Friday, October 7, 2011

The Physical Beauty of South Africa

After a lay-a-bout day of rest we got up early for our first of two full days that we had booked with Henk and Lizelle Gous, an extremely hard working couple who run Sundowners Tours. Henk was oddly apologetic that some other people were going to be joining us but we were thrilled when we saw it was the four young women we had met the previous day as they rode horses through the compound. You could just tell right away that they were going to be fun!

What can I say about Henk? He’s been extremely helpful and professional with us but – if we were back in the States – we would not likely be friends. In Florida you’d refer to him as a “good old boy,” (God, Guns, Family) and he now and then slipped and let certain prejudices surface  “the Indians always do this, or Muslims are taking over.” Somehow it’s easier to ignore these comments  or try to understand where he's coming from but you can see that the rift the will always be here between the blacks and the Afrikaners, a divide that’s been hundreds of years in the making.
We took off on our Panorama Tour to see the beauty of the African countryside and found the beauty in our traveling companions as well, four single gals who work for the government pension office in Pretoria. Mathilde, especially, was so well-read and informed, that we learned more from her over the course of the day about the political situation here in SA and how young people see the future of their country than I think we had up to this point.

                                               In the meantime, Henk had the chance to share his obvious love and pride in his country and we got to see it through his eyes. Blyde River Canyon, a place that could pass for a miniature Grand Canyon, the Three Rondovals, a mountain range of mysterious formations, and God’s Window, a secret place where the clouds come down to cover the view one moment and retreat the next to reveal a breathtaking sight.

And yes, it was cold and cloudy! Who knew you’d be cold in Africa?

If there’s one thing that white and black agree on, sadly, it’s the massive corruption in the current South African government. How does a man like Jacob Zuma, who spent time as a political prisoner on Robben Island for speaking out for the underserved, end up ignoring them for his own enrichment? That’s a tough thing to swallow. How tragic to hear 35 year old Mathilde, a woman who must remember the horrors of Apartheid, posit that perhaps the country would be better off returning to it. What could she mean by that? Thankfully, I later chatted with Thulia, only ten years younger, who sees nothing but a positive, co-operative government in her future. My hope is with the young!


Kathleen said...

That waterwall is amazing, I can only imagine how breathtaking it must be in person!

Kathleen said...

And I love hearing about your conversations with the four women, what a wonderful insight into the people and country they must have given you