Posted on arrival at Johannesburg,RSA
Ted and Kathy’s Magical Mystery Tour is going dark for the next few weeks. We are enroute to South Africa and Zimbabwe. As of now we are just finishing our journey of nearly 10,000 miles in a 24 hour period. The hop from Denver to Dulles seemed like a ride around the block. The trek from the US to Africa seemed never ending. As usual my thoughts wander on a number of different levels. The last time we were this far from home was our adventure in Australia and New Zealand. Feels familiar but strangely different at the same time.
Traveling, you feel a sense of detachment as to what you are leaving behind and at the same time excitement and uncertainty about what lies ahead.CNN was on in the United Club at Dulles and I can’t say I will be longing for Bernie or the Donald any time soon. We speak of inequality here in the US and indeed there is such an affliction. But I still have to think about how much we have on both ends of the economic scale. Redistribution of wealth is not an acceptable doctrine but neither is poverty and survival of the fittest. 25% of South Africa lives on $1.25 per day. We ain’t doing bad!
South Africa is home to around 52 million people and therein lies the enigma. My vision of the metropolises of Johannesburg and Cape Town is crowded out by the vast reaches of savannah and jungle that I know are out there. A glass of red and a cigar at some lodge or outpost just won’t feel like my old front porch. I don’t think Starbucks has made it to Lesotho or Kruger. And that is a good thing.
Our flight plan took us over the Atlantic with a fuel stop in Ghana. Ironically the voyage took place overnight and the occasional light or loom of a city did not betray the borders that we all fight so much about. We passed over Senegal,Ivory Coast ,Birkana Faso and Namibia to name a few. At that hour everything and everyone looked the same. Kind of cool. China wants to extend its boundaries a gazillion miles into the South China Sea. Putin looks for footholds. The Dutch and English both had their turns at setting up colonies and finally giving up when it was no longer in their best interests. Is it just me or is the world just some huge chess board? The game has been going on for centuries with a lot of people being used during that time as mere pawns.
This will be a totally different brand of travel from our shipboard experiences. On the good ship Lollipop you pulled in someplace at 8:00AM and threw the lines off for departure at 6:00PM. Don’t be late or you are stuck. Hit the high spots and come back another day for more in depth study. For covering a lot of ground in a few days it can’t be beat.We will be on a so called land tour. We hop on a plane a few times in country but the majority is covered by some sort of coach. There are 16 other fellow travelers and just getting to know people from different parts of the country or world will be an interesting diversion.
It almost makes you want to be a backpacker or hitch hiker. Trying as best as one can to experience the real people beyond the souvenir stalls and glitzy restaurants. Not sure how well this would work in the “townships”. Probably a better move in New Zealand. There is a huge unemployment problem in SA and elsewhere. People have moved from the hinterlands to the city in search of a better life. From Zimbabwe,Botswana and Namibia to green pastures so to speak. Sound familiar? Housing and sanitation are a best a long shot. There are shacks of corrugated metal a stone’s throw from the downtown business and shopping sections. There is a large problem with crime because in the most simplistic terms it is the only way some of these people can survive. All within miles of a metro area of 6 million people.
Of course you say, “Why are you going there?” Victoria Falls beckons. Larger, more majestic and less commercial than Niagara is good for starters. In Kruger the “Big Five” (rhino, elephant, lion, leopard and cape buffalo) are there for the watching. Probably won’t run into the dentist from Minnesota. Many people have told me that the sight of these creatures in all their natural glory will change you. Not sure if Kathy is ready for one more change from me. Oddly neither the Far East nor India holds any special interest but this call of the wild is real. I will let you know.
I will keep it short and who knows when my poor old head will dump core again. As usual I just wanted to share some quick thoughts and anticipations. Our sense of adventure is going strong.
Ted The Great
The Dark Continent was named such because of the mysterious and unknown parts that were undiscovered and unknown especially in the late 18th century. Joseph Conrad fueled the fire.
The area around Cape Town was originally started as a way station of sorts for ships going from Europe to India. They stopped for fresh water and fruits and vegetables. Incredibly the settlement needed more than the local population to provide labor and so slaves were imported from the Indian Ocean countries to the east.
The Cape of Good Hope was just that…a wing and a prayer. The confluence of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans created a maelstrom of winds, currents and high seas bringing many sailors to an early grave.