does life as you live it now make you happy?
 Absolutely! It is not always easy, but tell me a kind of life that is always a smooth ride. It's easy to focus on that grass on the other side that always seems to be greener but I try to always remind myself that we not only chose to be here but also felt called to be here. Realising that we are where God has called us to be, for this season, brings a deep joy and inner peace. And besides that, I am very happy here. I love that every day is different and full of challenges. I love it that I am stretched and forced to learn, to think outside the box and to be creative with what I have. I love to meet and learn from people who have such different ideas and philosophies than the ones I grew up with. And I love it that I have no idea what our lives will look like one year from now, where we'll live and what we'll do. God knows and we will know when we need to know.
 5. What is the first thing you will do in your new house?
 Easy! I'll put bananas in the freezer to make nice cream. We have missed it and nice cream is the main reason that the girls are excited about having a freezer again. If you have never made it, I recommend you to try it too. You peel some bananas, chop them and put them in the freezer. Once they are frozen solid, you can put them in your kitchen machine until they are smooth like soft serve (it tastes lake it too). That's it. You can make it better with cocoa, berries, peanut butter or anything else you fancy but it's great just likw that.
 6.  Do your speak English with your children?
 Yes, but only sometimes when circumstances demand it (like when the girls are playing with other kids who don't speak Dutch or English.) Normally I speak Dutch, sing Dutch songs, read Dutch books and whisper in Dutch that I love them. Hartmut does the same but in German. We have done that from day one and although I was very nervous about it then, I am so glad that we did it. The girls have acquired our languages in the most natural way possible and it would just feel weird to speak a language other than my mother tongue to the ones I mother. We were lucky that the world around us has always been mostly English because as a result the girls speak all three languages. Hartmut and I speak mostly english to each other too (unless we need a code language. In that case we use Dutch, German or Afrikaansb depending on which language the people around us speak.) so our dinnertable conversations are a mishmash of languages and words. The girls don't speak the languages without mistakes; they mix up word order and words and sometimes come up with their own words but I am not worried. They can understand and make themselves understood in three languages, I'm sure that they'll fine tune their skills over time.
 7.  Do you plan your outfits? 
If I would post more pictures of myself online you would probably not ask me this question because the answer would be obvious. My outfit planning is the what's-still-clean-and-suitable-for-the-weather style. That said, I tend to buy clothes in similar colours so everything sort of goes together. And I actually do like to plan outfits for special occasions like weddings and parties.

Bonus question: What are you listening to right now?
My friend Annelies send us a a very thoughtful package with a usb-stick for the girls full of music and an audio book. So at the moment I am listening to the soothing songs from Kapitein Winokio. I can recommend them because they are not annoying and that's quite a feat for children's music. That it's in Flemish is an extra bonus and the fact that the songs stay in my head for days is something I'll live with.

maandag 6 mei 2019

7 quick takes...

