Egypt Chronicles – Cruising the Nile

Slide3

The route – from Luxor to Aswan

IMG_0375

The Nile Adventurer

In April we went on a Nile Cruise. The cruise entails flying to Luxor from where the actual sailing starts. Before cruising though, all the well-known tourist attractions in and around Luxor is being visited. All these are temples, except for the Luxor Museum harbouring artefacts from temples. Not really my cup of tea. On the first day we had quite a full program.

Day 1

After we arrived in Luxor we started with a visit to the Luxor Museum, which paved the way for the rest of the sites, because it was filled with statues and artefacts from temples and archaeological finds. There were even two mummies in the museum. There were a few similar pieces which are also featured in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. One such a piece is the face of a pharaoh who had done away with all the Egyptian gods and declared that there was only one God – the Creator and the only One that should be worshipped. Other similar pieces are horse carts and statues of historical figures.

Our guide on this Nile Cruise tour was an Egyptologist who is very passionate about his job. He is also very patriotic, has strong political views that he is not afraid of voicing and according to him everything and all were invented in Egypt. I realised soon that we would be treated to quite a lot of information we would not always appreciate. 🙂

IMG_8702

As a Bible believer I had a tough time staying focused on what we were being told, because the stories about the pharaohs and the gods and the religions were a bit much and one always tend to weigh others’ truths against your own Truth. Anyway, this is an account then of our Nile cruise for any of you who are interested in coming to visit Egypt and wanting to go on a cruise. If you find personal travel pieces boring and just want to know if it worth the while, here is the short answer: Yes, come and visit Egypt and go on a Nile cruise.

We booked into our cabins on the boat after the museum visit and had time to settle in a bit. Our group occupied two ‘ships’. The bigger bulk stayed on the larger of the two boats, The Mövenpick Sun Boat, and we booked into the smaller one, called The Nile Adventurer. The latter is a quaint little boat with nice interior, a pleasant atmosphere and friendly and efficient staff. The food is excellent and way too much on a way-too-regular basis.

 Slide10

Just before sunset on Monday, we left by bus to visit the first temple. There we saw the sun set over Luxor which was a beautiful spectacle. From there we went to see a sound and light show at the Karnak Temple, where we were met by the governor of Luxor. Here listened to an overly dramatic audio narration – which sounded as if was made in the 1930’s – of the history of the gods, starting with someone calling himself the ‘god of the first day’. My attention wondered a bit, but I practiced taking photos in the dark with my newish camera, while another ancient proud himself that he married four of his own daughters and bragged about the amount of children he had with them. Later we moved to a different location nearby in an amphitheatre-like pavilion and were treated to another half to three quarters of an hour’s sound and light narration.

 IMG_8981 IMG_8979

Day 2

On the second, hot morning of the cruise we visited the Valley of the Kings, the Habu Temple, where in 1997 seventy plus tourists were killed by terrorists, the Hatshepsut Temple and the Collossi of Memnon. All the hieroglyphs and tombs etc. were starting to look the same to me by this time. One must admire the tenacity with which the ancient Egyptians recorded their doings, especially because they did it in stone. Some of the artifacts here are really well preserved. And, now I can say that I have seen the actual mummified body of Tutankamen, the boy king. Mmm.

 Slide22

After the very hot morning, we were welcomed back on the boat with nice warm cloths to clean our sweaty faces and fresh lemon and mint drinks to refresh us. We had a late lunch and we finally started sailing to Esna.

Cruising was my favourite part of the week. We sailed all along the Nile, passing farmed lands and very small villages. Time had stood still alongside the Nile. They are still attending to their crops the way they did a few thousand years ago. On the one hand, I thought, man, these people have so much to learn and they could benefit so much by new farming methods, machinery and expertise help. And on the other hand, I envied them for the absolute quietness, simplicity and peace in which they live.

