Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Arrival in South Africa

It’s a funny name for a country, isn’t it? Like calling Britain ‘West Europe’, or Antarctica ‘South Earth’. South Africa is brazenly good looking, with mountain ranges almost as big as the sky, acacia trees posing like French waiters holding trays aloft, as well as offering all the comforts and conveniences of home. She dares you not to fall in love with her and you’d be worried about leaving your other half alone with her.

I had a certain amount of trepidation about coming here. History has seemed very recent throughout Africa, but nowhere more so than South Africa where the bitter taste of segregation is still fading. However, having found it very difficult so far to pay much attention to Lonely Planet’s rather bossy tone of voice, the section on South Africa’s history arrested me with its frank account of apartheid and optimistic attitude towards the future. But you have to deal with the fear first.

Everyone will tell you three things about South Africa:
1. It’s stunning, absolutely drop dead gorgeous
2. Go to Cape Town
We’ve heard about robbings, carjackings, kidnappings lasting as long as it took to get two days worth of ATM withdrawals. We’ve seen the high security fences, armed response posters and barbed wire. We’ve taken lots of taxis. And sometimes it is like Hackney, but I can’t help noticing that quite a few businesses make quite a nice earning out of the fear. Anyway, my parents forgot to have spare kids so we won’t be taking silly chances, and being careful is always good advice.

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