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Our Glorious Wedding & Honeymoon

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(I do!!!)

Hard to believe that Darren and I wed almost six months ago! The old adage, ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ certainly seems to apply!

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(Getting ready)

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(Wedding Ring)

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(Bouquet)

First of all, I can’t begin to thank all of our friends and family, near and far, who made an effort to celebrate our special day. The wedding itself was truly spectacular – perfect weather, beautiful venue, and love all around!

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(Charys – the beautiful flower girl)

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(Darren and his best man, PJ)

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(Joshua)

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(Leopard Lodge)

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(Maia and Jazzy)

Maia and Jazzy, my nieces, surprised us by performing an acoustic duet during our wedding ceremony! Their talent, poise and grace blew me away…I am so proud of them!

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(Marina and Charys)

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(Father of the bride)

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(Darren at the alter)

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(Beautiful view)

And to make our wedding even more memorable, the children of Karabo Asara Orphan Center made a special appearance and performed traditional song and dance! Darren and I have dedicated the last few years to supporting this amazing facility, which provides care for over one hundred orphans and vulnerable children living in Shoshanguve, one of the largest townships in Pretoria.

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(Maia and Jazzy singing)

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(Bridesmaids)

Unfortunately, we hired two buses to bring the children from Shoshanguve to the wedding venue in Hartebeesport, but one of the buses broke down along the way, leaving one busload of children heartbroken for missing our big event.

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(Amy & Darren)

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(Amy & Darren)

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(the kiss)

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Despite the logistical glitches, having the children and caregivers of Karabo Asara at the wedding filled our hearts with so much joy. I’m truly proud to be a part of their lives!

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(Group Photo)

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(Parents)

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(Family)

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(Immediate family)

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(Extended family)

And I couldn’t help but feel blessed as I walked down the aisle and saw the faces of so many family and friends that I love and adore. In fact, I marveled over the representation of people from various phases of my life….from my childhood friends, to my friends from Emory and the University of Texas, to my friends from the Hula Hut/Austin, to my friends from Malawi, Vietnam and South Africa! I only wish that my friends from Jamaica could’ve also been here to celebrate….

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(Friends from South Africa)

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(Friends from Malawi)

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(Melanie!!!)

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(TINA!!!)

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(More family)

And of course, I can’t even begin to describe my elation of having so many relatives gathered in one place for a joyous celebration! Traveling to South Africa from the states (and from Switzerland) is no easy feat…I appreciate how much my family was willing to sacrifice to be here for Darren and me!

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(Safari photo shoot)

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And to make the most of our time together, we combined our wedding with a two-week chaperoned honeymoon with thirty of our closest friends and family!

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(Caregivers and Children from Karabo Asara Orphan Center)

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(performing)

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(Frank dancing)

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(Love all around)

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(On the road)

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(Father/daughter dance)

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(Throwing the bouquet)

Here’s a link to our wedding video: Wedding Video

First stop, a five-day safari at one of Madikwe’s most luxurious game lodges. For many family members, this was their first time to Africa and their very first safari…which made the entire experience simply enchanting.

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(Sundowners on safari)

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(Lioness with her cubs)

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(Cheetah)

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(Giraffe)

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(Giraffe Silhouette)

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(Elephant Silhouette)

My mom, aka Merryland, made all of the grandkids a nature book/journal where they could document all the species of birds, insects and animals that they accurately identified. It was a brilliant way for them to engage and to learn about African wildlife. She should actually look into publishing a series of books along these lines…we have several published authors in the family, perhaps this should be our next family initiative?!?

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(Wild dogs)

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(elephants)

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(More elephants)

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(Rhino)

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(Spoonbill)

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(Hornbill)

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(Lions)

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(Gorgeous sunsets)

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(Sundowners with Tina and Melanie)

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(Merryland and the grandkids with their nature journals)

Over the course of our many game drives, we saw the big five (elephants, rhino, lions, buffalo and leopard), plus we spotted cheetah and wild dogs! My personal highlight was when we came across a lioness with her three baby lion cubs.

