I have seen my South African family once since 2011, in July 2018. I don’t have parents but I have a wonderful family – my uncle, aunt, and cousins – who took me in and loved me like one of their own when my parents died when I was a teenager. My beloved aunt (aka Mom2) is now 87.
When I lived in South Africa, I would visit my uncle and aunt at lunchtime every single day, as they lived close to my work. I miss them so terribly.
Below are photos of the day I met my family again in 2018, after 7 years.
And here is my best friend of 30 years, a few days later
And my cousin Christine, in 2018 and 1965
My husband and I visited South Africa in July 2018, and our next trip was planned for December 2019, so we could have a summer Christmas. My husband’s grandson was born at the end of November 2019 and was seriously ill for his first months, so we cancelled our trip and rebooked it for June 2020. Well, thanks to Covid we cancelled that and rebooked December 2020. Then cancelled and rebooked July 2021, which also had to be cancelled.
Three weeks ago the covid situation in both Europe and South Africa was looking good, so we bit the bullet and booked our flights. We were visiting from January 6th to 27th, 2021, flying Lufthansa. We decided to wait a week or so before firming up other plans, not wanting to jinx things.
After waiting a week, we felt confident enough to make more arrangements, so last week we booked a rental car, hotels, and visits with family. I also made dentist appointments with the family dentist, hair appointments and a doctor’s appointment. I started lists of things to do before, during and after our trip. We organised cat-sitters. I started a little planner section for itineraries, lists, gifts for family. I printed out all our bookings. I started a countdown… Finally I will be able to eat my favourite foods, hear accents that sound like mine, use South African slang, and speak Afrikaans again.
Enter Omicron at stage left. 48 hours later Lufthansa banned all flights to and from South Africa. The world is slamming its doors closed, one country at a time.
At this point, I doubt things will change in little over a month. I am sad, and disappointed. Yesterday I even had a little cry, even though I know so many people have lost loved ones to this disease, and this is just a trip. I know we cannot do anything about it. Because I am not a South African citizen anymore, if anything happens to my mother figure, I will not even be allowed in on compassionate grounds. Will I ever see her again? When my uncle – her husband – passed away in 2005, I was unable to get there in time, and they had to delay the funeral to give me time to fly to South Africa – it’s often a 30-hourtrip door to door.
We will probably try to rebook for July, but at this point it seems like covid hell will never ever be over.
I did read this though, which I found quite interesting.