This week is the final blog from my 2013 trip to South Africa wrapping up my trilogy of posts. While the first two touch more generally on what it was like to travel there, for this post I’d like to share a few specific stories.
The first anecdote captures that wonderful energy of jumping into such a welcoming culture. It begins with 37 hours of traveling by bus, plane, plane, plane & bus again. Trust me when I say that despite spending most of that time sitting, watching movies, chatting or trying to nap that travel such as this does not leave you well rested. So it was with great surprise that when our first day in-country brought us to a local church in the township of White River and we were invited to dance along we found ourselves moving. And I mean really moving. The joy of the people there was just so contagious. They had so little but the strength they found in community was inspiring. The took turns dancing on stage, leading everyone in the crowd who followed along with such energy. Then they’d have a one on one dance offs among themselves and then get right back to it leading us all. I had not danced that hard in quite some time.
The second story is about our own little private beach that we found in Durban. We’d been offered a place to stay by a friend made on one of our previous trips. We had no idea where we were going to be staying but told it would be nice, which when you are traveling through Africa and a friend offers to put you up for free can mean almost anything. When we got to the house we discovered it was actually a holiday home our friend’s business sponsored that was used as a getaway for orphanages and other disadvantaged children (and luckily there was a gap in the schedule while we were in town – wouldn’t have wanted to be the guy taking it from disadvantaged kids). It was situated on a cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean – beautiful. But better still, it had a little path winding down to the beach far below and when we got there the place was deserted. We were able to swim in the sea, collect driftwood, build a fire and sing some songs with the crashing waves as our chorus.
Finally I will share about one of the fun little adventures we got into. We were up in the mountains and decided to visit a far off school that we heard didn’t get many visitors. We soon found out why. After driving for hours up into the mountains we found that the roads were getting thinner, less paved and far rockier. And then they stopped. After crossing a number of rivers we hit one were we got there before the bridge builders had. So it was time to get out of the cars and roll up the trousers. We forded the river as best we could and although it wasn’t too deep it was pretty fast flowing but with only a few soakings we made it across. We hiked some more, climbed up the last slopes and found the school. We got to see a presentation by them as the sung a song or two, we got to show them one of ours and deliver some important supplies, then after a quick lunch were back on the road again.
I can’t share all the fun little stories, the really small things that bond you together when you travel, but I hope a few of these insights inspire you to head out on the road with a team of people you like and a camera. There is so much to see, do and experience out there.