Last spring some of our family were hanging out and the idea of planning a trip back to the Swarts roots in South Africa popped into our minds. We started to think about all the best times to go, making sure we could get it in before Ren turned 2. We started to plan with my sister and her husband who were living in India at the time, trying to coordinate all the many details. We talked about it and then before we knew it, flights were booked, itineraries were sent and the days till we left got shorter and shorter.
I don't know what I was thinking, but I planned to work the day before our journey's began. So late that night I pulled out the suitcases and went ham on the packing list. We were expecting a little bit of every season of weather while we were there, so quickly (very quickly actually) our bags were stuffed to the brim with anything and everything we thought we might need and the next day we boarded a 12hr flight to Switzerland.
We had quite a layover there so we decided to explore Zurich via train and have dinner in the city. IT WAS FREEZING. Like so cold that this thin blooded California chick had to keep on the move to keep warm. We saw so many beautiful buildings and even got to experience their town Christmas Tree lighting. It was magical and I can't wait to go back.
We then boarded our additional 12hr flight to Cape Town that evening and before I could even think from lack of sleep I gave Aaron and myself a melatonin and THEN gave one to Ren. I don't know what source of insane logic possessed me to do that, but when I say it was like the world was moving fast around me, but every thing I did was slower than molasses, that is a complete understatement. For the next 5 hours Aaron and I felt like we were swept away in the half sleep/half awake apocalypse all while trying to respond and tend to the little one who was seemingly unaffected by the melatonin. Needless to say we survived it and will most definitely never make that mistake again.
We made it to Cape Town and boy were we happy to have landed. We stayed at this adorable Air bnb and spent time at the beach, had a family reunion, explored Cape Town, took Ren and Kaia to an aquarium where they saw an entire fish tank dedicated to the Nemo fish and lets just say that may have been the highlight of his trip, jk, the Rhino's were.
Fast forward a few days and we were in Ceres (the land of wine and juice... delicious) where we stayed with family who are literally some of the kindest and most hospitable people around. We spent most days playing in the sand box, hiking up the trials, enjoying every minute with Ouma and Oupa and spending each night with lots of laughs and a nice glass of JC Le Roux Champagne.
Mom and Dad Swart surprised us with tickets to the Aquila Game Reserve just outside of Ceres and it was definitely the highlight of the trip for Ren. Within minutes of starting the safari we saw elephants, followed by rhinos, ostrich, giraffes, spring buck, hippos, lions, zebras and cheetahs. Seeing the elephants and rhinos up close was probably one of the coolest things I've ever seen. There was even one point in the safari where they let you out of the vehicle and serve you wine and let you take pictures on the grounds. We loved it. Watching Ren's face get super excited with each and every turn was worth it all.
The last night in Ceres we got to escape from the littles for a bit while going cliff jumping in the pools. We knew the kids were fine with the grands so we took our sweet time. When we pulled up to the house I heard Ren saying "Momma" but he was crying so naturally I went running. The poor kid had been throwing up since moments after we left and lets just say the next 7 days were the longest days of my life. Ren caught some nasty bug that took several days to kick.
When we made it to Oudtshoorn the next day, we thought the bug Ren had, had finished so we went out for a super nice dinner at a restaurant that was built inside of the home my father in law grew up in, super sentimental, right? It was the perfect evening. Not even 30 minutes into the dinner Ren started throwing up again. So we boxed up our food and quickly went to an urgent care and got him fixed up. The next few days were spent making hilarious memories, like riding an ostrich, exploring throw the Cango Caves and catching up on lots of rest for the little guy.
We then drove onto our next destination in Wilderness just east of the town where my mother in law was born. The route there has a little nickname, called The Garden of Eden and it was exactly that. We spent almost a week in a condo overlooking the ocean. Relaxing, hiking, exploring and shopping. That part of the trip was so refreshing as we had so much time together, reflecting on our journey as a family over the last few years. We also introduced the fam to Ren's second favorite movie, Finding Dory. It was a special time full of love, laughter and lots of rest.
We rounded up the trip with a few more days back in Ceres and Cape Town loving on family. The last day we hiked up Lion's Head and it was probably the most intense hike I've ever been on. It was so steep that at some points that they've placed chains and ladders on the side of the mountain to help you get from A to B. To make matters a little more stressful, a guy fell down the mountain moments before we reached the top and had to be air lifted out. Sooooo yea, that happened. But we did it and I felt like wonder woman at the top, just kidding, more like I felt like wonder woman when I reached the bottom and knew we all made it safely. A little bit of a control freak? I may have been accused of that once before.
Anyways, this trip really was the trip of a lifetime. We got to see so many places and hear about the history of where the Swart family comes from and create awesome memories together. We couldn't have asked for a better 3 weeks. We can't wait to go back!