At the beginning, it was a wild dream. South Africa revealed to me at first through the accounts of travellers or adventure novels I would read late into the night. It seemed a mystic land, a place like no other and, at that time for me, completely out of reach. I was not yet a traveller. But the day I knew I could become one, I booked a ticket to South Africa.
Maybe I was opening my eyes for the first time to such vastness. Maybe I was seeing so many colours in one place for the first time too. It was all overwhelmingly new. But at the end of the day, the possibility of travel and the self-discovery experience aside, it was South Africa that brought a change in me. It was this country that made my mind alert with curiosity, that transformed my vision and understanding of the word, that made me rich with awareness of earthly beauties I had previously no knowledge of.
I stepped in shyly into South Africa but I started to take on the world boldly right after. This land of contrast which provocatively hosts richness and absolute poverty at a close distance, which takes you to the peaks of majestic mountains from the mild waters of the Indian Ocean in one day, where I saw wild animals running free, this place has broadened my scope like nothing before.
Some aspects hurt, but with the pain came realization and maturity. Never before had I seen shanty towns stretching for a longer distance than it should be humanly conceivable. Never before had I seen women carrying heavy loads on their heads and shoulders with such natural balance and grace. Never before had I seen barefooted orphans smiling so endearingly, knowing and having pretty much nothing. I learned “nothing” had a real meaning. South Africa made me cry and made me grow strong. It not only showed me beauty, but also the fragility of things. It made me understand how people suffer in other countries and how they deal with it. It shook all my senses and asked me to ponder on how spoilt for choice we are in the western world and how little we give and invest in things that truly matter. How much we take everything for granted. South Africa was a great, tough but honest teacher and the human experiences are as hard to wipe from my soul as words written with indelible marker.
Seeing animals in the wild is one of the most extraordinary experiences I have ever had access to. And by seeing I mean observing, not touching, not interfering. Being absorbed into their overwhelming presence is privilege enough. The smell of the wilderness is purely exhilarating and one of the greatest senses of adventure and freedoms one can have access to in this life. Waking up to the view of a giraffe or the sight of a baby elephant –these are special, unique moments that can never be forgotten. South Africa gathered all these wonderful creatures for me and gently showed me how fragile they were, how much protection and care they needed and made me appreciate every millisecond I spent in their company.
South Africa is difficult to pin down in only few words. I have travelled there three times and discovered a wealth of different treasures every single time. This country made me into a story teller and a blogger because I came back with the firm conviction that people were missing out if they didn’t travel there. I must have fallen in love with all its offerings and struggles and I wanted to share them and keep them alive for my at the same time. Because I am convinced I have found one of the best pieces of land there is for a traveller to explore.
Maybe it’s just me but I have heard the very distinctive voice of South Africa. Possibly all 11 of them calling at me all at once, blended together, different yet similar, past and present. Maybe I have been lured by its potential and it made me sing. It could have been the wine, the waves of the Ocean glimmering in the sunset, Lion’s Head, who knows? The fact is, this country has a uniqueness that is a source of bottomless inspiration. Some call it Paradise. I call it South Africa – a place to discover over and over again.