May 22nd, 2009

South Africa

by Maria
Posted in South Africa

South AfricaSouth Africa; now here is a country with a serious, serious PR problem. Whenever we’ve spoken to people and told them we’ve been or are going to South Africa, we’ve always gotten the same reaction: fear. “But it’s so dangerous!”, “I’ve always wanted to go but there is so much crime”, etc etc. For many, South Africa seems to conjure up images of complete lawlessness. We’ve spent over four months here. If all the rumours and speculation were true, then we should have been killed at least 20 times by now. We haven’t been, not even once. ;-) Would you believe people say “please” and “thank you” here too? Okay, okay. I’m being completely facetious; I’m just trying to make a point. Yes, the statistics are there, yes there is a serious crime problem, yes you need to be vigilant, smart and cautious but that doesn’t mean you will be mugged as soon as get off the plane.

SweetiesSouth Africa has a disproportionate amount of incredible and unforgettable places to see and things to do; in fact, it actually borders on the ridiculous. Table Mountain, Cape of Good Hope, the Garden Route, the Winelands, Drakensberg Mountains, Blyde Canyon, Kruger Park, Tsitsikamma National Park, the Wild Coast; the list goes on and on. Pass up on South Africa and you will miss out on absolutely stunning landscapes, tons of wildlife and endless outdoor adventures. South Africa is a country of UNBELIEVABLE, natural beauty and still that is secondary to me. To me, South Africa represents incredible dignity and hope. After almost two years of travel, it remains one of the countries where I have been humbled, taken aback and moved the most. It’s intoxicating. This is a critical point in South Africa’s history, a time of change and hope. Are there still issues? Yes, of course. You just need to drive around and you’ll see sprawling, world-class estates, next to shack-lands, mere tin walls held together with a handful of nails and rocks. However, despite this, there is an incredible, undeniable spirit and dignity that is both humbling and very difficult to explain, but we witnessed it time and time again as we travelled through the country.

I won’t claim I know South Africa or that I understand it; that is something that is reserved for those that lived here through the turmoil of that last few decades. I can however say, without any doubt, that it is a land of stunning beauty and even more stunning hope and potential, OMG the potential. Amazing people, things and ideas will come out of this land. I’m convinced of it.

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