For the month of June I was watching the ocean’s weather charts like a madman. Just as it started to calm down, another storm would run down the cold Benguela Current and hit the west coast with a force. It was wise to stay home that month, and looking back, it’s evident how God really does control the universe. (As God said to Job, “Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain and a path for the thunderstorm?”) I often look back and say, “Only God!”
I previously mentioned that on the 6th of June I was called off work for bad weather and poor mining conditions. But at the end of the month, I had to go, along with the rest of my dive team, pump fresh diamondiferous gravel that surfaced because of the storms.
Julie said our goodbye was “generic,” and I can’t think of a better way to describe it. There was no lingering, no tears, no questions about when we’d see each other again, a hug so quick it was awkward and a “Bye, see you soon.”
We went our separate ways, knowing God was up to something. The drive to work took several hours, and my boss had a knack for driving in a fair amount of silence. (As if being underwater for nine hours a day with zero opportunity for verbal communication wasn’t enough.) This time, though, the quiet gave me a chance to think.
I was at Raymond and Lindsey’s house when Raymond offered to take Julie’s entire squad to the Kruger National Park. I added that I’d join in on the adventure (in the event I wasn’t called into work) so we could take a two-vehicle convoy into the park. Raymond planned on flying from Cape Town to Johannesburg on Saturday morning then driving the four hours to Nelspruit.
On Wednesday, just before we finished the day in Lavender Hill, I received a phone call from Raymond. He’d booked two vehicles for the Kruger trip and asked if I was going to fly up with him. “Unfortunately, I’m leaving this evening for work,” I explained. “But I hope to still make it to Nelspruit somehow.” Luckily, both Raymond and I embrace spontaneity and last-minute decision making.
I got to the mine late Wednesday then spent several hours underwater on Thursday and Friday. After two days of work, I received word that we may return home on Saturday. I couldn’t believe my ears! Still, I woke up on Saturday morning and treated it like any other workday. The sun wouldn’t rise for another hour, but my dive partner Ruan and I were up drinking coffee and eating breakfast.
Suddenly, we heard a loud, booming knock at the door. It was Richard, our lead diver. He came to tell us that we needed to gather our gear and suit up for the day. “We’re leaving in 20 minute,” he said. My heart sank as reality set in. My hope of going to Nelspruit was shattered.
Something didn’t make sense, though. The tide was too high to dive this early in the morning. Within minutes, Richard was back. “Ha! Just kidding! We’re heading home.” All we needed to do was sort our gravel for diamonds. I’d be back in Cape Town later that afternoon, but the pressure was on. I needed to get to Nelspruit, and time wasn’t on my side.
My mom and sister checked transportation options for me. There weren’t any Saturday flights available, so my only option was to embark on the 20-hour bus journey to Johannesburg---World Race style. I got home at 4 pm and rushed to the city centre. My bus was boarding at 4:30. (As the wise Gail Winton once told Julie and me, “We serve an on-time God!”)
Twenty hours and a sore back later, I was in Jo-burg. I texted Julie and asked where they were. They already made their connection and were on a bus bound for Nelspruit. I’d missed them.
My bus driver suggested I take a taxi to Nelspruit instead of another bus. “For two reasons,” he said. “Time and money.” But he failed to mention that I’d have to walk downtown to catch a taxi… to the most dangerous taxi rink my country has to offer. Thankfully, I met a petty thief on my way to the station who told me he’d ensure my safety for R10 ($1). I accepted his offer with pleasure, knowing men kill for cell phones in this city.
My taxi ride was a real experience. Seventeen people and a rooster traveled in that 14-seater van---TIA (This is Africa). I made friends with people from all over Africa that day and was most relieved when Raymond picked me up at a Tiger Wheel and Tyre Shop. My taxi beat the team’s bus to Nelspruit, so Raymond and I went for a bite to eat. The week to follow would be a significant one.
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