In 2014 my nephew Vinny very generously offered me a trip to go see him and his family in Australia. I flew there via Dubai and enjoyed a free meal while waiting for the final plane.
On arrival, while waiting to go through border control, a big black sniffer dog decided to sniff me out of the line. I started talking to the dog while wondering what he was smelling. The man handling him was watching my reaction and asked, “Do you have dogs?” To which I replied, “yes, three.” I was told he was smelling my dogs from home, and I could continue through customs.
It took me forever to get my luggage, and in the meantime, my family started worrying that perhaps I got lost in Dubai or missed the flight. Finally, I found my luggage and got to them. We went home to Ryde, in Sydney, where I took a nice bath and slept for what felt like an eternity. After which I unpacked the gifts and we caught up.
They were the most gracious hosts; I felt so much at home, I could do anything. What impressed me was how similar the landscape is to South Africa, and yet how different the lifestyle is. My family there is by no means rich however, with their tax return, they were able to pay for my ticket and passport, spoil me while I was there, and write a letter that they would be able to support me for the three weeks that I was to be there. The letter was needed because we were so broke at the time; I went over without a penny and did not pay for anything.
It was also lovely to see Rainbow Lorikeets (Parrots) flying free and coming to feed in their backyard. Near the house there was a park or recreational grounds with trees and beautiful birds and little animals. I was also impressed by how safe the parks are for children and at most parks there were gas barbeques and designated picnic areas. I also noticed they are strict about security and safety, as a young child accidently dropped a glass bottle at the pool in Ryde, and immediately the lifeguards were around the glass making sure no one stepped on it. They even questioned her as glass was not allowed.
During my stay, my little grandniece turned two and we had a lovely party at the house with my nephew’s in laws. A cousin also celebrated his birthday at a park in Neutral Bay, which was a lovely get together. In three weeks, I did not see any homeless people, not because they don’t exist, but because being a first world country, they are taken care off. Although, my nephew did not attend Mass, he graciously chauffeured me to church every Sunday. As I love water, we caught the ferry from circular quay in darling harbour to Manly which was very relaxing. We walked across the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, went to the Opera House, ate out before I left, and bought gifts for everyone at Chinatown. As a parting gift my nephew took me to a clothing store to choose something. I was hesitant as they had already done so much, but my nephew insisted, so I choose a light grey jacket which I still have.
I enjoyed every minute of my stay there. As a mom, I phoned home every day, even though my daughter was 18 and I knew she was able to take care of herself. I will be forever grateful. I am blessed to have such a loving nephew who has such a graceful and loving partner. I’ll be forever grateful.