05 February 2013

{A Lesson on Jurgen's History}

Phew.  I officially survived the first week of Master's... but only barely.  Week one is supposed to be somewhat of an initiation to the year and one of the toughest five-day periods of the whole programme.  If they were trying to scare the bazeezers out of us and/or covertly conduct a study on the effects of sleep deprivation, they definitely succeeded.  Let's hope that from here on forth things will be a bit more manageable and I'll be able to ascertain some sense of balance in my life, including finding time for this little blog of mine!

Anywho, now that I do have a bit of time on my hands, I wanted to start sharing some of the recaps from our trip to Namibia.  I figure that it's probably best to start from the beginning and first up on our itinerary was a wonderful Christmas spent on Jurgen's family farm!

Some of you may already know that Jurgen is not actually South African - he's Namibian, which is a country just north of South Africa on its western side.  Namibia was initially a German colony, then a South African territory, and finally an independent nation state in 1990.  So when Jurgen was born, the country was actually considered as being a part of South Africa and went by the name of South-West Africa.  Consider that your history lesson for the day ;)

History aside, Jurgen spent the first twelve years of his life in the little farming town of Gobabis {located close to the Botswana border}, growing up on this very farm, riding along with his uncle to cattle auctions, and attending the local primary school.  After primary school his parents sent him to South Africa to attend boarding school {which is very common in this part of the world} and they eventually moved to South Africa themselves where they have since permanently set up shop.

However, his Aunt and Uncle still live on the farm in Namibia and we try to head up for a visit every chance we get.  Jurgen always says that the farm is the only place where he truly feels at home.  And, I can see why.  It's peaceful, tranquil, secluded, and the stars are something out of this world.  Over the past ten or fifteen years, his Aunt and Uncle have also converted the farm into a 'big cat' sanctuary of sorts - rescuing lions, leopards, and cheetahs that were either unable to care for themselves in the wild or on the list to be euthanised for aggressive behaviour towards humans.

Let's be clear - this basically makes the farm my favorite place on earth.

The leopard {Akila} is semi-tame and loves human interaction.  She purrs like a big old kitty and likes to lie on the ledge next to the outside table while we're eating.  She'll follow you up and down the length of her pen and will spend hours allowing you to scratch her neck through the fence.  She's gorgeous.  I'm obsessed.  Jurgen literally had to drag me away from her time and time again.  In addition to Akila, there are six cheetahs {two of which are tame}, two female lionesses, and one male lion named Zabu.  And then of course there's Beeno, the sweet and cuddly yellow labrador in the pictures above.  In the evenings you can hear Zabu roar deeply as the lionesses echo back in response.

The whole feel of the place is magical and whenever we visit I can't help but develop the sense that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be in that moment.  Couple everything with some of the kindest, warmest, and most welcoming people and you've ever met and the whole experience comes full circle.  This year it was the perfect place to spend the holidays.

Thank you so much for always welcoming us into your home, Oom Gerald and Tannie Tina!  We can't wait until we're able to visit you guys again {hopefully sooner rather than later}!

{More photos of the farm to come on Thursday!}


  1. Oh wow Jenna - you are one lucky girl to have such a place in the family! The entire property looks stunning!

  2. That house is so beautiful!! What a great story that he grew up in that part of the world and to be able to re-visit every now and then to a place where they rescue big cats...sounds like a dream life! :)

  3. i have always wanted to go! - AH-MAZE-BALLZ!!!

    what is your life???

    okay, calming down - the big cat sanctuary is so cool! that's an amazing thing to get to see and experience.

  5. Oh my gosh, that farm/big cat sanctuary sounds like my dream come true! One of my bucket list items is to pet a big wild cat like a cheetah or lioness. What an awesome experience for you!

  6. You are officially marrying into the coolest. family. ever.

  7. Ah I just love those kitties! Nice to have you back and well done for survivng the start of Masters

  8. Wow. That is really amazing. I would love to be able to see somewhere like that someday!

  9. I know I've told you this maybe a dozen times, but your life is so amazing!!! I love it.

  10. Gosh, I love the leopard!!! Cant believe that you can almost cuddle it through the fence!! Amazing! And the farm looks absolutely stunning! I can understand why Jurgen feels home there!

  11. SO, I'm very late to this party, but is the sanctuary open to the public? We would love to go! That leopard might get stolen, however :)



Thanks for the love!