 1. Sorry not sorry that I skipped two weeks. I was too busy living in a bubble where days and dates didn't exist. It was fabulous, it was fun. We got to take Hartmut's parents to places that we love and together we went to explore new places. Malawi is a beautiful country with many different landscapes in a relatively small space. We hiked mountains, slept in a national park, swam in the lake, worried about the weather, played games, plucked flowers and watched elephants. Now we are home with a pile of laundry, less then perfect immune systems and a whole lot of memories.
 2. It's 2:42 at night and I'm awake. I don't know why I can't sleep. Well, actually I do but I'm in denial. I had a quarter of a cup of (delicious) coffee yesterday and now I pay the price. Caffeine and I don't work very well together. I have been awake for a while so in my head I went over the travel schedule, relived some of my favourite Cape Town moments and made a potential food plan for when we live in Senga Bay. Now my thoughts are just aimlessly  wandering between memories and dreams and I hope it will lead to sleep. My bed is in a tent in Liwonde National Park. Outside in the distance I hear unfamiliar noises. I can recognise the hippos groan and grunt and a lion roar but there are many other sounds that I cannot place. Suddenly I hear a noise much closer. A shuffling of legs in the bushes, something (or someone) pulling grass. I know what it is and my heart starts to beat faster. In the darkness my hands search for the torch and I get out of my bed as quietly as possible. I walk to the back of the tent where the tent is connected to an en suite bathroom (yay for glamping) and unzip the tent. This can never be done quietly and inside my head I am pleading with the creature outside to not run away. It worked. Right next to the open window is a big hippo enjoying his nightly grass meal. He is so close; I can touch him if I want. I watch for a little bit before he notices my presence and dissapears in the bushes. Now I am wide awake but I don't care. This was cool!
 3. Open, close. Open, close. Her little hands go inside the fridge to feel the temperature of yoghurt. Her smile when she notices that its still cold, possibly even colder than ten minutes ago, is priceless. The fridge is like a magnet to Doris and she just cannot help herself! We've lived without one for over a year now and I think she was too little to really understand them before we left. We spend one day in our new house and in that time she opened it at least twenty times. It made her happy without fail. I wonder how long that fascination stays but I expect that the magic will wear of pretty quickly.    Or maybe it will not stop but switch from fascination with the fridge itself to an obsession with its content. I would understand that. I cannot wait to have a fridge filled with yoghurt, cheese, milk (powder milk is just not the same) and left over food so that I don't need to cook a meal every time the girls are hungry (all the time).
 4. One of my favourite things about this trip through Malawi was that we did it with Hartmut's parents. For obvious reasons (extra hands to help, laps to sit on etc) but also because it allowed us to share a bit of 'our' Malawi. The bits that we love and fell in love with but also the things that are difficult, frustrating and annoying. I can capture many things with words and pictures but you only really understand it when you have been here. It was amazing that they got to spend time at the lodge as well as our new house. We understand that Malawi is not an easy country to travel to and almost nobody will have a chance to visit us here and that's why we are extra grateful that they took the time and effort to come, that they made this holiday possible and shared a bit of this journey with us.
 5. One of the best things about getting older (at least for me) is that I am less restless and have less fomo. I am generally content in my space and don't feel like I have to be everywhere and do everything in order to be happy. But... When I travel somewhere I always prep very well and do a lot of research about the destination. I make sure I know about all the things one can see and do and in my enthousiasm I usually want to do it all! If I planned our holidays without Hartmut's input, we would need a holiday to rest from our holidays because there would be very little relaxing and a lot of gogogo to see all the sights, climb all the mountains and taste all the food. That doesn't work with kids. Kids don't want to gogogo, kids want to be. Sophie and Doris teach me to be. Teach me to stand still, to not need to go away to see and taste and feel, but to stay where I already was. Right outside the tent. Where I can see the flowers, taste their mudpies (not really) and feel the sun on my cheeks. Thanks girls! Maybe in a few years you'll be ready for my gogogo, or maybe it will never happen because you have taught me to just be.
 6. We are lucky that our girls are little lightweights because when we go for long big hikes we carry the girls in our carriers. When they are tired of sitting (or when our backs get tired) they get out and walk themselves. When they sit in the carrier I need to make sure that I pay attention to all the field flowers because when I pass one that they haven't seen yet I need to turn around to give it to them or deal with a grumpy girl for a long time. Both Sophie and Doris are obsessed with flowers and their favourite activity during hikes is making bouquets. We have made a rule that they can only pick one flower from each kind when we carry them because if we don't, we'll end up carrying them and 10 kilo flowers.  It would not be the end of the world because I love flowers, but I also love my back ;-)
 7. Now that we're back home we have plenty of things on our plate. The first thing I need to sink my teeth in is 'getting better'. All the travel hasn't been great for my immune system and I have picked up a bad flu that made the last few days less than fun. The girls are coughing too but are still as active as ever. I hope it won't take long for me to feel better (Hartmut is a great nurse) because the next three weeks we need to host some special guests, train our successors and pack up out life here so that we are ready to move in three weeks. Enjoy your week!
3 generations Jagau at the Manchewe Falls.