Maybe this was how life should be. Living from the land, from the hand to the mouth, just sustaining yourself and those living with you. It is mind blowing to find that in a country which had become modernised up to a point, you can still find this way of living. And what blows my mind even further is that the land alongside the Nile still belongs to these people, living their modest lives. It is not yet monopolised by big food corporations or holiday consortiums. Weird. And wonderful. If we are here for the next three years, we will go on the cruise again and again, because this passing by of peaceful Nile existence, and not the glamourous temple visits, was what I enjoyed most.

IMG_9306 IMG_9337 IMG_9352 IMG_9364IMG_9442IMG_9321

Day 3

We sailed to Edfu in the early morning and got off the boat to visit the Edfu Temple. This was probably the most fun visit of the cruise, because instead of getting into an air-conditioned bus, we got on horse carts and were driven through the busy town’s streets to the site. At least now we can say that we have been in a horse cart traffic jam too. I never thought I would be able to add that to my life’s CV. It was very hot here again, and we moved from shade to shade and had our first and only ice cream afterwards. We didn’t enjoy the harassment of the stall owners that much of course, but it’s compulsory of any Egyptian experience.

IMG_9464

We were back on the boat for lunch again and cruised to Kom Ombo, a lively town with colourful shops lining the docking space. Here we visited the Kom Ombo temple at night with its small museum housing quite a collection of stuffed crocodiles.

Slide38 IMG_9677

After the visit to the temple it was galabeyya (Egyptian dress-like attire) party night on both boats. It was a lot of fun with a Bulgarian lady friend with camel riding trousers on dancing the night away and a South Korean friend perfecting the Gangham Style. We macarena-ed with our American friends and the boat staff joined in and showed us a few Nubian dance tricks. Michael looked like an oil baron and Deon and I looked cool in our ‘dresses’ too, I think.

IMG_9865 IMG_9784

Day 4

Ah, Aswan. We cruised to Aswan and had a full day full of pleasant surprises in this surprise of a town. I know, I’m surprised myself that I use the word so many times. 🙂

We visited the Philae Temple, to where you have to go by bus first and then by boat. The temple is situated in a beautiful area filled with water and rocks and plants, unlike any other terrain we have seen so far in Egypt. It almost feels as being in another country. It was still hot, so we did some shade hopping again.

We went back to town by bus and then caught falloukas – these have engines – to the botanical garden on an island in the Nile. The garden was planted by Lord Kitchener, when he was in Egypt. At least he did some good in other areas of the world, because he wasn’t a popular man in South Africa back then. (If you don’t know why, go and do some research about the Anglo-Boer War between the British and South Africa.) Plants and trees from all over the world were imported to be planted there. The gardens are being looked after and is a peaceful haven in the desert. On the other side of the garden is a huge sand dune or a small mountain full of sand – a beautiful piece of earth.

 Slide45

Our next stop was a Nubian village. The Nubians are an ethnic group who originated in modern-day Sudan. They are a little darker of skin than the rest of the Egyptians, are very friendly and like to paint their houses in colours – mostly shades of blue, which is absolutely beautiful. We visited a home where we met the family’s pet crocodile kept in their sink and drank some good mint tea. Real nice green mint tea, like the Moroccans make it.

 Slide48

We rested a bit on the boat after which we had an appointment for high tea at the old Sofitel Cataract Hotel, where the likes of Winston Churchill, Agatha Christie, Jimmy Carter, Princess Diana, Tsar Nicholas II and Queen Noor hung out regularly. It is said that Ms Christie wrote part/s of her novel ‘Death on the Nile’ there. So, for me this was a real treat. The wind started blowing fiercely, which provided a nice breeze in the early evening and we had our ‘tea’ on the lawn in front of the hotel. The view is spectacular with the Nile ‘forking’ here underneath it and the one leg flowing pass the one side of the hotel. At a little table outside on the terrace I could swore that I saw Ernest Hemmingway’s son creating a best seller. (I even have a photo to ‘prove’ it!) The rooms are beautiful and old Englishy and just sooo romantic. I could almost see Agatha sitting in her room behind her desk, putting words into Hercule Poirot’s mouth on her old type writer. I took way to many photos of the hotel’s interior. I’m ashamed to say that I will treasure this visit more than the sight of the mummified body of Tutankamen. But, hey, I must be forgiven, because I’m a writer…

