The Rainbow Nation

For a number of years Elise and I have discussed escaping the grey dreariness of late winter to warmer climes and have been debating on and off what our destination should be. After weighing several possibilities we finally departed not too long ago for South Africa and were delighted with the choice.

Naturally we wanted to go someplace south of the equator to be able to enjoy a respite of summer in the worst depths of German winter. We were looking for something tropical and exotic, but the absolute minimum requirements were warm and new. Since I had been to South Africa a couple of times for work (in Durban during the build up to the World Cup and shortly thereafter), it stood foremost in the list of candidates, as we had not been there together to actually visit.

I have many times expressed my opinion that traveling anywhere on business is akin to traveling to Las Vegas for dental work. The task itself is painful enough and the backdrop only adds to one’s sense of malaise and loathing. However even given the limited experience I had in Durban, I found the subtropical climate to be fantastic, the people ridiculously warm and friendly, and the whole experience new, exciting, and fun.

Despite the good first impression I wasn’t immediately won over by the idea of South Africa as our vacation destination however. Though I love traveling, at times I do have a hard time coming around to destination ideas that are a bit further outside of my comfort zone. That was compounded by another memory from my time in Durban: encountering the most barbed wire that I had ever seen in an urban setting. With some shame I must admit that South Africa being rather unfamiliar to me combined with the perceived security concerns made me hesitant.

Thankfully Elise was persistent in her investigations of South Africa and after speaking with friends who had already vacationed there and had nothing but wonderful stories and beautiful pictures to share, I was convinced. And I am very thankful for the trip was fantastic.

We flew into Cape Town and visited vineyards around Stellenbosch, spent time on the coast in Hermanus, visited two wild game reserves, visited an ostrich farm, saw one of the finest cave systems in Africa, hung out with penguins on the coast, and ended the trip back in Cape Town with a visit to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for eighteen years of his 27-year incarceration and were also able to watch the sunset from Table Mountain.

Adding to the sights was the ever-impressive South African hospitality, fantastic food, and stand-out wines.

And of course no trip to Africa would be complete without seeing the native game which can be found nowhere else on earth. We were excited to see four of the African big five and so many other exotic game and wildlife.  Given how many different animals we saw, we nearly lost track of them all. Therefore I have summarized the animals encountered alphabetically by what we saw and/or ate.

AnimalSeenEatenBig FiveComments
African Buffalox x 
African Penguinx   
Blesbokxx Tasty
Black Wildebeestx   
Blue Cranex   
Cheetahx  Looked nothing at all like Chester.
Egyptian Goosex  Noisy as fuck at five in the morning
Elephantx x 
Greater Striped Swallowx   
Helmeted Guineafowlx   
Leopard Tortoisex   
Lionx x 
Meerkatx  Adorable
Ostrichxx Also tasty
Kuduxx Tasty but not as tender
Red Bishopx   
Rock Hyraxx   
White Rhinocerosx x 
Yellow Mongoosex   

We had a fantastic time and as always I am grateful for Elise not only encouraging the idea to visit South Africa but also for not divorcing me due to my episodes of blind rage when driving on the wrong side of the road. We can’t wait to return. And next time with a hired driver

We enter into a covenant that we shall build the society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.

Nelson Mandela, Inauguration Address, 10 May 1994

One Comment

  1. Again Chris an expressive and delightful commentary off you and Elise’s escapades.

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