A true story of the mystery package that inspires a young Australian girl to travel to South Africa and create her true freedom-to-travel lifestyle.
35 years ago, a mystery package arrived in our mailbox. It was a big, rectangular, yellow-golden envelope, and I could feel the soft, spongy bubble wrap inside. The name on the front was written in shaky handwriting. I had to check twice to make sure it was my name on the label!
"Yes! It was for me!" I looked at the postmark. It said "WA". My package had travelled all the way from the other side of Australia. How exciting! It was from my beloved Nanna. I had hardly met this old woman in person, but I loved her dearly. She would send me letters laced with lavender perfume along with photographs of herself so I would never forget her - and I never did.
As I hurriedly tore the big envelope open, I was oblivious to how much this surprise package would play in inspiring a young girl's heart to know the world and its amazing people.
Inside the package, I could see the cover of a massive scrapbook made as thick as a novel. I pulled it from the bubble wrap and started to leaf through its pages. In an instant, I was hooked, captivated. Each page had been lovingly filled, jam-packed with intriguing pictures of different people and places from around the world. Each picture had been carefully cut out from a magazine or book with the caption left on.
Back then, there was no YouTube, Google, or Wikipedia. I didn't have a computer, and what the heck was the Internet? My Nanna didn't have a lot of money for expensive gifts either, but she did have a big heart with a lot of love for me. Did she ever know that each time I leafed through her scrapbook, she took me to faraway places I'd never imagined?
Did she ever know that each time I leafed through her scrapbook, she took me to faraway places I'd never imagined?
My eyes opened wide as exotic people and places enthralled me. I saw Thai dancers with beautiful golden tiaras. I saw the Amazon jungle and many amazing colourful birds. I read about the tribal people of Africa with their faces painted and chunky jewellery. I saw English rose gardens, the Grand Canyon, and many fascinating animals - springbok, giraffe, bears, deer, and lion. I was fascinated and delighted.
Sadly, within 5 years of that package arriving, my Nanna passed away, but her legacy never did. Suddenly, I got no more letters or packages from her, but still, her memory continued as I looked through her scrapbook.
And today, all these years later, I especially remember my Nanna, and I say thank you to her for lighting the fire of curiosity that lived inside of me.
I have just returned from my first trip to South Africa where I went on my first ever African Safari. While we rode out at sunrise, I thought of my Nanna constantly and how, all those years ago, she inspired me to look for and love the many varieties and differences found in the world around us.
As I watched great families of elephants, lions and springboks and met and talked with the local people, my mind constantly flashed back to my Nanna and that old scrapbook.
"Hey Nanna", I said to myself with a little tear in my eye. "I just saw a springbok! I made it to South Africa, Nanna."
READ ANOTHER STORY | Determined to fulfill her life-long dream to shine in the spotlight, Mara quits her job and runs away with the circus, where she learns the ultimate lesson in vulnerability