Joe and I just got back from an epic road trip around South Africa: from Joburg, to Durban, to Port Shepstone, to Hogsback, to Port Elizabeth, to Joburg.

On the road at sunrise in Hogsback, deep in the mountains of the Eastern Cape. 

It was a fascinating, fun, and utterly exhausting trip. More than 3100 kilometers, R7500 in car repairs (!), and hundreds of photographs later, we’re back home.

Looks like Colorado, right? Wrong. It’s Kokstad, South Africa, on the border of KwaZulu Natal and Eastern Cape provinces.

Halfway through the trip, we were sitting in a waffle house along the water on KwaZulu Natal’s South Coast, having lunch with Joe’s elderly mother. I suddenly thought about my grandmother.

“You would really like my grandmother,” I said to Joe’s mom. “You have a lot in common. Too bad you two can’t meet.”

Five minutes later, my cell phone rang. I fumbled for it in my handbag and missed the call. The caller left a voice mail so I went outside to listen to it.

It was a tearful message from my sister. My grandmother, who we call Cooncie, had passed away in her sleep during the night.

At moments like these, being an expat is very surreal. I suddenly realized that life back home doesn’t get paused when I go away. I mean, I knew that Cooncie was old and could die at any time. But how could it happen when I’m not there?

I’ll have lots more to say about Cooncie, and the rest of my crazy family, in a future post. I’m really looking forward to seeing my family and friends and celebrating my grandmother’s life. I also have some more blogging to do about our recent trip.

But for now, I need to finish packing and get ready to catch a plane. Tomorrow I’ll be on the road again, or above the road, I guess.

Sunset from the road in Free State Province.

Catch you on the flip side.

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