YAAAHHOOOO!!!! Tomorrow is our big day – we are reuniting with our beloved animals and bringing them home!!! Can you believe it?! My feelings inside are truly beyond words to describe and as I am writing the tears of joy are building up… Lizaene!! – WE DID IT!! Over a year ago we started with a big dream and now we are here with a big reward at the end of the rainbow! The establishment of Panthera Africa has been the most exciting yet challenging time of my life, and I will try my best and paint you the picture of how this year has been and hopefully you will get an idea of how incredible this all is for Lizaene and myself <3
After having searched for the perfect land for over four months, Lizaene and myself finally found our heaven on earth in the small village of Stanford, less than two hours from Cape Town. I am smiling here I am sitting thinking about the bargaining process and all the emotions between Lizaene and myself! We had our max limit set out after months of budgeting costs down to the smallest of details. I knew I had to put in a very tough fight to manage to get within our target as the asking price for the property was way to high. But you got to aim high 🙂 So after haggling back and forth for some days we had eventually put in our highest offer and I told the broker; “This is it!”. The broker said, “Well, I am sorry but I am sure this is too low!”, but I still told her to go back to the owner and again tell her about our purpose for this land, and this is as far as we could stretch. Lizaene was jumping next to me saying, “We need to give more, we can’t lose this property!!” and the temperature between us got quite high to say it mildly ;-). I tried to stay calm and collected but inside I was terrified because I KNEW this was our land and we just HAD to get it. After some hours, on our way to Douglas, the phone rang and it was the broker. My heart rose immediately and nervously I answered the phone… Guess what she said; “Well Cathrine, this is your lucky day – the owner finally agreed and the property is yours”!!! We both screamed of joy and got so excited that we nearly drove off the road!! WE HAD FINALLY GOTTEN OUR LAND!!! I will never forget the feeling when returning to OUR property some months later – the tears just started to flow – this 40 hectare of paradise was going to be the home for our beloved animals and the blessed and exciting future for Lizaene and myself!
Over the next half year the events followed – a true roller coaster ride with it’s very highs and very lows. I want to be honest and say that all though I feel truly blessed to have found my purpose in life, it has been a challenging time, even to the point of giving up. But hey, there is no giving up, right? Here is a brief resume of how the events and emotions unfolded… The excitement we felt on the road trip from Bloemfontein to Stanford towards the land of our dreams, the not too excited feelings I felt during the time I spent at the local backpackers, the amazing gesture from my beloved dear friend Janet when she invited us to stay with her until the property transaction was complete, the indescribable despair when we got frauded and the deposit on the house got stolen, the thrill of booking our contractor to start the construction of the enclosures, the indescribable disappointments when having to cancel the TLB and workers because of record reaching amount of rain the week before start up and the property was a swimming pool, the excitement of moving into the new house and getting everything sooo nice, the devastation of feedback from Cape Nature that we needed the tourist approval prior to being allowed to house our animals which meant we had to wait another five months till November, the feeling of a purposeful future when being in dialogue of establishing a partnership with an international animal welfare organisation, the anger when the pole order, three days before delivery, said they couldn’t deliver (8 weeks preorder), and the blessing of Seef, our contractor, who managed to get it all from another supplier in just three days, the frustration of receiving the wrong fencing material, the pure joy of seeing the first pole planted, the total devastation of believing that I had lost one of my fourlegged soul mates, the peace and recharge of my soul when visiting my other soul mates and being reminded why we were creating Panthera Africa, the nerve wreacking situation of seeing the bank account dropping insanely quick as all the bills needed to be paid, the proudness of managing to rearrange our money in order to save more animals, the constant longing and missing of the animals and fear of being driven too far away from them, the overwhelming gratitude for my Norwegian friends who made it possible to save my beloved Oliver, the heartache of knowing Obi needed immediate care yet not being able to do anything about it, experiencing miracles along the way of meeting the right people at the right time and place, the absolute shock of not receiving the freezer container and realising we again were frauded for a lot of money, the gratitude of a helping hand from a close friend to manage to buy another freezer, the testing of patience over and over and over again dealing with the approval processes for municipality and Cape Nature, the tears of joy running down my face when finally receiving the tourism approval, the terrifying news of finding out that the environmental department wasn’t sure after all and that we might need to go through a new process of 6 months (this news we received just before Christmas!!), the blessings from great friends and my aunt from Norway celebrating Christmas with us and making it a very special time, the pressure on my shoulders the day of the inspection from the environmental Department – I knew we HAD to get this accepted both for the life of Obi and for our financial situation, the constant help from permanent and other volunteers who have all become good friends, the fright of seeing the budget showing minus in just two months, the total sense of relief when receiving the approval from the environmental department, the mental and physical complete tiredness after a roller coaster ride over the last year, and now today the ultimate feeling of completion as the light in the end of the tunnel is glowing ever so bright! A new chapter of Panthera Africa is about to begin and I am ready!!! I don’t know how many times I have pinched myself over the last year, and I have done it about ten times during these last two weeks – MY DREAM IS COMING TRUE – I WILL FOREVER BE WITH MY LALA AND KEEP MY PROMISE TO OLIVER TO HAVE HIM WITH ME ONE DAY!!
So with this first blog for Panthera Africa I hope you get a feeling of how the journey has been so far, and we will all keep you posted on everything happening from here on. I want this blog to share dreams, hopes, our ups and downs, and include everyone from volunteers, staff, friends and family, and who ever feels the urge to share some words. Thank you to everyone who has helped, supported, and been there with and for me over the last year! Without you I wouldn’t be here!
My mother’s words are playing loundly in my head – “You can manage anything you want, Cathrine! Put your mind to it, work hard, and focus on the goal! You will see – your dreams will come true!!” And yes, they do indeed….