 Slide52 Slide55 IMG_0449

Back at the boat we were welcomed by a band and dancers and being entertained on the dock for about half an hour before heading for dinner and a bottle of wine on the deck – the most Deon and I had ever paid for a pretty ordinary bottle in our entire lives…

Day 5

We were nearing the end of our cruise. We left the boat after breakfast and gone to the Aswan Dam by bus. We got out and ‘inspected’ the dam wall in the still strong blowing wind. From there we went to Abu Simbel – probably Egypt’s most written about temple. Most people drive there from Aswan, which can take up to four hours (just to get there and then you still have to drive back) and can be rather uncomfortable in the heat. Fortunately, we flew and what a sight it was, flying over Lake Nasser for the whole way! It is such a big body of water and it is beautiful to see the water veins flowing into each other from high above. When we landed the water still stretched to the horizon in the direction of the Sudanese border.

The visit to Abu Simbel was pleasant, because even though the sun was warm, there the breeze blew the heat away. After the visit we went back to the airport and flew home to Cairo where we were greeted by very uncharacteristic icy weather in the middle of April!

It was a most enjoyable trip, which for us comes up annually while we are staying here. I can’t wait to go again. Hopefully, we will be spared and the security situation will stay good and we can repeat it next year.

Travel Tip: Abercrombie & Kent is a wonderfully, professional and competent international travel company to use with when planning a Nile cruise.

collage nc1 collage nc2 collage nc3 collage nc4 collage nc5  collage nc7collage nc6

© 2015 – I, Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock tries hard to be a Proverbs 31-woman – excellentest wife, finest mom, greatest lover and successful ‘wordpreneur’ all at the same time. I temporarily share my living space in Cairo, Egypt with my husband, young-adult son, the building’s ginger cat, a stuffed toy dog, named Ike – and the space in my head with way too many ideas and multitudes of story characters, to functioning normally.

Advertisements

Thoughts on Experiencing Similarities and Differences in Countries and/or Cities you Visit for Only a Few Days at a Time

(I always wanted to write something with a long title like this. My favourite movie title is The Englishmen who went up a Hill and came down a Mountain.)

Countries under Discussion

France (a bit of the South and Paris, ten days)

England (only London, four days)

Netherlands (only Amsterdam, three days)

 10885207_10205607366770318_7108235028516644001_n

One can hardly be an expert after visiting a country or even only a city for three or four or ten days – and for the first time! But we can make deductions, relate experiences and emotions and share observations after visiting places – even if it is after only such a short time. After all – that is why we do the lovely, beautiful, excruciating thing called travelling. So add if you want to, differ if it entertains you, but please don’t digitally crucify me for my inadequate, subjective views and comments on three great places my feet had the pleasure to touch.

We as a little family visited a few destinations in Europe at the end of last year through the beginning of this one. My husband is a seasoned traveller and had visited many countries beyond our continent’s borders, but for our son and I, it was the first trip beyond Africa and the Middle East. we looked forward to it for a long time and we weren’t disappointed. It must actually be ‘normal’ for South Africans like us to visit Europe at least once in a lifetime, because that is where our origins are. But travelling is a privilege and most of the time we can’t just jump on a plane and go wherever we dream to go. For us, the opportunity came up and we grabbed it with all fours.

 man in pau

France

After hoping and dreaming, we finally made the trip to visit to a friend of mine, residing in the south of France for the last five years. My friend, Mirella, her husband, Christian, and two sons, Daniël and Xavier lives in Sainte Colome, near Arudi, near Pau, near Toulouse in the south western part of Aquitaine province of the country, very close to the border with Spain. This border is lined with the beautiful Pyrenees Mountains and counts as some of the finest of God’s creation.

