Your first of many, many trips to South Africa has come to an end. It's safe to say you've had the best two weeks of your life. You swam, you frolicked with cousins, you fed the chickens, you threw water polo balls in the pool, you fed chickens again, and again, and again. You swam some more. You met: monkeys, tortoises, macaws, starfish, pelicans and lemurs. You found out that your two very favorite bedtime companions in real life - owl and penguin - exist in real life. You learned how to roar like a lion and call like a seagull.
You overcame a serious fear of sand and determined that pouring it on our feet and smashing castles made out of it are your new favorite pastimes. You marched into the Indian Ocean. You decided that you take your milk with a biscuit, and you dunked it like a proper lady. You ate shrimp and crayfish and boerewors. And ice cream. And watermelon. So. Much. Watermelon.
You met and fell in love with: two greatgrannies, two first cousins, one uncle and aunt, eleven second cousins, too many great aunties and uncles to count. You met the babies of daddy's oldest and closest friend.
You loved, loved, loved every second with your Granny. In the yard, at the beach, in the chicken coop. You lit up when you saw her each morning. You snuggled up to her and fell asleep on our last full day together.
Your vocabulary exploded. Just a small sampling: outside, night night, bye bye, open, purple, chickens (there's a theme). And "no no no," while wagging your finger. You showed everyone that you are fiercely independent, always paying attention,and happiest amongst dozens of new people whom you can entertain, befriend, and generally dazzle.
You were baptized. You celebrated daddy's 35th birthday with fifty of his closest family and friends. You slid on a slip and slide. You bounced on a big kids trampoline. You splashed in rain puddles. You rode a tricycle.
The very best South African habit that you picked up: kissing on the lips. You now lean in spontaneously to do so at the most unexpected and appreciated moments.
You left America still part baby and came back a little girl.