“Not all those who wander are lost.” This J.R.R. Tolkein quote has appeared around me quite a bit lately. And it’s one I’ve thought of regularly for the last nine months or so. I spent most of that time feeling lost, at least a little out of place everywhere I went. When I left the Philippines at the start of March I was happy, relaxed, in a healthy state of mind. By the time I attended World Domination Summit in July, I was uncertain about my choices, fully aware of how far I’d strayed from the person I wanted to be. When I realized in Utila that I wasn’t ready to become a dive instructor and turned my attention back to travel, I immediately felt lighter. Traveling, I would no longer feel so lost. The journey would be my purpose. Or so I thought.

wild-coast-south-africa
Along South Africa’s Wild Coast between Coffee Bay and Lubanzi

Mozambique, my first stop in Africa, was hard. By the time I left I was ready to give up on travel completely, convinced I was no longer cut out for this life. But the welcoming people of peaceful Malawi restored my spirit. I reflected on what had been so challenging in Mozambique and evaluated what I could have done differently. Some things were out of my control but I also made a few rookie mistakes that I hadn’t made in ages. In Malawi, I fared much better. By the time I boarded a plane to South Africa, I was back to where I’d been in Utila: still lost but trusting that a path would reveal itself. Now, after seven weeks in South Africa, I feel once more that although I’m wandering, I’m not the least bit lost.

Atop Sani Pass in Lesotho
Atop Sani Pass in Lesotho

I have so many stories to share from my time here that I don’t know where to begin. People who wear blankets and make beer from corn? Getting bumped by sharks while my divemaster was bitten by one (don’t worry, she’s fine)? Watching a lion chase warthogs? The beauty of the Drakensberg or the Wild Coast? Taking a bath on the edge of a cliff? The magic of Mdumbi or the bliss of Chintsa? I’m having an amazing time here and I still have almost six weeks to spend in the rainbow nation. I’ll do my best to write about all of that and more but it will take a while. Writing posts for this blog, fact-checking myself, selecting and editing photos all take time, quite a lot of it. And as I lose money on this site, it’s truly a labor of love. It’s the writing I most enjoy so I’ve been doing a ton of it, just not here. Some of it may, someday, appear in another forum. Most of it is just for me, to help me remember, to work through what’s happening in my life, to help me find my way again. More time consuming than that is what I’m doing all day: living life to the absolute fullest.

oceanic-blacktip-sharks-aliwal-shoal
Oceanic Blacktip Sharks at Aliwal Shoal

Exploring new places, meeting new people (and oh, how many wonderful people I’ve met here!), learning about other cultures (there are many in a country that has 11 national languages), trusting my instincts, and embracing opportunities that come my way has brought me back to the state of health I last inhabited in the Philippines. These days I’m bubbling over with gratitude, love, and joy. So I hope you’ll forgive me for not updating this site more often and that I haven’t lost too many of you during my months of radio silence. More importantly, I hope that you, dear reader, are finding happiness and health in your own life.

Happy New Year everyone!

16 thoughts on “Update from South Africa

  • January 3, 2016 at 7:15 am
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    Once more, many thanks for your interesting report and the lovely pics.
    Reto

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    • January 4, 2016 at 11:01 am
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      Thank you for continuing to read, Reto!

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  • January 3, 2016 at 8:00 am
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    Happy New Year!!! May you find much peace in the coming months and fewer close encounters with sharks.

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    • January 4, 2016 at 11:02 am
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      Thank you, Chris! Personally, I’m hoping for far more close encounters with sharks this year but I hope you don’t have any!

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  • January 3, 2016 at 8:02 am
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    Sounds like a very happy Marbree, and that’s always good thing in my experience! Keep on keeping on x

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    • January 4, 2016 at 11:03 am
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      That I am, Paul, that I am. Happy New Year!

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  • January 3, 2016 at 8:15 am
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    Happy New Year, Marbree! Still enjoying your updates and photos (especially the underwater ones). All the best in 2016!

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    • January 4, 2016 at 11:04 am
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      And to you, Sheena! I hope you’re loving Thailand. 🙂

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    • January 4, 2016 at 11:05 am
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      Thanks, Megan!

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  • January 4, 2016 at 9:15 am
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    Marbree – I am so glad to hear that you are finding the real you more and more. Keep finding that joy and share it with everyone you encounter. Thank you for taking the time out of your journey to share your joy here online. If you could see my smile from the journey you’ve posted- that would say it all. Joy and Love Marbree!!

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    • January 4, 2016 at 11:05 am
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      Abby – thank you so much for this comment. I hope you’re doing well and that 2016 is off to a great start!

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  • January 11, 2016 at 10:13 pm
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    Marbree, Happy New Year! Your photos are amazing! As for the quote, it’s become somwhat of a permanent fixture for me, I got it tattooed on my back after my sailing trip haha. Africa is high on my list so I enjoy reading your posts I wish you best for your travels this year!

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    • January 12, 2016 at 1:33 am
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      Great choice for a tattoo, Zach. I hope you’re doing well wherever you are and that you make it to Africa one of these days – it’s an amazing place!!!

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  • February 12, 2016 at 4:11 pm
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    Hey, Bree,
    Loved the Tolkien quote (and your interpretation of E.B.B.). I have applied the quote to my son’s life journey MANY times…as a mom, I find it very comforting, whereas a younger person might find it inspirational. Gorgeous pictures–can’t emphasize that enough–absolutely beautiful. I hope you continue to do well, to experience life (“to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield” since we’re channeling British writers) :-).

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    • February 13, 2016 at 6:18 am
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      Thank you, Sandy. For me, the Tolkien quote is more comforting than inspirational as I truly feel a wanderer but far from lost. So glad you enjoy the photos – it’s the places that are beautiful!

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