Our initial introduction with the French people wasn’t that heartening. Speak English at the train station in Toulouse and you are rudely ignored. Fortunately, angels roam the earth and an English speaking one was waiting for us at the ticket machine to help us obtain three tickets to Pau. Once in the countryside, people showed us the nicer side of being French. We breathed the good, clean Pyrenees air for seven wonderful days, we watched the world around us in awe, threw a snowball for the first time ever (!) and admired people’s skills in the soft, white, cold wonderland.

Paris was everything I hoped it would be and more. We visited all the famous tourist sites, enjoyed the food and watched the Parisians stroll up and down the Champs Elysees dressed as if it is a catwalk. We were there for only three days, but somehow we ended up going to the Eiffel Tower every single day! We left for London on the evening before the Charlie Hebdo incident. I don’t know if we will ever have the opportunity to visit Paris or the French countryside ever again, but I know that there is a smile reserved in my heart for my memories of France. I can’t help to wonder what Paris will be like in the summer though?

Things we Observed and Experienced while Visiting France for Ten Days

  • It is true. The French don’t like hearing English. We tested it. Every time my husband started an enquiry in his friendliest English, he was impolitely disregarded. I then stepped in, beginning in Afrikaans, our native language, and then flowed over into my version of ‘French’ – English camouflaged in a terrible French accent. It is quite easy to ‘bend’ English words so that they sound We were successful in all our missions this way – from asking directions, to exchanging pleasantries to buying cough medicine!
  • The French seems educated. (They definitely sound educated speaking such a beautiful language!) Everyone They sit on benches and read. They read on the bus, the boat, the train. Men read, women read, children read and grandmothers read to children who can’t read yet. It is just lovely to watch this passionate affair the French people has with books!
  • It also seems that all people living in France can speak French. (It might sound obvious, but it is not necessarily a given that people naturally speak the language of the country they live in – see my observations about London later on.)
  • Being South African and coming from a country where the crime rate is unacceptably high, one of my first observations of the French countryside was the absence of fear. In the village where my friend lives, they don’t even lock their doors (as some of those hundred-plus-year-old houses don’t have keys anymore!) There is a sense of safety and also an absence of aggression – something I had recognised and acknowledged within myself for the first time. I am still shocked to appreciate how living in a society with no respect for life changes you and make you angry all the time. And I am deeply saddened by it, because it had become the psyche of ‘my people’ back home. It is something I have to ponder on and to do something about.
  • I’ve touched the point above already that the French knows how to dress. They really dress elegantly and if you are clothed in the most common South African brand winter clothing, you stand out a little bit. Luckily it didn’t rain much, so we wore our ‘classier’ stuff the two remaining days. But with my weathered hiking boots I still looked very Boer-like in the presence of all those designer heels. Anyway, my feet were happy. And so was I.
  • In spite of them not liking English, the French are friendlier than one thinks and they are pretty likable people in the end.

 IMG_6046

London

All I wanted was a beer in a real pub and sitting on the Underground, being in shops and walking in the streets of London and listening to proper English accents, like our friend Simon’s. Boy, was I disappointed! Only twice in the four days did I hear that. The rest of the time our ears were entertained by almost every language under the sun – Arabic, Italian, Russian, other Eastern European sounding languages, Greek, French etc. In shops, we were served by foreigners. The Underground was packed with people from elsewhere. London is a little world in its own.

In spite of not hearing much proper English, we really enjoyed our time in London. We walked, saw touristy places, we went to see Phantom of the Opera at West End, we went to the movies and checked out James Bond stuff in the British Film Museum. It rained and it didn’t and it rained and it didn’t. And we had that pint in a real pub – the Sherlock Holmes Pub, nogal!

