Teaching and Travelling in South Africa Part #1

One of my favorite things about working in the scrapbooking and paper crafting industry is when I get to teach others to make beautiful and meaningful things. So when the opportunity came to visit South Africa to teach with Echo Park Paper, I was more than thrilled.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have had a few specific places I have wanted to visit. I visited London and Paris two years ago. And this month I had the incredible opportunity to visit South Africa. All three places were on my "Top Ten Places to Visit."

Here's a little synopsis of my trip:

Teaching in South Africa

On the evening of September 9th, late in the evening, I entered the airport to catch my first flight to New York. I felt a mixture of both excitement and nerves settle in as I prepared to check-in for my flight. I worried that my bag was too heavy. I worried that I hadn't packed enough in my carry-on in case my luggage got lost. And I really worried when the guy going through my suitcase told me that shoes were no longer allowed in luggage. In my over-excited state, I actually believed him for a second there.

As I presented my ID and Passport and then waited at my gate, I tried to wrap my head around the fact that I would soon be on a trip that would eventually take me to a magical place I had always dreamed of.

I slept soundly on the plane during my red-eye flight and arrived bright and early at JFK airport the next morning. The airport was quiet except for security. That line seemed to stretch on for days. Many people who, like me, must have come in on early flights had found places to rest all through the airport. I could hardly wait to find my next gate and rest myself.

After visiting the currency exchange to get some cash for the trip, I settled on the floor at my gate and caught a few Zzzz's while waiting. I had a six hour layover that involved napping, reading, watching TV, and just contemplating things to come, things in the past, and things I hope to do. Too much time on my hands makes me pensive I suppose.

As I boarded my long flight to Johannesburg, I realized that the next time I stepped off the plane I would be in a whole new world. While many people on the plane kept busy with the movies provided or the distractions they had brought, I was tired enough to sleep for much of the flight. I prefer to sleep on flights as much as possible. I really am not the best flyer and anything that helps me sleep is a good thing!

At one point I did wake to read for a bit and then take a peek out the window (another thing I avoid as part of my nervous flying condition). It was beautiful to watch the sun set and the sun rise as we crossed the continents and flew towards Africa.

In Johannesburg, I had a short layover long enough to clear customs and get to my next gate. And then it was onto another plane that took me on to Capetown. Unfortunately the layover wasn't long enough to reach my gate in time for my original flight so I had to rebook a later flight. Thankfully they had one leaving in just 45 minutes. The gate where I waited had only 20 seats for each flight. That meant many people were standing. Thankfully I nabbed a seat and rested while I waited. I felt slightly sick after my long flight and was grateful for the break in between flights. By the time I boarded my last flight I was feeling much better.

I met Glenda Viljoen and several other teachers as I grabbed my luggage and jumped into the waiting van that took us to our hotel. This is the beautiful hotel where we stayed and the room in which I stayed. The windows cranked open onto a view of Table Mountain. Several times as I opened the window a bird would hop to the sill and sing to me questioningly.

After dinner I was happy to curl up in bed and rest horizontally for a change.

The following day I lounged around for a bit before reporting to the ballroom to teach my first class. The delegates were an incredible bunch of people, eager to learn, believers in the whole memory keeping process. It was an absolute privilege to be with them! I always feel honored to be with other women who love this hobby as much as I do.

That evening we went as a group to dinner and then I hopped into bed only to discover that my mind was still on Utah time. I could not sleep even though I felt completely exhausted. I've never had jetlag at the first of my trip. Typically I experience it when I'm returning home. I tossed and turned for HOURS only to finally drift off early the next morning.

For our final day in Capetown, I wanted to explore so I joined Laura and Jonathan Graff on a hop-on, hop-off tour of the surrounding area. Those two talked me into taking a frightening ride up the tram to explore the top of Table Mountain. When I say I nearly passed out on the ride up, I'm being completely serious. I don't do well with heights or things of the unknown. But the view from the top was mind-blowing. You could see for miles in either direction and get a much better feel for the beautiful Capetown area. Still I'm not sure I could ever do it again. But they are right. I'm glad they talked me into it.

As we rode around the cape, I breathed in the scent of the sea. I've never seen a sea with both turquoise water lapping up against sandy beaches, as well as, dark purple patches of color mixed into the surf. It was incredible, and I kept thinking how much my husband would love the experience.

The next morning we headed back to the airport to catch a flight to Port Elizabeth. I think Capetown may be one of the prettiest places I've visited. Such a wonderful group of people, the mix of the sea and the city. It's my kind of place.

Stay tuned for more of my trip coming tomorrow!


  1. I'm so happy for you. It is awesome that you overcame your fears and rode the tram up the mountain. You survived and you CAN do it again! Can't wait for part two.

    1. I hope I'm brave enough, Kelly! :)

  2. Love hearing about your adventures and seeing the pictures! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Looks like you had an amazing adventure. I'm so happy to hear you were able to get a lot of sleep on the ride over. My rule of thumb is I always experience jet lag heading East. So when I go to Europe I experience bad jetlag on the trip and when returning from Asia I experience it when I get home. :)

    1. That's makes sense, Mendi, with the time differences!

  4. Linda taylor3:15 PM

    Loved your class: was my favourite of all the amazing classes at the Cape Town convention. So glad you enjoyed your brief stay in the fairest Cape and I hope that you get to come back and explore some more.

    1. Linda, you are SO sweet!! I love Cape Town. It was incredible. :)

  5. Looks like an amazing time Jen! Enjoy and safe travels!

    1. It really was! Thanks, Celeste!

  6. Just read all three posts about the trip and it sounds amazing!! Thanks for sharing with us.


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