Can I live here a little longer please? 

Mosquito nets and a extra bed squeezed between ours makes a cozy nest.

Nobody can escape their hunger for books.

Our guide said that elephants are extra playful in the rain. I choose to believe him because it makes a cold wet boat ride on the Shire river more acceptable.

Little big hikers

My flower girls..

Mount Mulanje with her misty peaks, rugged plateaus and endless fields of flowers was amazing!

woensdag 17 april 2019

7 quick takes...

Reconnecting with friends was amazing

Confession: this blog was written 2 days ago in the plane, but after we landed in Lilongwe I had no desire to switch on the internet on my phone amd reconnect right away. My mind needed to rest after a very fulfilling but rather intense week in Cape Town.

 1.  My head is full and my heart is full. Too full to write. So many memories, so many emotions, so much to be grateful for. Just like last week's blog, I am writing from high in the sky as the plane carries us from Cape Town to Johannesburg. To my right sits Sophie, who's enjoying her muffin and a sticker book. To my left sits my father in law; he is sleeping after he failed to find a sudoku in the inflight magazine. We are so excited to be traveling with them. We may be flying back to Malawi but our trip isn't over yet. The next three weeks we'll explore Malawi with my in laws.
 2. Flying to Malawi feels easy, almost too easy. If all goes well we'll be in Mzuzu tonight. Somehow my head has less trouble comprehending that we can fly in a day to Europe than the fact that we will be back in familiar Malawian territory tonight. Probably because I have never done it before, because our previous trips in and out were by public transport. I won't complain but Sophie and I have agreed that we will plant a tree to offset the polution caused by our plane.
 3. This week has probably been one of the most draining but also emotionally filling weeks of my life. I already knew, but know now even more what an amazing bunch of friends we have in Cape Town. Friends that feel like family, friends where we don't have to show a brave face, friends who ask hood questions that prompt us to really reflect on the past year. Friends opened up their homes for us, freed up time in busy schedules and made us feel so loved  and welcome. I can't help the smile on my face when I think about all the amazing memories we made this week while we reconnected with people whom we missed so much. Of course we loved the pizzas, the ice creams, sushi, dumplings, wine, the beach, the playgrounds and all the other good things Cape Town gave us but it's the people that make this place special. We love you guys!
 4. The fragrances from the foodcourt (a mix of burger king, pizza and curries) mixes with the smell of new clothes, cleaning products and exorbitantly perfumed shoppers. There is music, interrupted by announcements, a mom calls ber toddler who has wandered of to far and a shop assistant cleans with a loud vacuum cleaner. And there is choice, so much choice. Do I go to this shop or the other? Does a bigger 'sale' sign in the window mean that the prices are better? And what's up with the fashion, has it always changed this much in a year? What am I even supposed to like? My head starts spinning, my vision becomes blurree. I went to the mall with a purpose but I forgot what that was.  The moment I walk into a store I lose all ability to make decisions and all I want to do is cry and run away. I hide in a bookstore (because bookstores are never overwhelming) and try to make a list. I know what I need, I can do this. I used to go to this mall all the time. But an hour later I walk out with all my money still in the wallet and the things that were on my list still in the shops. I did not expect this. This extreme reaction to all the choice, the display of stuff that hardly anyone really needs but almost everyone buys anyway. Last week I was in a mall in Windhoek. I did not like it but it wasn't as hard. Probably because this mall in Cape Town used to be so familiar but had become so strange. Not because it had changed so much but because I changed. I am sure that, over time, I could get used to it again but the question is if I want to.
 5. It could have gone eiter way for us and the girls. It could be easy and fun, bringing back many happy memories, but at the same time it could have been confusing and sad, creating a feeling of longing to times that we cannot bring back. Our new tenants invited us for food in their new and our old home and as much as I was looking forward to it, I was also dreading it. What kind of emotions would it bring to the surface? How would the girls react? We loved the house, lived some of our happiest years in that little cottage. It's the place where we became a family; both girls are born under that roof. All was well. As we walked into that very familiar garden, the girls ran to their old tree house that Hartmut made for them and Sophie started telling Doris about their shared adventures there, from times that Doris is too young to remember. We were welcomed and shown around in the house, the people who live their now are old friends and we are happy that our home can now be their home. They are happy there and to my relief none of us had feelings of sadness and regret, no longing or wishing that things were different. We are there where we need to be, in a place that God has prepared for us for this season of our life and that brings so much peace.
 6. After we land in Lilongwe we take a taxi straight to Mzuzu. Tomorrow we'll take the boat to our lodge where we will spend a few days. The girls cannot wait to show opa and oma our house, the lake and the dogs. We cannot wait to experience the place we love so much with them. Next week we will explore Malawi; a safari in a wild park, a couple of days trekking on Mount Mulanje, hikes and relaxing in Livingstonia... This is going to be a real holiday after 5 weeks of fun but intense travel. (And yes, I do know that we are super spoiled and privileged that we can do this, it's not something we take for granted.)
 7.  We are about to land in Joburg. It seems cold and misty. Fortunately we are only here for just over an hour. Hopefully just enough time to go through the passport control and grab a drink before we fly again. And hopefully enough time to find some internet to post this blog. Happy new week!