I liked visiting London and won’t cry if I have to visit it again. I do still have a dream to go watch a tennis match at Wimbledon. And I want to still see the English and the Scottish and the Welch and the Irish countryside…

Things we Observed and Experienced while Visiting London for Four Days

  • There is no good coffee.
  • There is no good coffee.
  • There is no good coffee.
  • Did I mention that the coffee there isn’t any good?
  • London appears very orderly. Properly English. Things work. That’s nice. I liked that. Once upon a time, things worked well in South Africa too. We learned from the Germans and the Dutch and the French and the British. But somehow we’ve lost our orderliness. And a lot of other necessities too.
  • People flock to England to get an education. Some for real. Some under false pretences and get stopped at the airport – something we witnessed.
  • On that point, London had become a place of refuge for many people from many different countries. It brings along its own challenges for the authorities, because of socio-economic issues and increasing extremism, but for most people it had become a place where they can go to be safe and to make a new life. It might be a hard life and difficult to get ahead, but nevertheless, it is a place to where they can go to get saved from where they come from.
  • And also on that point. One gets a feeling of disconnectedness amongst the masses. Most people appear alone and distant and lonesome. Maybe it is because they had to disconnect from their roots and they just didn’t reconnect again. I suppose it is not out of the ordinary. Living in a foreign land does that to a person.

 IMG_9541

The Netherlands

Amsterdam was a breath of fresh air. Okay, with a hint of marijuana near the train station. We spend a whole day walking along the canals with our friend, Rudi, who lives there. We ate biltong at an Aussie restaurant/bar that is nice enough to sell South African delicacies for the homesick Springbok supporters who watch rugby matches there. It was bloody cold.

It must be impossible to know for real, but statistics shows that there are more than 600 000 bicycles in Amsterdam. They have their own parking lots – like those for cars. Everyone is riding a bike – young and old. And sometimes the young with a mom or a dad. It is an overwhelming phenomenon, the bikes of Amsterdam. We visited the places everyone visited, rode on a boat in the canals and we walked and walked and walked. And it was bloody cold.

I loved Amsterdam. It was fun, relaxed and relaxing and we just had a great time. And we would love to see the rest of the Netherlands. Maybe in springtime…

Things we Observed and Experienced while Visiting Amsterdam for Three Days

  • The Hollanders are super friendly. Maybe they are always a little bit high with all the fumes hanging around (wink-wink) or maybe that’s just the way they are.
  • They are helpful people. Apart from their friendliness, they have this wonderful way in which they serve you. Really caringly serve you.
  • There also is an absence of fear.
  • Order and education is a visible priority. It’s Europe.
  • In Amsterdam everyone speaks Dutch. The population looks a bit like that of London with white, black, Asian, Middle Eastern etc., working everywhere, but the difference here is that every white, black, Middle Eastern or Asian mouth speaks Dutch! It is so weird, but also so wonderful! And we can understand them a little bit. If they speak slowly.
  • As in the case of London, Amsterdam is also a sanctuary for people from all over the world. Their tolerance throughout history made people flock to the city and it harboured many people in need of shelter in the past and still in the present.

These were just a few comments. I’m still working on my observations about living in Egypt. Maybe I will only write about that at the end of our time here. That is after all a whole different ballgame.

© 2015 – I, Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock tries hard to be a Proverbs 31-woman – excellentest wife, finest mom, greatest lover and successful ‘wordpreneur’ all at the same time. I temporarily share my living space in Cairo, Egypt with my husband, young-adult son, the building’s ginger cat, a stuffed toy dog, named Ike – and the space in my head with way too many ideas and multitudes of story characters, to functioning normally.

Om die lewe te celebrate

eilat

Gewoonlik kom families bymekaar om troue of begrafnis te hou en net soms in hierdie gelooflose samelewing nog as iemand (klein of groot) gedoop word. By begrafnisse huil almal saam oor die verbygaande aard van ons almal se bestaan en ook oor die familielid in die kis wat eers weer in die lewe hierna te siene sal wees. Dan, daarna kuier hulle ‘n hond uit ‘n bos uit, sodat hulle nie eens die tannies van die sustersvereniging raaksien as hulle die stukkies verlepte blaarslaai wat uit die broodborde op die grond geval het, optel nie.

