Before each new trip I find myself juggling the nauseating concoction of excitement and apprehension. They are much the same but cause greatly differing reactions. Today I am taking on a new adventure, a new continent and a new country. Today I travel to South Africa.
It’s a country synonymous with conflict and corruption yet boasts beauty, history and strength. Here lies the confusion. I’m apprehensive about our safety on the trip. South Africa does unfortunately have a reputation for danger and violence. I am apprehensive about the culture; it is one I’ve never experienced before. A country very modern and forward thinking in some senses yet trapped in a medieval way of thinking in others.
Despite this, I can’t hide the excitement. I’m heading to South Africa primarily to attend the wedding of close friends. What better way to experience the culture of South Africa than to attend the wedding of two of its people. Away from the cities, away from the touristy coastline I will experience the real South Africa.
But of course I couldn’t visit South Africa without taking as much of it in as possible. The trip presents an opportunity to explore South Africa’s rugged landscape. It is undoubtedly a gorgeous country with a rich history and heritage. Its landscape is vast, wild and rustic. It’s a world away from anywhere I have seen before and I’m expecting a culture as unique and interesting as its history. I will travel the ‘Garden route’ coastline, camp under the African sky, experience small town South Africa, the vibrant cities and the majesty of Table Mountain. I can’t wait to Braai under the stars, divulging in the food and beer which gives South Africa so much character.
I do have a pre-existing connection to South Africa and I can’t decide whether this is a good or bad thing. My girlfriend is South African, she grew up a South African and the spirit of the country still lives within her soul. She has strong memories of her time there, both good and bad. Her friends still live there and consequently so do mine. I have heard so much about this fantastic country and by far the most imposing fact is that South African’s are proud to be so. They are able to look past whatever is going on in the country and still see an opportunity for freedom.
I travel with an open mind. I have purposefully not researched too much in to the country as I have my own walking, talking tour guide in Liska. I don’t want to arrive with any pre developed ideas or prejudices about South Africa or its people. I want to experience them face on and I hope that when I leave, I do so with the same love of the country that its natives feel.
Sala kahle (Goodbye and Stay Well)