My Travel Book - Off to South Africa

I did not expect that it would be so hard to start writing about our voyage to South Africa.

And then today I received a short message from one of our rangers in Kruger Park. From D. - “Hey! I miss you guys so much. I’ll be waiting. My house is always open.”

Which sums it all. I love South Africa and now I am ready to tell you a few stories about our voyage of discovery.

A few weeks before we left, I decided to take a couple of notebooks along. I wanted to jot down my day-to-day impressions and feelings  and… well whatever would go through my mind/my heart while traveling around.

So I did pack a couple of notebooks. And of course, they came back totally blank. Not one note. Not one single word actually.

I also packed three cameras and five lenses. And it soon became obvious my pictures would once again became my records and my memos.

Besides the fact that I would be spending most of my time with Swee’Pea who has got the best scientific memory ever, very organized and logical which ensured that my own memories would end up being less emotional once talked about before I’d commit them to writing.

So there we are. One whole month in South Africa: Two weeks in Cape Town and neighboring areas. Three days in Johannesburg. One whole week in Kruger National Park. One last week in Cape Town and (a very small portion of) the eastern part of the Western Cape Province.

Which means that I did not travel through South Africa but that I spent a lot of time essentially in the Western Cape Province i.e. roughly one tenth of South Africa. And basically in the smallest part of the province, the Cape area with a short foray into the eastern coast of the province.

So let’s make it clear. When I say: “I love South Africa”, put this enthusiastic statement down on the fact that I am ready to go back to South Africa because I feel there is a lot more to find out about this fascinating country.

Back to my trip now.

Of course, it would be much easier to start with day one from my photographic files. I would tell you what we did exactly on that very day and what we thought and what we talked about and incidentally what and where we ate. I could chat about the weather. And our encounters day by day.

But this is not meant to be a diary nor a real log.

Why? Because this voyage was fraught with emotions so strong that sometimes they even turned into tensions, very inner tensions. I had to come to grip with South Africa. So many totally new experiences.

Well to start with, the reasons why I embarked upon this trip were very complex.

We were asked many many times: “You are French? Tourists? Do you like it here?” and Swee’Pea would answer: “Yes. A lot. Well, I have been working in Cape Town for almost two years… And well… actually I’m living in Paris right now but I wanted my mom to get to know the area before I’d leave for good and she loves it.”

Well the story behind the scenes is quite horrendous. I do not want to dwell on the details but ultimately a South African attorney, a specialist in Labour Law was called in to help Swee’Pea to get out of this unbearable situation. Very harrowing times even if his employer was compelled to offer and sign a rather “satisfying” settlement with our son who flew back home without delay. He was so much in need of rest and calm.

He left behind most of his belongings in his Cape Town apartment which lease would be running until mid-November and his car in the garage of the said apartment.

This was a problem. Now you understand why we ended up in South Africa in October - basically to settle domestic issues. Amazingly our trip turned out to be so much more pleasant and relaxed and fulfilling than we ever thought it’d be.

Ask me if and when I’d like to fly back to South Africa, I’ll answer straight out: “As soon as possible!” And I mean it. I was understandably very worried and apprehensive when we landed in Cape Town. A few days before we were scheduled to fly away, I was getting very upset because I did not want to leave.

Someone said to me in Kruger Park: “Either you fall hopelessly in love with Africa because it gets into your blood and you’ll keep coming back or you hate it and shall reject it vehemently.” Well Africa got into my blood and I’ll be coming back.

But before I go back there, I have many stories to tell. I brought back such a treasure-trove. I’d love to share it with you.

*Good Luck, and Good Night*