Ice cream!

Picking a new soap for lake baths at Lush... So much choice!

Back in their own three house.

I'm so proud of these two...

Visiting museums with Sophie is a delight. 

You would smile too if you get a free mocktail.

A little bit of autumn in Cape Town

I'm so happy that we got to squeeze in a stroll through our favourite gardens.

Pre wedding drinks with the cousins. It was so nice to stay with the couple and all the family in one (very nicely decorated) b&b.

The wedding decor was amazing!

maandag 8 april 2019

7 quick takes from Cape Town

The girls on the very early King's day celebration in Windhoek.

Plane food is their favourite

We are all tired after a long day of travel and seeing friends.

You need to make a selfie when you got a much needed hair cut, right?

Sophie and Doris had a fake birthday for the grandparents.

 1.  Hello from 10.000 feet (or maybe more, I have no idea how high this plane flies). We are somewhere mid air between Windhoek and Cape Town. Breakfast has been served and eaten; by me, not by Sophie. She is still savouring every bite of a meal that she has been looking forward to for months. When she heard that our big trip would include some flights as well she jumped up and down with excitement. "I'll get my own tray with my own delicious food, and even my own butter!' Said butter has been eaten with a spoon; the rest of the meal did not dissapoint either. I mean, does life get any better than when you get your own yoghurt, your own reheated chips and egg and your own stale bun? Sophie was in particular very pleased to notice that her child meal included a kitkat which my meal did not. I think that's unfair too and I have been eying that kitkat but don't think that there is even the slightest chance that it will end up in my stomach.
 2. This night I was tossing and turning before I dozed of. Part of why I could not sleep was because I can never sleep well when I need to catch an early flight or bus. I'm too scared that I will oversleep and miss it. But this time it wasn't only that. My head was spinning because I was trying to grapple with where I was, where we were going and what 'home' means. It's been almost four weeks since we left Zulunkhuni and at times, thinking about our life there almost feels like I am remembering a beautiful dream but not something that was real. Now we're going to Cape Town, the place that shaped us most, where we became a family and where we have so many friends. I wonder if it feels like 'coming home' when we land there. And then we spent the past few weeks in Namibia, the country where Hartmut grew up, where most of our stuff is and the place we hope to call home in a few years.  What made my heart even heavier was that erlier yesterday we had to say good bye to my parents and I have no idea when and where I will see them again. Probably in The Netherlands, but when will we go again? The longer I have been away, the less I think about my home country as 'home'. Maybe Malawi is home, eventhough it feels like a dream from another universe now that we are here, it's where we are going back to. Maybe I must not overthink it. In decor shops you can buy cheesy signs that say 'home is where the heart is'. I would never hang that in my house but it helps me to not feel too unrooted. I have left pieces of my heart in many places, with many amazing people I have met along the way. I have many homes.
 3. Long corridors, countless classrooms and hundreds of children in neat school uniforms. A teacher who meets us with a friendly smile, ready to show us around and answer all our questions. Suddenly I suffer from a heavy attack of imposter syndrome. When is this teacher going to tell us that we are wasting her time and walk away? How can we possibly be old enough to be seriously interested in a school for our children? How can it be that our children are old enough to warrant us a way into a school for a tour?  As said earlier, we hope to move to Namibia in the future and although we are not yet sure how close that future is, we need to start thinking about what that future might look like and the education of our girls is a big part of that. Schooling in Namibia is complex, you have the choice between government schools with a quickly declining quality or very expensive private schools. Some of them have waiting lists and you need to commit way before the child acyually enrolls. We are really not sure yet but I liked what I saw. That said; I am also very happy that I still get to do school with them for the foreseeable future.
