I barely slept the night before we left. Excitement had reached fever pitch and I couldn’t wait to embark on this adventure. This is what I had been craving for months…my restless spirit finally being appeased. Staring up at the ceiling in the dark, Jaco was fast asleep next to me, his steady breathing and presence a great comfort to me. I started casting my mind back to very early on in our marriage, when he was part of a mobile radar unit while we were still living in South Africa. As a result, he was away for sometimes months at a time, leaving me at home alone. Eventually he was leaving me with a tiny baby, and then suddenly there were five of us. The times when he went away leaving me with three small children to take care of was never easy. In South Africa we lived in a big house on half an acre which was a corner plot, and part of the reason for us uprooting ourselves and leaving our beautiful country was a very sad one actually. On one occasion when luckily Jaco was at home, we were all asleep one night when our house was broken into. We didn’t hear a thing…absolutely nothing. At 3:00am we woke up to the twins crying, and while I started changing their diapers Jaco went to the kitchen to warm up some milk to feed them. That was when he heard a sound in the sitting room, only to discover that the burglar bars covering one of the windows had been severed at the bottom and bent right up, giving the burglars access to the house. They had stolen a whole lot of electronic equipment plus my handbag. A woman’s handbag is a very personal thing. Some people believe that the ultimate insult and gesture of disrespect is when someone throws your handbag around or at you. Now mine had been stolen and my whole life was basically in it. I felt so violated. Jaco had obviously interrupted them, but given half a chance they probably would’ve stolen a whole lot more. We had previously had two cars stolen from us too, and now this had to go and happen. I shudder to think what would have happened if these robbers had possessed other intentions. They could have crept up on us in the dark and slit our throats without any warning. My tiny children were sitting ducks. Although at that stage we didn’t have an alarm system installed we weren’t exactly exposed either, with a six foot wall around our property that had barbed wire on top of it, plus an electric gate. Like they say however if burglars really want to get in, they’ll find a way. That was one of the last straws and after that incident, we weren’t sure whether we wanted to raise our children in such an environment. It was not long after that when Jaco got the job offer in Abu Dhabi, and so we saw that as a sign and took the leap of faith. Now, lying in that hotel bed all those years later with so much water that had gone under the bridge, I was waiting to go on the trip of a lifetime…one that would change me in ways I could never have imagined. Our lives were so different now. When morning finally arrived, I had butterflies in my stomach as I took a shower and prepared my bags to go downstairs to meet the rest of my teammates in the lobby. Arriving downstairs, everybody was in very high spirits and very excited. It was time for more photo’s and then all that remained was to say goodbye to our loved ones. After hugging Jaco, he took me by my shoulders and said to me, ‘Remember, don’t drown.’
When the bus started moving off on it’s way to take us to the airport, I winked at him and blew him a kiss hoping that I’d reassure him to a certain extent. We were finally off on what was going to be a very long journey indeed.