Truly in Ingress you have an entire network of family and best friends...you just haven't met them in real life yet! The minute South African agents knew I was coming to visit them, my entire world was thrown upside down in the best of ways because, for once, I didn't have to plan or worry about a single thing. The agents of South Africa were all over it with amazing aplomb.
Pretoria, south africa- March 18, 2017
I was picked up by a wonderful Ingress couple and their very inquisitive 7-year-old bright and early Saturday Morning. I taught him about thumb wars and he asked me to say different words because he, "liked my accent." I had to remind myself not to freak out when Michelle would look at her phone whilst the car was in motion. I kept thinking, "She needs to look at the road!", before remembering that, duh, the steering wheel was on the other side. #rightsidewrongside
From there it was a whirlwind adventure as @JanniePannie, her husband, 3 cats, new puppy, menagerie of birds, and fish welcomed me into their home and their very very comfortable second bedroom. With just enough time to settle in and shower after my 27-hour trek across the planet, I was whisked off by @Dtribble to go do missions and find uniques!
I must say that Pretoria is absolutely gorgeous and their Parliamentary Building something to behold. But my most favorite mosaic from our adventures that day was the Voortrekker Monument. It was built to honor the first settlers and pioneers of South Africa.
As we walked around the monument in the exhaustive heat and oppressive humidity, I couldn't help but wonder at what it must have been like to make the 1500 kilometer trek by wagon train from the Cape of Good Hope.
The Explorer in me felt a deep kinship at that moment and I threw my arms out wide to send them strength and love from the future, marveling at their courage and spirit.
What came next really caught me off guard. The inner sanctum is designed a place of worship but with a unique twist of architecture. The ceiling is open to the elements and when the sun peaks at their summer solstice, a beam of light shoots onto an encrypted circular altar, the overall effect creating the Egyptian Hieroglyph for Aten.
Aten is seen as the creator, giver of all life, and nurturer of the spirit of the world. But what *is* "all-life" or the "spirit world". If you could look straight down from the top of the dome you would see a circle surrounding the sun disc illumination. The "All" glyph with the center dot illuminated. Could it have been their interpretation of XM influence and the barely understood dimension from where it flows from?
My spidey-sense tingled as I thought on the #Fateofthe13 currently battling across the globe, the impending #ReawakenMagnus, and work of investigators looking into the Tecthulhu device. I had to shake off the weight of it all and sent off my accidental discovery to our Lore Master @NolaCircuit.
I wrapped my first night in Africa with a surprise gathering by Enlightened agents and it was...surreal and magical...to put my arms around so many of the agents I got to know remotely during Aegis Nova. I *knew* them already. I can't explain it but we were already connected from the long hours of anomaly preparation and training. Hugs, tears, and many laughs later felt like I had come home. The coup de grace was having the opportunity to meet @AltarielValice, our team's XM sensitive and visionary who brought the Luminescent Heart into the world.
JOHANNESBURg, gautang province, south africa - March 19, 2017
Mission Day dawned bright and LOUD as the Ibis (known locally as hawdydaws) began their strange squawking while the sun was rising. I loved the view from my window...it felt like I was someplace foreign and magical. Truly a world apart from what I was used to and where I was from.
I had the pleasure of jaunting around with Agents @Merax and @Vacnaib for mission day. I got to dance in the street while fast and furious beats were called out, clapped, and grunted by a local youth performance group. Tasted my first "Red cappuccino" made of rooibos and cream that I found I quite liked, and then marveled at the warring nature of modernization vs cultural preservation that seemed to be prevalent throughout Johannesburg.
The wrap up party at SAB World of Beer was fabulous, and was so happy to bring everyone who attended surprise swag that consisted of hundreds of character cards, gear code cards, and lots and lots of faction-aligned goodies.
cape town, south africa - march 20, 2017
How much can you fit into 26 hours in one city? A whole lot apparently! There was NO WAY I was coming all of the way to South Africa without seeing more of my Aegis Nova buddies and the incredible city where the anomaly took place.
@NDSpark picked me up and after a another quick refresh, and hug from Lou, we headed out to their gorgeous Company Garden's district where the anomaly took place.
We meandered through incredibly dense trees that gave way to sweeping plazas garnering incredible views of the mountain and historical buildings surrounding the park.
Not only was it rife with the beautiful history of the region's colonization, but also their darker history of their very recent struggle with Apartheid. It was...difficult...to be surrounded by so much beauty within the gardens and then abruptly come upon two benches distinctly marked: "Whites only" and "Non-Whites only".
One of their oldest buildings is now a museum dubbed "The Slave Lodge", and is committed to showing the history of moving from, "...human wrongs to human rights...".
We capped the night off with an African BBQ called a braai at Lou and Nathan's place. It was great having agents from both factions attend and fun to hear about why each started, and still plays, Ingress. We did get a little bit of rain but it was worth it for the lightening show!
The next day @CapeValkerye (formerly @hig001 and one of the POCs for Aegis Nova) picked me and Lou up and we went up Table Mountain, through the entire Waterfront, and had breakfast at a great little Steampunk restaurant on the strip. Afterwards we met up with Willo, the other anomaly POC, his wife, kids, and a couple of other agents. After gabbing and eating for a long bit during a break between missions they suddenly realized...OMG LIBERTY NEEDS TO GET TO THE AIRPORT!
With quick hugs we dashed off and thanks to Irene's exceptional driving, I made it back to Cape Town Airport where @NDSpark and @CatTrim were waiting with goodbye hugs. As I ran off to customs, leaving my ZA family behind, I couldn't believe we had fit so many wonderful experiences into such a small amount of time.