Troues is darem gewoonlik meer heuglik, want almal ‘oe’ en ‘aa’ oor die pragtige jong bruid en netjies gemanikuurde bruidegom in hulle ontwerpersklere – hoewel trou deesdae so duur geword het, dat net die mees bevoorregte familielede dit tot by die bruilof maak. Kinders is nie meer by onthale welkom nie en soos wat die jong geslag trou, word pa en ma se ooms en tannies ook nie meer genooi nie, waarvoor dié geslag nie juis kwalik geneem kan word nie, want families ken mekaar nie meer verder as pa en ma se broers en susters en kinders nie. Om verskeie redes natuurlik. Ons geslag het mos weer ‘n groot trek begin. Families raak oor die aardbol vesprei – van Kanada tot Australië, Irak tot die Verenigde Emirate en hier plaaslik enige plek van Pietersburg/Polokwane, tot in die Kaap. Dis nou uitgesluit die spul wat te kwaad of te skaam is vir mekaar (soos dit maar in die meeste normale families gaan).

Maar daar is ander tye vir families en vriende om andersins ook bymekaar te kom, hoewel ek nog nie by baie van hulle was nie. Ons familie het een jaar ‘n paar siekbeddens beleef. My tannie en niggie is deur kanker skrikgemaak, maar is albei na chemoterapie en bestraling ‘skoon’ verklaar. Ekself het my tweede hartoperasie gehad. En al het die operasie baie vinnig gekom en gegaan, het ek en my klein gesinnetjie van drie maar weer deur al die doodgaan-emosies en fases waardeur hartpasiënte maar gaan, gewroeg. Voor ek in is, het een aand vir my man en naby vriende gesê dat ek ‘n fees wil hou as ek oorleef om saam met hom en ons seun en die lewe te celebrate.

En ons het. Een aand, vier maande na die operasie, het ons gesin en vyf van ons vriende en hulle kinders, tydens ‘n toer in Israel, almal wit klere aangetrek en langs die Rooi See in Eilat, die lewe gevier – met een klein botteltjie J.C. le Roux, wat ons vir ons huweliksherdenking die vorige maand by ‘n restaurant persent gekry het. Dit was ‘n beskeie geleentheid, maar het ‘n groot indruk op my gemoed gemaak en daar gelos.

‘n Paar maande later was ons by wat my tannie se 75ste verjaardagpartytjie moes gewees het, maar  my oom het die geleentheid eerder gebruik om my tannie se gesondheid te vier. En dit het my ook bygebly, want oupa Koos het ouma Mienie se lewe gevier asof hulle twintig is en asof die lewe voor hulle lê. Dié twee is intussen al mooi oor die tagtig.

Miskien moet ons minder ernstig wees en net so ‘n bietjie minder oor werk en geld en veiligheid worry en die familievetes vergeet en die mense wat ons liefhet die tyd en erkenning gee wat hulle verdien. En nie wag totdat die dood een van ons in die gesig staar voordat ons mekaar se lewens vier nie. Miskien moet ons net soms vir sommer geen rede nie, ‘n fees reël om saam die lewe te celebrate.

Sê sy wat in die middel van die wêreld weg van familie en vriende sit…

 

© 2015 – Ek, Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock probeer hard om ‘n beste eggenote en minares, goeie ma en ‘n suksesvolle ‘woordpreneur’ te wees. Ek deel op die oomblik ‘n leefwêreld in Kaïro, Egipte, met my man, ons jong, volwasse seun, ‘n gemmerkat, ‘n speelgoedhond, besoedeling, skreeuende immans en te veel storiekarakters in my kop om ‘n normale lewe te lei.

Ideas for Clearing your Head and get Ready for a Good Writing Year

1 unfinishedmancom

At the end of a year and before the next begins, it is a good idea to spend some time ‘taking stock’ of our lives. During the next few days, get your journal or a notebook, go and sit in a quiet place and contemplate. Then make two lists.