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(Knysna Heads)

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(Celebrating Merryland’s Birthday)

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(Group photo at Knysna Waterfront)

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(Merryland & Koshieland)

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(Scottie @ Knysna Elephant Sanctuary)

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(Uncle Steve & Arlene)

All of us bonded over experiences of a lifetime! It’s not every day that you get to go on safari with your extended family…

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(Knysna Turaco)

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(Parrot)

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(Monkey Sanctuary)

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(Lemur)

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(Lemur crossing)

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After our adventures in Madikwe, we returned to Pretoria and flew to George to begin another weeklong journey exploring South Africa’s Garden Route with Knysna as our base.

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(Knysna Heads)

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(Tsitsikamma National Park)

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(Tsitsikamma National Park)

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(Marker)

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(Gorgeous views)

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(Tsitsikamma)

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(Gearing up for the zip line)

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(Robberg Nature Reserve)

With four rental cars in tow, we traversed the picturesque coastline, admiring the gorgeous beaches, rolling hills, and blue lagoons along the route.

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(Beautiful Mauritius)

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(Too ironic…perhaps we should start cleaning up the world, beginning with this beach)

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(Beautiful beaches)

Each day was a new escapade! We hiked the Knysna Heads, ventured to Tsitsikamma National Park, walked with elephants, played with monkeys, spotted birds, and trekked through Robberg National Park.

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(A room with a view)

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(Stunning sunsets)

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(Snorkeling trips)

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(Romantic dinners on the beach)

After our adventures in Knysna, our family went separate ways. Some continued on to Cape Town, others flew to Geneva for a follow-on ski adventure, and some returned home while Darren and I flew to Mauritius to have a proper honeymoon (minus the family).

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(Culture)

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(Driving through Black River Gorges National Park)

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(Driving through the mountains for Chamarel)

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(Stopping at random beaches along the side of the road)

Mauritius was stunningly beautiful. We hired a car and explored every nook and cranny of the island.

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(Swimming with dolphin)

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(Swimming with dolphin)

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We stayed in Grand Baie, a seaside village known for its fashion, crafts and beautiful beaches in the northwest part of the island. Despite the entire country being a bit too touristy, we loved our time there.

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(On the catamaran)

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(Gabriel Island Nature Reserve)

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(Gorgeous)

Our highlight was a catamaran trip to Gabriel Island, where we sailed through crystal clear waters with breathtaking scenery all around.

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(Darren)

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(Amy)

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(Amazing color of water)

We swam with dolphin off the coast of Tamarin (granted, I equally loved and hated this trip). As much as I adore and admire these playful, intelligent and graceful mammals, my heart went out to them as dozens of speedboats descended upon their habitat, all loaded with tourists hoping to swim with these magical creatures. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for these animals that were surely subjected to this harassment on a daily basis.

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(Beautiful church)

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Cap Malheureaux, home to the most photographed church on the island, remains one of my favorite stops. The little red-roofed church, which faces the lagoon, offered the quaintest imagery in Mauritius. I fell in love with this part of the country!
And despite Mauritius being known for its gorgeous beaches, we loved taking advantage of exploring the wonderful mountain hamlets of Chameral. We zigzagged our way along winding switchback roads, admiring the scenery and peaceful settings all around.

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(My favorite tree of all time)

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(Amy and Darren)

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(Botanical gardens)

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(Botanical Gardens – water lily)

We shopped along the waterfront in Port Louis and explored the local markets of Mahebourg. We snorkeled in Trou aux Biches and walked up and down the beaches of Flic en Flac, stopping off at countless lookouts and tourist destinations in between. By and large, we had a magnificent and memorable honeymoon!!!

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(Port Louis)

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(Last days)

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(Another day at this gorgeous tree)

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So much has happened since our wedding, including a trip to Zanzibar, more Karabo Asara projects, music festivals and fun times in between, but will save this for my next blog. Hopefully, it won’t take another six months to update.

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Work continues to go well, although my five-year contract in Pretoria is coming to an end. Darren and I are starting to plan our next steps. Will definitely keep you all posted.

Sending much love to all,
Amy