 4. Most young girls are smitten with babies,  especially if those babies are family. Sophie and Doris have gotten two cousins in the past year and they have a problem with that because they are boys and boys are stupid. When we show them pictures they don't want to look and they say that they'll ever ever play with them. Last week we finally got to meet our nephew who is already 8 months and he is the cutest and smiliest little boy. Hartmut and I are smitten. I thought the girls would warm up to so much cuteness too but they did not. When we wanted to take a picture with all the Jagau grandchildren Sophie even made very sure that no part of her touched the boy and she looked suspicious at him every time he moved. The only time she came close to him was when she got to proof that she was much taller and bigger than him. I am ok with the fact that they don't like boys, they can keep that disposition until they are 21 but it would be nice if they learn to like some boys.
 5. We have landed in the Mother City and I did not need to worry about how I would feel because this place feels like home. The view of the mountain feels comforting, driving the roads familiar and meeting all the friendly faces that we missed so much is heartwarming. After a smooth landing we were awaited with a hand painted sign and chocolate croissants (because we missed those) at the airport by our friends Matt and Sharday and their kids. We organised a big picnic where many of our friends came and it was amazing to catch up and feel so welcome and loved. Many people asked what I missed most and as I sat there, surrounded by my friends and their children, I realised it was exactly that. Not food, not comfort but sitting with other moms, friends, watching our kids play and talking at ease because our lives have similarities and it's easy to belong.
 6. We got up at the crack of dawn and loaded the girls into the car to drive to town. We're not the only ones who are driving  early and now we are experiencing something we did not miss.... Traffic! But it's important to be in town early as we are on our way to Home Affairs to apply for a new passport for Sophie. Wish us luck because in South Africa home affairs is known for long queues, ineffectiveness and lots of frustration. In the best case we'll have a new passport in our hands by the end of the week. In the worst case.... Well, let's not think about that. (Update.. It's already less than ideal. Upon arrival at home affairs there was already a 100 meter long queue outside the building. After waiting there for half an hour the officials came to tell that the systems are down and nobody can apply for anything. What a waste of time. We quickly got back in the car to drive to another branch of home affairs where we are now waiting. I just got a number and we and we are the 133th people in this queue... Today is going to be fun..) (Update 2: We gave up altogether, the system is down nationwide. Nobody can apply for passports and nobody can tell how long it might take. Maybe a day, maybe a week, maybe longer... One of the reasons to go to Cape Town was to apply for a new passort as we cannot do that at the embassy in Malawi but I'm afraid that we'll have to come uo with a creative plan B. )
 7. Besides the passport we have one more official admin obligation at the traffic department this week but all the other plans are fun. Meeting up with friends, visiting the museum, ice cream, sushi, dumplings and a wedding.. It's going to be fun and intense and it's good that we are going on a real holiday when we are back in Malawi 😉. Enjoy your week!

Supporting oma Jagau during a mountainbike race.

Baking cookies in a real kitchen with real butter brings real joy.
Introducing the Dutch grandparents to German party games...