List 1

List the following in your ‘To think about’ list:

  • Difficult choices you had to make;
  • Changes that occurred in your private and working life;
  • Mistakes you made;
  • Names of people you have to ask forgiveness for or to forgive. (Then forgive them.)
  • Bad things that happened to you or around you;
  • Problems you have that is still unsolved;
  • Good surprises;
  • Good things that happened to you or around you; and
  • Things you are thankful for.

Take Time to Think in Between

Take some time to think these things over. If you have gone through an exercise like this last year, go through your lists and mark the things that you wanted to do, but didn’t.

List 2 

Make another ‘To do’ list about the following:

  • Things that you really wanted to do during the last year, but didn’t;
  • Things you want to change – personal and workwise;
  • A few things on your ‘bucket list’ you want to do the coming year;
  • Things you want to do for someone else; and
  • Solutions to solve those unsolved problems from your first list.

Get into Some Creative Action

  • Now that your head is (hopefully) clearer, turn the page of your journal or notebook and write down as many story ideas you can think of if you are a fiction writer.
  • If you are a non-fiction writer, jot down ideas for articles, booklets etc.
  • From then on, take one idea per day from your last list and free write about it.
  • After free writing, tackle one thing on your ‘to do’ list and write down what you are going to do about it. Write down small goals and keep to it. Revisit this list weekly to see how you progress and make adjustments if needed.
  • After you have done this, take time to sit somewhere quiet to think and relax.
  • Spend some time with your loved ones.
  • Make a habit of these four steps by repeating it at least weekly.

Enjoy your time of rest.

 

© 2014

I, Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock tries hard to be a Proverbs 31-woman – excellentest wife, finest mom, greatest lover and successful ‘wordpreneur’ all at the same time. I temporarily share my living space in Cairo, Egypt with my husband, almost-university-student son, the building’s ginger cat – and the space in my head with way too many ideas and multitudes of story characters to live as a normal functioning human being.

 

An Awkward Love Letter

ons hande

 

My dearest husband,

This might just be the most awkward love letter I have written to you so far. Today is our wedding anniversary and I realised last night that today, I will be married for longer than I have been single. And that we know each other now for a quarter of a century already.

It made me think, because it feels only like a blink-of-an-eye away that I was woken by my sister with breakfast and sparkling wine in bed, excited that day big day had finally arrived! But, thinking about it a little bit more, I realised that quite a lot can happen in a ‘blink of an eye’. I remember (not necessarily in the correct order…)

