Okay, so… We’re in Africa. It was meant to be a big surprise for Brian’s family so I couldn’t write about it on the blog or on Facebook or anywhere until now, and trust me, I’ve had ITCHY fingers to tell you guys about it!
Here’s the reason why we’re here:
It was also Brian’s dad’s birthday the day we arrived. Brian claims he only wanted to come down to watch the rugby world cup finals though.
She is Brian’s niece and the first little one in the family. Brian is now a proud uncle and Debbie and Dave are grandparents, or nana and kakwani, as they say around here. The little one is called Hannah Rae and her last name is Schmidt, except when Rebecca and Kurt went to get her a Moçambican passport the officials accidently left out the M in it. Oops. Only in Africa. Luckily, Bex and Kurt noticed it and it could be corrected.
Okay so to take it from the beginning, it was meant to be the other way around. Bex and Kurt were supposed to come and visit us in Sweden this coming winter. We had done the whole “no, there are no polar bears in the streets” and “no, your noses won’t fall off from the cold” talks and even shaken hands to be sure this trip was happening. Then Hannah happened instead.
When Brian and I made the plans for the long trip next year, we decided he should go and visit his family during low season after the baby was born and I should stay at home, to save money for our trip. But when the time came closer and Brian all of a sudden hurriedly decided to go down in a few weeks, I realized it would be another year and a half – at least – before I’d see the family again. So I came along. We now have two weeks of glorious heat and sunshine and valuable family time to charge our batteries for another winter in Sweden.
I don’t know anybody else who would risk it and decide to make a trip to Africa a surprise, but Brian was certain it would work. And it did, almost, only Debbie found out after we had forgotten to mention the whole surprise detail to granddad Alan in London. So Debbie and a friend of the family, Ursula, were the only ones knowing we were coming down and had to keep it a secret for three weeks. Ursula was on the same flight from South Africa as us and we met with Debbie at the airport here in Vilanculos. This was on Friday last week, just after lunch, and we drove to the office where Dave was sitting working by the computer. Brian and I hid on the back of the bakkie (pickup truck) as we drove in and then jumped out and quietly sneaked around the corner. “I didn’t forget about your birthday present, Ursula brought it from South Africa” Debbie called to Dave and then we started singing Happy Birthday and walked up to the open windows of his office. He looked up and said, surprisingly calm, “You’re a bit lost!?” Brian’s dad isn’t known as the emotional guy but there was no doubt he was happy to see us and touched by the fact that we walked in from nowhere on his birthday. Later that evening Ursula called him and asked how it all went. He said “I can’t believe they managed to travel around half the world like this without me knowing it – I mean, I know everything!”
We then had to continue keeping a low profile during the weekend since Bex and Kurt and the baby hadn’t returned and we wanted to keep it a surprise for them as well if we could. Expecting nothing, they called from Maputo and said they’d stay for another couple of days for some more shopping before heading home. We then had to make a difficult decision – do we tell them and ruin the surprise or don’t we tell them, and when they show up eventually they’ll say “why didn’t you say something!?” Dave came up with all sorts of work related reasons why he needed Kurt back in town but when nothing seemed to get them home he told Kurt we were here. Kurt went “Ooooh!” and promised he would get Bex and the baby home as soon as he could without telling her the real reason.
We were only expecting them back as of tomorrow and were quite surprised when we had just finished watching the rugby finals today and got an sms that they were only an hour away! We had to quickly hide some obvious evidence of our presence, like an extra car in the parkway, and then we just waited. As they got here, Brian and I waited in the lounge and then walked out so that Brian met Bex in the doorway of the dining room. She stopped, stared at him for a couple of seconds the way you do when you can’t really place a person in their right context, and then she started crying. Which soon turned into laughing and tons of questions about what was going on. Surprise!
It turned out there was a surprise in store for us as well, although just a smashing coincidence. Not only are a lot of our old friends in town, but Renoir is here. He is Brian’s best friend and colleague during many years in the diving business here in Vilanculos while he lived here. Thesedays Renoir works in northern Moçambique and we haven’t seen him since New year’s 2009-2010 I think. None of us dared hoping he’d be here now and didn’t even ask. Not very surprisingly, the two boys meeting up again on Friday night meant numerous beers and coming home just before sunrise.
All in all it’s so great to be back and it’s really nice being here in autumn instead of the during the mad rush around Christmas and New year’s when the town is packed with tourists. Unlike the past few years we didn’t plan the trip down a year in advance, book tickets six months in advance and start packing two months in advance (me, not Brian). We only had three busy weeks and then it was time to go. Arriving here it felt like we had been gone for two days. We jumped up on the back of the bakkie as usual and enjoyed the afternoon sun in town. The climate was also a bit easier to handle than usual, instead of coming from ice cold winter to insanely hot summer we now went from a sunny autumn day back home to a nice spring day here.
Well instead of waffling on about it all, I’m just gonna go to bed now, listen to the sounds of the African night and fall asleep with Zulu, the family’s Jack Russel, by my legs. And I will do my best to continue blogging some more while we’re here!