It’s that fresh-start feeling, the first day of the new year. I don’t know why the turn of the calendar should create the feeling of renewal and hope the way it does, but I’ll take it.
It’s New Year’s morning. We’re waking up a bit late, having stayed at the waterfront to ring in the new year among strangers from all over the world. It was the most moving New Year’s Eve I’ve ever had.
I’m so grateful.
Spending this time in a country that produced such world leaders, who taught such lessons of wisdom and strength, such focus on what is right and just, such prices to pay, such magnificent landscapes, and such welcoming and beautiful citizens, my cup is full and overflowing. I want to absorb it all and carry it in every sunburned pore.
After a week of family companionship and mountain hikes, wildflower-filled summits and rock sculptures, we visited Robben Island yesterday where Mandela and many other political prisoners spent a large portion of their lives. We returned to the Cape Town waterfront on the boat as the sun was setting and the crescent moon appeared. It was the Atlantic Ocean we were on, I had to orient myself to figure that out. Indian or Atlantic? Exotic where they meet. The silhouette of Table Mountain was in front of us and the lights of the city were sparkling like a tree skirt of fallen stars. I keep wondering how I got so lucky.
We joined thousands of people milling around the waterfront, watching performers of every sort in every corner of the rebuilt port. Lights, music, food and drink. Families, lovers, grandparents, friends, all enjoying, laughing, picture-taking, dancing, eating, and waiting. We could not believe how orderly it all was. The signs that said “No umbrellas. No weapons. No alcohol.” Were clearly adhered to and the crowd was polite and cheerful. We ate, we danced in the street, we high-fived strangers. There were people of every color, shape and size. People danced with kids on their shoulders, children danced with costumed characters, drummers weaved through the crowd playing and dancing and we followed as the pied piper. The music stopped five minutes before midnight and we all turned toward the water. Someone started a countdown. At midnight we kissed and the fireworks began. It was magical.
Afterward, as the enormous crowd moved as one toward the one strategic footbridge, I had a momentary thought we could all be crushed. But we worked and moved together as one. The only words I heard were “Happy New Year” again and again. We held hands. We didn’t lose each other. We found our way out in good time. We did that in the midst of diversity and fellowship with high hopes for all that is good in this world.
Bless you all. Everyone.
We head to Karoo National Park today and home to Blantyre on Wednesday. I’ll write so much more next week.