Thursday, September 2, 2010

Goodbye to Welkom, and the best birthday ever.

August 22 was a significant day in our trip for several reasons. It was our last day with our friends in Welkom, it was the day we went to Mafikeng, and it was my birthday!

The first order of business of the day was packing – time to gather up the souvenirs and possessions scattered to the far corners of our new home. And figure out how exactly to pack a vuvuzelah. Good thing we planned to leave construction clothes and other items behind for donation where needed in the community! After sorting, stuffing, and figuring out who owned that extra sock, everything was packed in the vans and we were ready for closing. Gathering in the front yard with our local Scout friends and our camper guests, we knew it would be an emotional goodbye. To thank our hosts and as symbols of our friendship, we were ready with contingent and national neckers for our friends. We presented our friends with their neckers, a Scouts Canada flag, and signed pictures of our contingent in front of our home away from home. We were all honoured to be invested as members of the 1st Gilgold troop – and agreed we would be happy to help with any projects around the Scout hall and the community. Responsibility for travel costs to be determined. We were presented with a beautiful carving showing the flags of our two countries on opposite sides of a Scout fleur-de-lis. It was absolutely gorgeous and so touching, there were many wet eyes around the horseshoe. Although everyone had a lot to say, speeches were kept short to avoid breakdowns in the middle of the horseshoe. Hearing such heartfelt thanks reconfirmed why we came here that we had made a difference.
Once the gifts and thank yous had been exchanged, there was just one more surprise before we could close the camp. Singing Happy Birthday to me! It was awesome celebrating my birthday with Scout friends from around the world, and a perfect card and cake were the finishing touches on an awesome birthday surprise.
After all our goodbyes were said we headed to our first destination for our tourist portion of our trip – Mafikeng, the birthplace of Scouting.
It was a long, and often thoughtful drive as we contemplated the things we had seen and done in the last 3 weeks, and we were glad to reach our destination in the evening. After looking around we were all excited to see the museum, game reserve, and other amenities in the morning daylight. Although there were bunks for everyone inside, the open field, night sky, and beautiful were too tempting and almost everyone slept under the stars. The perfect end to a day! (and the best birthday I've ever had.)

Dawn Garden

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