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Saturday, October 10, 2020

Oxygen for my soul

I remember when our Project Canaan doctor told me in the early days of the pandemic that mental health issues will have much more wide spread implications that people dying from Covid-19.  I heard him, and Ian and I started being intentional about our mental and physical health. We had already been walking around the farm during the week, clocking 25-40 miles per week going up and down our mountainous home.  I had to eliminate the biggest climbs when we discovered a compressed disk that has been causing me terrible nerve pain down my legs, but the walks around the lower part of the farm and through the fields, with our new puppies, has been therapeutic.


We have always loved to cook together, and so with our borders being closed for the past seven months we have been limited in the ingredients available to keep our pantry full. Fortunately, we have fields full of fresh vegetables, which has been fun work on new recipes to enjoy. 


The one thing that we have not been able to do, that we have ALWAYS done to help with our mental health, is to go away for a weekend, or take a few days in South Africa (SA) when we really need a break.  SA is a beautiful country where the restaurants are wonderful, fresh fish is available and the stores have everything you need (something that is a never-ending battle in Eswatini). We can weeks without the simplest thing like sour cream being in Eswatini. And if you want to buy 20 of anything (bibs, size 2 shorts, almond milk), it can take a full day of hunting from store to store in town to town. Not in SA, in SA you can do one stop shopping, just like in the US or Canada.


Last week the borders opened to other African countries, and we waiting to see if people really were getting across (yes, we have fake news here too). We were told that you have to have a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of travel, and then you could leave.  But no one was clear on how you could get back in to Eswatini, so after a few days of newspapers reporting disastrous confusion at the borders, things seemed to calm down. We could get a Covid-19 test for $52, which would have to be sent to Nelspruit, SA, and then if you got the test before 9:30AM, you would be able to go back to the laboratory to get your printed results 24 hours later.  On Thursday/Friday, Ian and I did just that, and we escaped from our isolation, and into the wild.


We crossed the two international borders easily, put on a podcast and just enjoyed the 3-hour drive to Nelspruit, where we will spend the weekend.  Of course, a trip to SA wouldn’t be complete without a shopping comprehensive list from my Sr. Supervisors for things that we just can’t find in Eswatini, and things we have needed for many months (large good quality cooking pots, memory boxes, bibs, medicine etc.).


Of course, we didn’t know what to expect from our Covid-19 infected neighbors, but we drove with masks ready, hand sanitizer available and a funky hotel as our final destination.  Our first stop?  McDonalds. I’m not proud of it, but it was definitely the best Quarter Pounder with cheese that we have ever eaten. Next stop was a store called WestPack, where you can buy almost anything and everything you need. Ian’s truck quickly filled up within the first hour of our shopping. Then we went to Woolworths (our favorite gourmet-type grocery store), and bought some treats for the evening (they even had fresh baklava!), then headed to our hotel. Attached to the hotel is a beautiful restaurant, with fancy food, just like the old days.  We indulged in muscles, smoked salmon and fresh mahi-mahi, all at an outdoor table away from everyone else.  Covid-19 precautions in place, we had the best dinner and it was the first time that we had been able to leave the country OR eat have dinner at a restaurant in seven months.


It was like oxygen to our souls. The ability to move freely, the ability to stop and enjoy a good meal, and being freed from the spirit of oppression has been life giving to us today. We are sitting at Mugg & Bean having a delicious skinny cappuccino with poached eggs with fresh avocado, while enjoying the warm spring weather. Later today (after our shopping is complete), we will drive around the Panorama Route of Mpumalanga and enjoy views that are among the most spectacular in the world.


Today I am really thankful for freedom.


It looks like it will be many more months before we will be able to welcome visitors to Project Canaan from North America, but what we ARE able to do is invite you on a virtual tour of Project Canaan, hosted by Ian, me, and Supervisors from around the property.  This will all take place on Thursday, October 22nd at our annual Celebrate HOPE event in Georgia. There is limited seating with only 75 seats available for the live event, BUT this year, our friends from all over the world, can buy a ticket to join us for the live event!  Ian and I will be joining and we have really incredible auction items that can be bid on before and during the event. You can even bid on bringing your family to join Ian and I for a fireside chat at our fire pit on the mountain when the borders open again, or a steak dinner for 4 people at our table, with Ian’s famous filet mignon cooked on the Green Egg.


We need your help now, more than ever. Please buy your tickets today at the link below:


We hope to see you on October 22nd!

Live from South Africa… exhaling.



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