Cape Town - As the Springbok bus left the team hotel in Port Elizabeth on Sunday morning, it looked like the wind, cold and rain would combine to make it the toughest and most unpleasant leg of this trophy tour so far.
Yet by the time the Webb Ellis Cup had reached Zwide, the township where this group's leader was born and raised, the sun had broken through the clouds and was smiling down on a man who has become the darling of South Africa.
Siya Kolisi's story of strife in his early years is well-documented, but seeing him return home a World Cup-winning hero after all of that adversity was something to behold.
Every day on this tour so far, the communities have taken celebrations to a new level, and that was the case once more in PE as thousands took to the streets.
A shirtless man ran over 11 km from the City Hall to New Brighton to keep up with the Bok bus.
Another dropped to his knees and bowed down as the bus drove past. When he raised his head from the pavement, his face was drenched in tears as he mouthed the word 'Kolisi'.
There is almost something spiritual about some of these reactions.
"When you look out there, you can't help but wonder how many more Siya Kolisis there are," Andre Rademan, the president of the Eastern Province Rugby Union, told me.
He spoke about the struggles the union has faced - financial and administratively – and how he desperately wants this World Cup success to be a catalyst for investment into the game in the region.
Kolisi, as he has done all tour, played the crowds perfectly.
As the bus moved through Zwide, we were given snippets of information from locals who knew the area.
"That's the ground where Siya used to play for African Bombers" and "That's the street where Siya watched the 2007 World Cup final at a tavern".
On this day, though, these were the streets where Siya gave hope to a black community that needs inspiration from somewhere.
"The thing with Siya is that it is all about his heart," Bok hooker Schalk Brits told me.
"When he was first made captain, people said he was a quota captain.
"But, inside the team, he earned our respect because of what he does on the field.
"When you look at his tackle counts and how hard he works during training, it makes it easy to follow him as a leader because he sets the example."
Kolisi's wasn't the only significant homecoming on the day, though.
Before the bus got to Zwide, it made its way through the township of New Brighton where Mzwandile Stick is from.
Not so long ago, Stick was labelled a 'quota coach' and incompetent by many sections of the country as the Boks struggled in their first year under Allister Coetzee.
Coetzee himself spoke publicly about the challenges of not being able to pick his own backroom coaching team, and Stick was made the scapegoat for those poor results and lost his job.
When Rassie Erasmus took over, one of his first appointments was to recall Stick to the Bok set-up and he has been widely praised for his work with the players in terms of aerial battles and in positioning at the breakdown.
Like with the successes of players like Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi, Stick thrived when given the opportunity and that came because of strong backing from the man above him.
For what seemed like the first time all tour, Erasmus finally made his way to the roof of the bus on Saturday.
He may be considered a Bloemfontein boy, but Erasmus was born in the small town of Despatch and this was a moment for him to take stock and remember where he himself had come from.
It was an unexpected and simply beautiful leg of the tour.
The reaction to Erasmus was not necessarily the hysteria that has accompanied Kolisi and his players so far. It was deeper than that and it came in the form of long standing ovations and heartfelt appreciation.
The players are the rockstars, but Erasmus is the architect that made all of it possible. His role in the success of 2019 can never be overstated, and it will come as music to South African ears that he reckons the Boks will have an even stronger team in 2023.
As has been the case every day, the Boks ran behind schedule because of the sheer volume of people that came out to see them.
When they eventually approached Cape Town around 90 minutes later than expected, there was another homecoming brewing.
It's been some year for 23-year-old Hershcel Jantjies, who set the world alight on his Bok debut back in July and hasn't looked back since.
As the plane landed at Cape Town International, he did a little dance in his seat.
Some of the Boks had plans that night with rumours of a lavish function at a Stellenbosch farm doing the rounds.
Jantjies, though, was having none of it.
"I haven't seen my family in nearly three months," he said.
"I'm going home."
Monday's Cape Town leg of the trophy tour will be the last.
*** Lloyd Burnard is travelling with the Springboks on their 2019 World Cup trophy tour as a guest of FNB …