I call my story the "Quail Trail".
For those of you who don't know the story of the Quails... I
call my CI buddies the Quails or Kwartels (Afrikaans for Quail)
because we have an Afrikaans saying that goes (literally translated)
"As deaf as a quail"...
By 3 o clock the afternoon I was ready to leave and a little less tired. Again the Swissair people assisted me very nicely and about eight hours after departing from Zurich I was welcomed in Newark by Ruth and her daughter and the kidlets. Ruth had arrived about three hours before me and had already dished out all the goodies that she bought from South Africa for the kids. By that time it was about 26 hours since I left South Africa! All I wanted was a nice hot bath and a bed!! Jet lag had set in with a vengeance and I could not be bothered about anything but to fall asleep!! America did not seem half as inviting as I expected it to be.
Fortunately I had experienced this with my previous trip and I knew that it would take a day or two before I would be ready to really start enjoying myself, getting interested in my surroundings...
Images of America and contrasts
Colours!! Shades of the softest green Everything was just almost a little too green!! Coming from South Africa where the leaves were just starting to drop and nature was preparing for a winter sleep it was as if I looked through a piece of green Cathedral glass in the stained glass panel next to my front doorI simply could not get enough of the soft green of the woods that we drove through to Merle's (My friends Ruth's daughter in New Jersey) houseand so many shades of green too. The colours were beautiful even that first evening when we drove to Randolph from the airport in the twilight but it was even better the next morning when the sun was out. On the very first morning I walked out on the deck and simply could not get enough of the lush green of the woods bordering the houses later on I loved going for a walk on a nature trail through the woods accompanying the children on their bikes and just drinking in the beauty of this particular soft green shades of sunlight.
Beautiful homes with Star Spangled Banners on their front porches and wreaths at the front doors and NO fences, barbed wire or high walls around the housesOf course I was privileged to visit friends in what must be one of the most beautiful areas of New Jersey
Water lakes and streams on their doorstep and even a private beach where the children could play and enjoy the long hot summer in safety. So much water was really something to behold coming from a country where water is a scarce commodity in many regions and water restrictions are often part of our lives. Especially where some people don't even have the luxury of water on tap in their homes
The contrast to what we got used to in South Africa over the past few years was almost too much to beholdAgain houses without high walls, barbed wire and Spanish bars in front of all the windows and no security gates and intercoms to announce visitors open doors and cars parked in the driveway without fear of not finding them there tomorrow. I was sad to realise that we had become so used to locking ourselves in in our own homes in South Africa that we did not even notice it anymore
And everything was clean and tidy and no Squatter towns as one approached the citiesSuch a difference to be transported from a Third World country to a highly sophisticated affluent First World environment. Of course I realised this may not be true about all parts of America but the sheer beauty of the area that I first came to filled me with a feeling of freedom and tranquillity.
These first images accompanied me wherever I went on this trip throughout America, Canada and Britain. Everywhere I went I was surrounded with so much beauty!
Then we went shopping!! I remembered being impressed by American supermarkets and the overwhelming variety of goods in the stores during my first trip years ago but walking into the first supermarket was almost too much to take in. I got lost between the shelves and could simply not stop believing my eyes!! My curiosity ran rampant and being a dietitian I could forever scrutinize the various products that are not available in South Africa. It was fun to look out for certain items that we have in South Africa to see if they were included in the huge variety and funnily enough when we started shopping to do some traditional home cooking for Ruth's children some basic items that we wanted were nowhere to be foundJ!!
Then there was captioned TV!! "Lekkerrrrrrr!!" Something that we don't have in South Africa!! I was looking forward to this because at home I did not even bother to watch TV anymore unless it was a very visual programme where I could understand something by merely looking at visual images. At first I could not read fast enough and yes the spelling and typing errors were annoying!! LOL I concentrated so hard on reading the captions that I missed the visual images but I was getting better with it every day!! I also watched some old movies and was amazed that I had some of the stories all wrong !
These first impressions made me realise I
was in for some very nice surprises and that every day would
be filled with more discoveries. It was a going to be a journey
where each day would be filled with contrasts and comparisons
of the familiar visions and emotions that are part of living
in a vastly different country across the ocean. This was a new
world indeed and it was enfolding before my very eyes with each
new dawn an adventure of a lifetime was in store for meA
pilgrimage that would take me into the hearts an homes of strangers
who would become the dearest friends in a mere two months but
THAT I did not know on that first morning when a squirrel came
to greet this strange creature from AfricaJ
Continued next month ...
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