Where I left you yesterday, if you’ve forgiven the cliffhanger and returned, HH2B was throwing curve balls into the hopes of my heart, but a tiny little sand-like rock gave me incredible peace, and I just knew — God was in control. I was in His hands.

Our last day in the bushveld at Makhasa Game Reserve began similarly to the days before. We got up a little earlier than usual, (it might’ve been around 5 am I think) grabbed a snack and a cuppa, and were off in the Land Rover in search of whatever game or object of interest might warrant a photo, a story, a moment’s pause to enjoy.

I was sleepy.

We started off on the adventure, and the guide realised he’d forgotten his rifle back at the camp, not so good when rhinos and buffalo are roaming about, so we began a circuitous route to head back. Mind you, I am directionally challenged, and I was sleepy. But suddenly Ferdie (the guide) spotted some tracks and, the same as most other days, was out of the Land Rover in a flash, staring at the bush that lay before him with great interest. I wasn’t really sure what he was staring at and would normally have asked for help to decipher it, but, as I said, I was sleepy.

Then a familiar interaction took place. Ferdie pointed at HH2B and me, and signalled for us to quietly follow him to see whatever he was tracking. It was often the case that just a couple of folks could go and see something on foot at the time, and I was just happy we were getting to go first. Should I have been slightly nervous he didn’t have a rifle? I don’t know. I was sleepy. But since I didn’t lose my life in the rhino incident, I trusted this would be okay, too.

I tiptoed along behind our guide, and scurried in front of HH because I didn’t think I, being the lady amongst the three of us, belonged in the rear of the pack.

We came around a corner, and Ferdie attempted to point my eyes in the direction of the game he had it in mind for us to see, but something else caught my eye.

A picnic breakfast with roses and champagne had been carefully arranged under some Marula trees, and I suddenly realised there was not a wild beast to be seen because this was what the forgotten rifle, the circuitous route and the two of us on foot was all leading toward.

We were left with a radio and, seated on the picnic blanket, my future Hero Hubs, on one knee, began to share with me what I’m sure were some of the most beautiful things he’d ever said to me. I was so overwhelmed by the beauty of the moment I am afraid I scarcely heard a word. And his beautiful words were leading toward one significant question, with which he asked if I would be his wife.

And perhaps for one of the first, and only times I recall in my life, I was absolutely speechless.

I could only joyfully shake my head in response, and so I did, and through tears of joy, made it clear that I indeed would become his wife.

We soaked in the moment together, better captured in our hearts than in an attempt at photographs, and we enjoyed a bit of the champagne and stared at each other and laughed, and I’m quite sure I cried some more, and we marvelled at how tricksy HH had been that I had absolutely no expectation that this certain moment was about to occur.

And I’ve forgotten to mention that he produced a beautiful diamond ring which belonged to his grandmother which he hoped I would love and choose a new setting for. (I did choose a new setting and I do love it!)

The speechlessness quickly passed, and as I sometimes do when I’m nervous, I eventually began to chitter chatter and talked about the story of the dung beetle, which the guide discussed in great detail on an outing that HH2B wasn’t a part of the day before. We laughed and smiled some more, and kind of wished the moment never had to end, but thought about the rest of the folks back at the camp, perhaps waiting for us before actually starting out on the game drive. (Ferdie and his wife, Prudence, had arranged for us to take a special drive on a neighbouring reserve that day where we might see elephants or lions and other game that wasn’t on the Makhasa Reserve.)

The guide returned to pick us up, and we were off for our first game drive as a soon to be Mr. and Mrs. Collie.

And we did spot some lions. Kind of, barely.

But also some buffalo…

And look, that’s the diamond!

And that, dear friends, was the beginning of the plans for a wedding that was privileged to enjoy guests from England, Scotland, Germany and different parts of the good old USA, but some of the most beloved in attendance came all the way from the magical spot where it all began, our beloved South Africa.

Five and a half long months later, I was Mrs. Hero Hubs.

Six and a half months later, we discovered we were expecting a little one, our beloved Bear.

And though our mailing address has in the last three and a half years changed five times and spanned three continents, I am ever so glad that my first proper slice of South Africa led to the pie of an adventure that has befallen this little ol’ gal from Eastern North Carolina.

You’d think the South wasn’t southern enough, wouldn’t ya?