I woke up to a sun-filled day in a new part of the world. I had briefly touched down in Johannesburg for a short layover before continuing on to Cape Town upon my arrival in South Africa. I had been awed by the purple landscape that grew in front of me, as jacaranda trees in full bloom seemed to cover the city. It was beautiful from the bird’s eye view of my little airplane window. I would only be in the city for a few nights now, before heading out for my overland tour though, so whatever images I could retain were fleeting.
The plan for the day was to go pick up Naude’s wife at the airport, before heading out to Sun City. She had been in Italy on a business trip and was returning early this fine morning. I received a perfunctory bowl of cereal and then we were out to the car. It was not exactly a glamorous start to the riches that Jo’burg offered, but more kin would be added to the growing list of relatives. I soaked in all that the speeding vehicle’s window offered before we pulled into the parking lot at the airport. We headed inside and stood milling about with a large group awaiting their own arrivals. Naude chatted away about his wife and step-children, Johannesburg and his version on the politics of the country. I too added stories from home, but then paused.
Naude saw me staring into the crowd and said, “ what are you looking at?”
“There is a person over there that looks like someone I went to highschool with,” I commented.
“Go and talk to her,” he exclaimed peering into the crowd.
The odds of standing in the middle of the Johannesburg airport and spotting a familiar face from a home thousands of miles away were very slim.
I shook my head and said, “It can’t be her. What would she be doing in South Africa?”, but I did continue to peer in her direction. I could not get over how familiar this woman looked. It couldn’t be her though. I turned back to my uncle and we continued our conversation.
“Katherine?” I heard called out.
Oh my God! Familiarity was true.
“Miki?!” I shouted with excitement and surprise.
We rushed over to each other and hugged each other with disbelief.
“What are you doing here?” I asked.
“My brother is flying in to meet me,” she explained. “He has been in England, but we made a plan for him to come here and travel around South Africa together.”
I was floored. She was waiting for her brother. He was flying in from England. I was waiting for my cousin’s wife. She was flying in from Italy. They were on two separate flights, but yet coincidence had both flights arriving at around the same time. I bumped into a high school acquaintance on the other side of the world by the sheer luck of timing. The coincidence did not stop there though. Miki introduced me to her travelling companion. It was a young Africaaner she had met while touring around Europe.
“Where are you going?” he inquired of me.
I explained that I was headed to Botswana for an Overland tour in the morning. Then it was my turn to ask of their destinations. They were headed down the coast and planning to arrive back in Cape Town closer to Christmas.
“I will be back in Cape Town at Christmas as well,” I said.
“Whereabouts?” he inquired.
“My Aunt and Uncle live in Brackenfell,” I replied.
“Oh ja, whereabouts?” he inquired again.
I was impressed. He knew the suburbs of Cape Town.
“They live in Protea Heights”, I said.
“Oh ja, whereabouts?” he asked.
Ok, now I was getting freaked out. He knew the town, subdivision and now was asking for their street! And you know what? He knew exactly their street was as well. It had gone past coincidence in my mind. Now it was fate, kismet, destiny even! I was flabbergasted.
As Miki’s brother had arrived, followed shortly thereafter by my cousin’s wife, we quickly hurried up our conversation. We exchanged phone numbers and addresses amongst the throng of people now jostling towards luggage carousels and gave a final hug goodbye. It was incredible to have met Miki so far from home and I knew that our destinies were to mesh again. For now though, other excursions were planned. A smile followed me out the door as we headed back out into the Johannesburg air once more.