Around 10pm in Abu Dhabi airport it finally hit me, a bit late, but then again, I blame my sluggish Finnish genes.
I was going back to Africa. And yes, I told everyone about this months ago, and yes, I even booked the tickets back in June. I just never really expected to actually come back. I blame Michaela (are you reading this??) and her conventional idea of getting married, out of all things.
I'd planned it well. It was pointless to come for a wedding only, so I might as well come for a few months. I might as well visit Lesotho and Mozambique, the two Southern African countries I'd missed out on before. I might as well recruit a driver again and rent a car. Might as well see some of the most isolated parts of South Africa and some of my favourites again.
Careers are over-rated anyway. Right? (except if you are my new potential employer googling me, in which case I'm totally into my career and working.)
I'd left Jo'burg three years earlier, on my way to Sydney, and back then, the airport and the whole city had felt impossibly African. This time, I felt like I'd suddenly landed back into London. I was picked up by a slightly confused-looking Rich, and we immediately set off towards the Drakensberg mountains in a rental car he'd had the foresight to arrange beforehand.
We stayed at the upper part of the Drakensberg, close to Lesotho, driving around the surrounding areas, until we realised that something was very wrong with Abigail, our rental car. She had to be, sadly enough, swapped for another car, which required a trip to Estcourt on a rainy afternoon. We consoled ourselves with a bit of red wine and a pool tournament at the hostel, and as the weather didn't seem to clear up and we couldn't actually see the mountains, we made a snap decision to head inland instead of the coast. And that's how we came to be in Kimberley.
Kimberley has a big hole. It's right in the town centre, and like all good businesses, it has made a whole market around what is essentially only a big (admittedly hand-dug) hole in the ground. There's a whole little town around it, partly historic, partly fake, with the Hole Cafe and the Hole Gift shop and suchlike. A bit nerdy, but you can't argue with the driver too much about the things he wants to see. Otherwise he'll leave you in the desert.
We camped, for the first time, with my friend Sue's impossible pop-up tent (are you reading this as well??) freezing. I pulled on my leggings, thinking I'd left a perfectly sunny England for a positively cold and rainy South Africa. This wedding better be bloody awesome.
And the hardest task still remains.
I have to get Rich to wear a shirt.
Hence the pained expression on the poor man's face.