Even though more than 10 days have passed since I arrived back in East Asia, I still can’t help thinking about South Africa. Some people talk about being bitten by the African bug and how Africa can grow on you and stay with you your whole life, and while I don’t think I’m so sentimental, I feel a return trip will really occur some time.
I had the privilege of spending seven weeks in South Africa with side trips to Lesotho, Botswana and Zambia, and at times I was a tourist, other times it was almost like I was living there. So you can imagine, in between the traveling to different cities and countries and visiting tourist sites, there was a lot of doing the most banal of things like bumming around in front of my laptop, watching DVDs, shopping at the mall and the local hypermarket with my relatives.
Things are so different between here and Africa, whether it be the people, the languages, the cultures, and just the general vibes. Having been away for so long, I’m having to get readjusted (no problem since I’ve been here for almost 2 years) and “reappreciate” the good things here such as safe and cheap public transportation and the hustle and bustle of an Asian metropolis.
South Africa is a very fascinating country; it’s both a regional, or should I say continental, superpower and an emerging but still developing nation. It managed to overcome apartheid and successfully hold a peaceful political transfer of power from a minority to the majority but is still grappling with trying to avoid the mistakes of other African nations in governance after their own majorities took power after independence.
Its three main cities are marvelous in their own ways, with one (hint – it’s name is two words) especially being extremely world-class, the coastline and mountains are spectacular, and the national parks are blessed with a diverse number of animals. The country’s people also blend Western/European and African influences, with a little bit of South Asian too in Durban’s case, making it possible to really feel in two worlds at times. For instance, you can be driving along a well-paved road and seeing baboons crossing or walking around in a supermarket that seems no different from any in North America or Trinidad but hearing multiple languages spoken around you. A less positive example would be passing a neighborhood filled with well-manicured, upscale houses that exceed those of most regular middle-class suburbs in Canada and then coming into contact with a community of small homes and shacks with outhouses noticeable in backyards and cows grazing in the yards.
Over the next week or so, I’ll be writing up more posts and putting up more pictures here as needless to say I’ve yet to fully extricate the memories from my mind.