We made it to South Africa! Although it entailed 33 hours of travel and the jet lag hit us like a brick, the trip itself was quite uneventful and went smoothly. We arrived in SA at about 7:30 am local time (12:30 am back-home time!) and had enough time to get our rental car, exchange US dollars for Rand, buy a local phone to keep in contact with our adoption team, and then find our place to stay. We took showers (amazing after all that travel!) and then passed out for about an hour before having to make our way to the TLC Children’s Home.
We initially met with our Wandisa adoption agency social worker, TLC social worker and the care home manager. After touring the facility, they brought out our daughter to us. It was surreal, and she is amazing! We got some great pictures, but unfortunately we can’t share any until things are “final” next week at court. We were not expecting much in terms of her willingness to attach to us right away. But within 5 minutes of meeting with her, she walked into my arms and let me hold her! And then within 10 minutes she was in Grant’s arms playing with his beard. What an answer to prayer!
We were able to stay with her for a couple of hours before it was time for her to eat supper and time for us to get back to our B&B before dark. Because we can’t share pictures yet, I thought instead I’d let you know what we’ve observed about South Africa since we’ve been here for 1 day!
- The people are very friendly and like to laugh!
- This may be just in Johannesburg, but people drive fast and crazy! We feel like beginners trying to drive as South Africans drive on the “wrong” side of the road and “wrong” side of the car.
- Paying for something simple like a cheeseburger makes us feel like we’re going broke, even though things are really cheaper here. The SA currency is called Rand and a cheeseburger is about 60R (about $3), and our smart phone we bought cost us 1250R (about $120). Those Rand numbers get high and it’s scary until you figure the exchange!
- There are a lot of dogs around here! Our B&B owners have 3, and TLC has about 15! Dogs bark all night here. Hopefully we will get used to that!
- The poverty is real. We are staying in a really nice home that is gated for security. But on the edge of the city on our way to TLC there are clear signs of great poverty. I’m hoping to share some pictures soon.
- I love the accents here, and I really want to come home with one.
- It’s winter here, and it was about 50-60 degrees. They don’t get snow and there are palm trees visible out our balcony. I’ll take it compared to a Minnesota winter!
I’m sure we will learn so much more as we stay here, but those are just some observations from our first day!
We get to go back to TLC and spend increasing amounts of time with our girl, and then hopefully take her in full care in the next few days. I will try to write often and keep you all updated. And soon I will share pictures!!