Tuesday, February 9
Today started with Tisetso and I sitting in the bathroom with the shower spewing out hot water. We were trying to get his lungs ready for a good cough and spit session at the doctors. Thankfully, our hard work paid off! We were able to get a good cough and spit and got day one of three out of the way!
As a celebration, we grabbed breakfast at McDonald’s. Once again, Tisetso got the hotcakes. This time, I followed suit and enjoyed tasty pancakes. We were glad to get a good breakfast as it ended up being a super hot day. On the docket: pet some awesome animals.
We headed to the Cheetah Outreach. Brian and I bought tickets to pet cheetah cubs and bought tickets for Tisetso to join us in the meerkat-petting experience. We headed to the cheetah enclosure first. Brian and I headed in while Tisetso, grandma, and grandpa watched through the fence. We got to pet two cheetah cubs, but truth be told, they weren’t tiny. They were both around 9 months old and already quite big. I was still in heaven. After being so many places where I could pet wildlife, but shouldn’t (zoo and bird gardens), it was wonderful! The cheetahs were just sleeping, but we were able to pet them and ask the handlers some questions.
After getting our fill of petting cheetahs (is there such a thing?!), we headed back into the building to take the tour. The tour was just ok. The coolest thing we learned was they’ve started a conservation program using dogs. Apparently, many farmers resort to animal traps or poison to keep their livestock safe from predators (often cheetahs). The dogs the Cheetah Outreach gives farmers will bark and protect the livestock. Cheetahs are classified as "lazy predators" in that they will not pursue difficult food (dogs disqualify the animals by their presence). The farmers sign a contract not to use traps or poison. Apparently the farmers see their loss go from 30%-40% (usually while using traps) down to 3% after using a dog to guard the flocks.
Tisetso was getting antsy during the tour, which was understandable as most of it was in the boiling sun. I flagged down a staff member and let them know we were ready to do the meerkat experience (they had to get a person to the enclosure to let us in). Tisetso, who was super excited to pet a meerkat when we bought a ticket for him, no longer wanted to pet anything. We convinced him to enter the first enclosure area that has two doors leading to the two meerkat cages. He sat with one of the volunteers while Brian and I met, pet, and held "Sebastian" the meerkat. We were told up front that it was too hot to hold Sebastian, so all we’d be able to do was pet him on the ground.
After sitting on a bench to pet him, he hopped up and laid down in my lap and held my arm. It was like he was giving it a hug! I was even more excited than when we had pet the cheetahs. Sebastian was purring and chattering. It was delightful. Tisetso, not one to miss out on fun, tried to pet the other, wild meerkat by sticking his finger into the cage. The volunteer quickly retrieved his finger and told him that one bites. (This kid.)
With photos and petting Sebastian over, we were told it was time to say goodbye. After (jokingly…) threatening to put Sebastian in my purse, we headed back to the car. I’m pretty sure all of us were sweating through our clothes and had gotten our fill of sun exposure. We went to the mall to get another suitcase to send back with Roger and Merry Ann and to do a little shopping.
We stopped by Game (a store that has no rhyme or reason to its layout and feels a bit like Walmart) to pick out a suitcase. We landed on a cheap one that Roger and Merry Ann could donate back in the States or keep in their condo in Florida (where they were flying back). We also went to Woolworth’s (a bit like Nordstrom, but with cheaper prices and a grocery store sort of like Trader Joe’s attached). There we bought another dress shirt for Tisetso, along with more bow and neck ties. We also found some great clothes that will hopefully fit a little while longer (we bought one size up). Unfortunately, during this time we (Tisetso) hit a bit of a rough patch. I’m sure it’s because we hadn’t had lunch yet and we had been in the sun for a while.
With arms full of luggage and goods, we went back to the car. On our way back, the rough patch hit a boiling point. I had asked Tisetso to hold my hand as we were in a parking garage. He typically holds Brian’s hand as is his preference, but Brian was up one level checking the cart we had rented for Tisetso’s “treasure” (bottle caps) that he said he had accidentally left behind. After Tisetso saying he wanted to hold Grandpa’s hand and me kindly insisting he hold mine because I was his mom (hello, attachment), he pulled his hand away and told me I wasn’t his mom. Thankfully, at this moment, the Lord was protecting my heart and it didn’t hurt me. I was able to see he was not dealing well with the circumstances and that we needed to get home. I told him I was sorry he felt that way and I hoped some day he would feel differently.
We got back to the flat and quickly made sandwiches. We then started packing up the suitcase to send with Roger and Merry Ann. We had Tisetso rest during this time as he really did need a break. With bags packed and everyone buckled, we headed to the airport.
It was hard to say goodbye to Roger and Merry Ann. They were here for such a short amount of time! We only got to see them for six days. They flew for a third of that time just to see us! It was a huge blessing to have them there, as they offered a break in company and allowed for Tisetso to meet some of the people in his family picture book.
Before they went, we bribed Tisetso to take a picture with them. It only took R1.50 (about 10¢) to get him to agree. Even though he was bribed, his smile said it all! He really did enjoy getting to know Grandma and Grandpa Malcolm. We were very glad they made the trip to South Africa.
After getting our little guy in bed and to sleep, Brian and I stayed up well past midnight getting some forms filled out for our embassy interview. It was rough staying up so late, but it seems like this may be the end of the line for paperwork in South Africa, so we did it with a happy heart.