South Africa, part 1
As we learned in my last entry, Johannesburg was a great comfort to me but I can’t tell you as much about the city as I can tell you about the plumbing in the place we stayed. One of the most enduring images I have is of neighborhoods of nice homes surrounded by big fences which were topped with razor wire . It looks like a fine place to live as long as you don’t mind living behind a gate. Our gate opener wouldn’t work one day and so we couldn’t leave. It was a little strange and it makes me wonder if this is the direction our world is going in. The further away you get from the city the less you see of people living in compound arrangements but high fences with razor wire is an aesthetic that South Africa seems to have grown accustomed to. I hope they get it all worked out, but the “apart” portion of “apartheid” still seems to have a place here.
Once we left Jberg, we were treated to some of the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen, and I have seen my portion.
It is always hard to imagine the largeness of a place until you go there and see great distances.
We were full of awe as we traveled through the Drakensberg Region.
Mountains and valleys surrounded by more mountains and valleys.
There are not that many places where one can see so much at once.
The closer we got to the shore the more population increased. We saw some communities that I had no reference for. They were kind of shantytowns but not really (OK, so some were “really”).
I know there are problems here with AIDS, and violence and poverty but everywhere I look I see proud people working. It bodes well for the future. This seems like such a rich country, I hope there comes a day when the dreams of men like Nelson Mandela can blossom into reality. SA, I am rooting for you!
If I had to summarize my impression of this continent in one word, I think it would be, vast. It is vast in terms of space; it has large expanses of landscapes that would rival anything you might find in Montana or Wyoming. It is also vast in terms of the many different ways that people experience life here. I tried to talk with our friends Christel, who lives in Cape Town part time (and Madagascar the other) and Corne about what kind of political climate has created this place. I know only what I have heard from the American Press and they only talk about it when they don’t have a good Anna Nicole Smith scandal to cover. It is terribly complex and though there has been progress, there are problems that make American politics seem like Romper Room. It is too big for me to get my head around but I hope for a day when everyone is able to partake in the abundance that seems to exist here and that people don’t feel like they have to live behind razor wire.
The south coast of Africa was another visual treat and again I was interested to see how people live. I saw rural communities made up of tiny but loved homes painted in a broad palet of crayon box colors. A lot of the homes were round with thatch roofs.
I remember seeing a house like that on the cover of a book that my father had and thinking how strange and foreign it looked.
We underestimated the amount of time it would take us to get were we needed to go so saw a lot, but much of it was from our car window. Oh, and there was a day spent standing by the side of the road waiting for a tow truck and a new rental car…
yeah, I tipped a rental car but Ron is more interested in talking about that than I am. He got it all documented and I am sure will have plenty to say in his entry. You will all be happy to know that my teeth are fine.
I may write more about it once I figure out why it was really Ron’s fault (though I was the one driving). Ok, I will say one more thing… I got out of my newly tipped car, and looked at the gravel under my feet and what did I find, but an orange bread bag closure device (bread tab). If you don’t already know it, orange is important to me and bread tabs remind me of Mom. She saved them to the point of irrationality and I teased her about it but when she died, I couldn’t throw her collection away and now I can’t pass one on the street without picking it up and thinking of her… orange bread tabs are very rare so, thanks Mom for being there and looking out for us.