  • Communism fell and so did the Berlin wall.
  • We watched the war in Iraq on the TV in the evenings after work.
  • You went on a course to Chile for four months and five days and while you were gone, the world seemed to turn asymmetrically around me.
  • Your youngest sister got married while you were away.
  • There was conflict in the Middle East.
  • You came back and the balance of my little world was restored.
  • We became engaged without you ever asking me to marry you.
  • We got married. In between these two undertakings, I don’t remember anything else happening.
  • When we got married it was trendy for anti-marriage campaigners to say that “marriage’s purpose had been served”.
  • The ANC had been unbanned and Nelson Mandela was released from prison.
  • There was conflict in the Middle East.
  • You travelled abroad for work.
  • Apartheid had fallen and we (South Africa) had our first real democratic elections.
  • Three new babies had been born into the family in the meantime.
  • Racism started to change its face – not just in South Africa, but all over the world.
  • You travelled abroad for work.
  • Political correctness entered our world subtly.
  • There was conflict in the Middle East.
  • South Africa had been allowed back into the sports world and the Springboks had won the Rugby World Cup.
  • We had misfortunes at getting pregnant.
  • I had a heart operation…
  • …during which I was pregnant and didn’t know (the hospital made a God-intervened mistake by not testing my urine before the operation)…
  • …and medical experts advised us to have our son aborted…
  • …which we refused…
  • …and he survived and was born healthy…
  • There was conflict in the Middle East.
  • I left my job after ten years.
  • I got another job.
  • There was conflict in the Middle East.
  • You travelled abroad for work.
  • Our son grew up to become a lively toddler and the love and centre of our lives.
  • I had another traumatic operation, but by God’s grace we go through that too.
  • My father died.
  • You and I travelled abroad together for the first time. We vowed never to travel without our son again. So far we haven’t.
  • Crime became profitable in SA.
  • There was conflict in the Middle East.
  • You went on a year-long course – fortunately close to home.
  • My beloved brother died.
  • India had a huge earthquake.
  • Our son went to school.
  • You travelled abroad for work.
  • One day planes started flying into buildings in the USA. More than 3000 people died.
  • This started new wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We watch it on TV. Again.
  • Al Qaeda became World Enemy no. 1.
  • Crime became worse in SA.
  • There was conflict in the Middle East.
  • I quit my job.
  • I had another heart operation.
  • Pluto was downgraded to not being a planet anymore.
  • It became legal to murder your own child when he/she is still a foetus.
  • There was conflict in the Middle East.
  • Saddam Hussein vanished.
  • Saddam Hussein was found.
  • Saddam Hussein was executed.
  • The Springboks had won the Rugby World Cup again.
  • We travelled abroad for the first time as a family.
  • We decided that I would become a stay-at-home mom.
  • Iran had a huge earthquake.
  • Our son got it in his head to be home schooled.
  • There was conflict in the Middle East.
  • We started home schooling.
  • You travelled abroad for work.
  • We travelled abroad six times more.
  • Turkey had a huge earthquake.
  • The world learned about tsunami’s when more than 230 000 people died in South Asia.
  • During the course of the last seven years four family weddings and three births occurred.
  • You travelled abroad for work.
  • There were divorces and remarriages in our family.
  • Uncles and aunts died. The older generation was leaving this life. A younger generation was getting older.
  • There was conflict in the Middle East.
  • Marriages between men and men and women and women became legal. Marriage was suddenly popular again.
  • Your father died.
  • Arafat died.
  • South Africa had hosted the FIFA Soccer World Cup.
  • Crime had become an epidemic in SA.
  • One day a man in Tunisia burnt himself to death and started a revolution in his country and in Libya and in Egypt.
  • Syria became a blood bath.
  • Mubarak resigned, Gaddafi was murdered.
  • Our son turned 16.
  • Governments in North Africa changed.
  • Osama bin Laden, the alleged brain behind  the 9/11 tragedy was killed in his hide-out in Pakistan.
  • Governments in North Africa changed. Again.
  • Our son got his learner’s driver licence.
  • There was conflict in the Middle East.
  • We moved to Egypt.
  • A plane vanished in mid-air, not to be found.
  • A few months later, the same type of plane from the same airline was shot down over Ukraine.
  • Boko Haram in Nigeria kidnapped 200 girls and caused havoc in the country.
  • Ferries sank.
  • Planes crashed.
  • Volcanoes spewed.
  • A Muslim extremist group, who make Al Qaeda almost look polite, arose and wants to take over the world. They kill as far as they go.
  • Our son finished school.
  • Pluto may be promoted to become a planet again.
  • Our son turned 18.
  • (There will probably always be conflict in the Middle East.)

These were only a ‘few’ things that came to mind while I was pondering last night away. Through all these years we celebrated anniversaries and births and birthdays and cried at deaths. We have made the best of friends – which we still have – and we had family joys and tragedies. We laughed and we loved. And now we are 25 years older. In the blink of an eye.

One thing we know, and that is that change is constant and that everything changes. The world changes. People change. Ideas change. Trends change. Laws change. Life changes – in the mere blink of an eye.

Even love changes. My love for you changed. I love you more now than I loved you 25 years ago. Thank you for not asking me to marry you and then did it anyway 23 years ago.

You are the love of my life.

Always yours,

VrouQ

 

‘VrouQ’ can roughly be translated to the English non-word ‘wifey’ (from ‘wife’)