Friday, May 24, 2013

Latest news - South Africa, packing, and goodbyes

Well, months have passed now since my last posting. Since I wrote last in February, we have had cycling races, in which all four of us raced - even me on my new Felt bike - and a kids' triathlon; we have had music recitals, performances, a Sunset Concert in which David performed and another one in which Hayden performed, and Jennifer's workshop in Berlin.

We traveled to South Africa for spring break, driving the Garden Route from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town. In Port Elizabeth we saw the location and routes for David's South Africa Ironman race in 2011 and went to a vast elephant park, Addo Elephant Park, where we saw elephants, kudu, tortoises, zebras, warthog ... Breathtakingly, the rain stopped as we drove around searching for the many animals living in the park.

 In Kynsna we mountain biked, kayaked in a downpour, and visited the Township with a woman who lives there and runs a foster care program for children.

In Cape Town, we drove around the peninsula to the Cape of Good Hope. The location of the blending of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans was both spiritual and humbling. It was awesome, in the true sense of the word, to stand at that geographical southern point of the entire continent. Later that evening, we ate dinner at a restaurant near the Water Front - Quay 4 - where Hayden sampled ostrich, kudu, and warthog. We wondered if he ate the kudu we had just visited earlier that day on the peninsula. Logan tried oxtail soup, with an actual ox's tail. If nothing else, the boys have learned to be daring eaters who are willing to try new foods - and who even expect to do so. As Hayden said, "I will probably never get to eat this anywhere else." (The ostrich was the favorite for each of us, I think.)

Since South Africa we have been gearing up for our big move. We have accepted jobs in Stuttgart, Germany, where we will be heading in August. We will be heading to the United States for the summer to see family and friends, to clear out our own house and send what we need to Germany (and to sell or give away things we kept for four years and don't even miss), and to do some hiking and backpacking, weather permitting. The boys will do an ultimate frisbee camp in Seattle, and Hayden will attend Interlochen Arts Camp for creating writing and guitar for the third summer.

We have pared down our belongings in Saudi Arabia, had a couple of garage sales, closed our bank account, turned in our health cards and ID cards, sold our motorbike ... So many things to do to pack up and move to a new continent. We will actually need winter clothes now, and we will be able to eat pork whenever desired or buy a nice bottle of wine for dinner. At times the steps needed to move on seem like hurdles that cannot be hurdled, but then another step gets done, and it seems that the light at the end of the tunnel is, in fact, growing closer.

We are grateful to be leaving at a point where we have been here long enough to have much to miss. We each recognize the professional and engaging colleagues we have enjoyed working with for four years; we work at KAUST with probably the tallest, the most athletically talented, and the most humorous group of teachers at any international school. I doubt if another international school offers as many tall teachers we have. We have musicians with their own bands and athletes who compete in competitive races of several types. We have laughed so much with many of our colleagues, particularly but not limited to those with whom we lived in the Marriott Jeddah for nine weeks and started The KAUST School. Recently at a faculty meeting, where more than half of the teachers are departing, we reminisced about the early days with rats in our houses and in the school, the ubiquitous fire alarms, the floods, the backing up sewage, and getting driver's licenses (for males only, of course). We all recognized how much we have accomplished and how meaningful and valuable our relationships have been and will continue to be.

With three weeks to go, we have much to accomplish, but we mostly want to have time with our friends and to make plans for meeting up again ... somewhere. What a ride it has been ...

Thanks for reading.


  1. Dear Jennifer, David, Hayden and Logan, Well, you are in the final countdown. Jennifer, this blog was a lovely summation of a four year stage for your family. Again, may I say that your trio of boys are so very lucky to have you orchestrating this difficult departure. We'll be at the airport on July 10th and can't wait. Daddo/G

  2. Nice pictures of the journey. I also love to visit the beautiful places of the world and capture that moments. I love the South Africa in this connection.
    South Africa News Online