Hello Esther, Ton and family,
I have just returned from my trip to Africa. I loved it so much that I decided to stay on longer.
As promised, I took Loes’s ashes with me. It was a very emotional task setting her free but I did it for her..and for you, her family. I decided to let her go in her special places.
I also had her service sheet from her funeral and took photos on my journey which I will upload to her memory website as soon as possible.
The first site for her ashes was at the base of Dune 45 in Namibia. We had gone there before the sun rose in the morning. I walked a short distance up the dune then sat and waited. When the sun was up I walked to the base and to the side where I knew no one would walk. There I let her go onto the side of the dune. Dune 45 was always somewhere Loes talked about and she was proud that she had made it to the top. You will remember it by the large image she has on her photo book.
The next site was at the waterhole in Etosha , Botswana. Her and I sat there together and waited for the animals to come at night time. I sat in the exact same place we sat in 2009. It was a bit eerie because there wasn’t a breath of wind. I let her ashes go over the side of the stones where she could see all the animals without being disturbed. At that same moment the wind got up quite strong. But as I walked away.....it stopped suddenly !! I knew that Loes had been there with me and that she approved. You will see two rhinos at the waterhole in the photo attached. Last time we were there , there was lots of people and not many places to sit. This time was quiet and no one was beside me to see what I was doing. That in itself I thought was unusual. Maybe Loes had a hand in that to make sure it was a private moment.
The third site was on the river bank at South Luangwa in Zambia. That was one place we both loved and had talked about going back there . I was fortunate enough to be given a tent right on the river bank . I could hear the hippos grunting all through the night and lions calling in the distance. On the morning I left there, the sun was shining and I left some ashes over the edge so she could watch the elephants on the other side of the river. I took a photo of her doing just that which is why I made that choice to leave some ashes there.
The final site was the most important. The Maasai Mara, in Kenya. I was there for a week and each day we drove around the Mara, I was looking for the perfect spot. I wanted a spot that wasn’t going to be too busy with vehicles, was wide open to view the landscape, was clean and without lots of untidy bushes, and near an acacia tree (an icon of Africa ). On the afternoon before I left I was out on a game drive. I was stressing that my time was running out as I was leaving the next morning. For some crazy reason the Tanzanians had been burning fires on the boundary to stop the animals migrating and there was smoke in the sky. As we were driving along, I had been looking to my left and trying not to be emotional about the last lot of ashes. I looked to my right and in the sky was the shape of a heart...made in the smoke . I thought that I was seeing things so kept looking . As I looked , the heart turned into the shape of a woman’s face. I was going to take a photo but it was almost as if I could hear Loes telling me that I didn’t need a photo. Then it just disappeared. It was then that I knew Loes was with me and that it was ok. As we drove back from that game drive I found “the spot “. You will find attached a photo of me letting her ashes go ( kindly taken by my supportive driver/guide ) and the tree at sunset is where she rests.
So....Loes has travelled through Africa again on the same path as she did in 2009. With an added bonus of finally getting to see the lions ( and everything else ) in the Mara.
I thank her family again for giving me the privilege of fulfilling her last wish and it was an honour to be able to do that precious thing for my dear friend.
The photos attached , I hope, will give you peace of mind.
Like I said, I will upload her service sheet photos as soon as possible. I didn’t take any towards the end because the paper became very tattered and worn. At one point I was going to put it in my big suitcase to protect it but I didn’t think Loes would like that. So every day, it was in my day bag which is why it got tattered. But at least she went everywhere I did.
My best regards to the family and thank you again,