We left Marseille on Sunday, 13 September at 15h30 after Dawie returned home from AVIS with our car. All our belongings were packed, the house was clean and the food for the road was ready. We drove along the coast, avoiding the expensive toll roads, on our way to Italy – our very last stop on a 9 month journey around the world. We stopped for picnic at a Typical French Riviera holiday town. We sat on the rocks with the waves crashing at our feet, later having a pebble throw competition and watching the sun drop into the sea. It was glorious. Life is good – very good, and we are grateful for what we can experience. We drove over a mountain pass. and slept at Cannes. Monday morning, we continued along the coast up to Monaco. It was spectacular scenery all the way – yet a different example of God's Creativity! Monaco was busy, packed with (seemingly) rich people. We saw the whole of the kingdom of the Garibaldi's, on the day 20 years after their beloved Princess Grace died.
Then we took a toll road – we need to put some kilometers behind us now. We drove on a road crossing the mountains, but we never went up or downhill, because the road is like a chain consisting of tunnel-bridge-tunnel-bridge. Amazing what man and money can do. We entered Pescia, a small town in Tuscany,in pouring rain. It was 16h00, as planned . We met our home exchange host at the supermarket after buying food for the next week. The food was the most affordable prices in the whole of Europe so far. The price of a bread is half of what it is in France!
Soon we were off to our very last house on this adventure of ours. We were following Gloria to the house high up in the mountains. She will take us there, as there is no adresse to put on the GPS and explaining the way is also a challenge. "How can we explain this to anyone or really describe it well on a blog, so that they will understand?", we told each other. The excitement, the newness, the uncertainty, the thankfulness, all of it mixed together, is a feeling that we have enjoyed throughout our 9 months. "It is the last time, remember to drink it in and remember...", we reminded each other.
We left Pescia, and the talking and excitement switched over to utter concentration. The road went up into the mountains, steep and curving the whole time. That in itself is not a problem, but the road is VERY narrow – many places room for only one car! Our guide car went fast, as we found out to be the normal way the Italians drive. When going around a blind corner(of which there are many), the hooter is blown, but the speed remains the same."What do you do if there is a car coming from the front?", some one asked."You hope there is no car coming", was my only answer.
Not many turns after my "wise " words, there came a car from the front. When we saw the car for the first time, it was perhaps 3meters from us. We were very slow at that stage and Dawie hit the brakes. I remember closing my eyes and feeling us stopping, thinking that we missed each other, only to hear and feel the CRASH!
The other car were unfortunately very fast, and although he did brake, he could not stop before driving right into us – almost head on(that's how wide the road is there on that blind turn in the road) When I opened my eyes, I saw the nose of our silver Ford and the red Fiat completely smashed and folded into each other. Then, looking to my left to Dawie and to the back to the 3 boys, seeing everyone is fine. My question confirmed it. All 5 were 100% fine, not even a bump, but the car is close to a right off. By then I gladly saw the 2 men in the other car also climbing out, they were scolding in pure Italian, but they were uninjured. in one piece. Praise God!
Oh no! Can it be real? Thank you God! Sadness. Thankfulness. All of these emotions and thoughts went through my heart and mind simultaneously. Car nr. 13 on this tour is smashed! Our last car and that 1km from our house. We had an accident, but we are all fine and we can walk away from the accident scene. Praise the Lord.
After that, things happened fast. Gloria phoned whoever needed to be phoned, our luggage and food and ourselves were loaded into Gloria's car and taken to our house, a tow-in truck came to take both cars away, we greeted our hosts and the 5 of us were alone. We were safe and sound, but bruised(not physically) and sad and quiet. We ate the meal that I have prepared by now and prayed together, giving thanks mostly. We were sitting in a house built in the 1200's, almost unreal the privilege to stay in such a place, a fitting "grand finale" for our world tour, but we were some what quiet. Dawie J was trying his best to cheer everyone up, continuously confirming his love for us and that everything is OK! So special how God uses us all differently... The rain continued to fall down.
We went to bed, thankful for saved lives, and prayed for the many people who has lost loved ones in accidents like this one. The next morning at the breakfast table, we spend a long time sharing our hearts, asking and answering each others questions, seeking together for things that we've done wrong, repented for what was needed, looking ahead, finding the life lessons that we can learn and prayed together. We asked God that He will help us to walk away from the accident psychologically and spiritually in the same healthy way as how we could do it physically. We decided once again that one of the most valued and important things in our family, is that we must live in unity and treasure our lives to the full. We also trust God 100% as before the accident, we know that He is in control and we are fully committed and relying on Him. We are so glad to be His children.
Yes, bad things do happen, but God is good. Life can sometimes be hard, but God is good – all the time. We praise His name. We will follow Him, because that is the safest place to be.
Thank you Jesus.