Reflections on South Africa

   Lucy We arrived in Africa and the sun was gleaming hot, in the shade of the tree it was nice and cool. When we were on a drive we saw lions, lazing around the savanna. The birds twittered as they hopped from tree to tree. We even saw a Lilac Breasted Roller, they are very beautiful birds with a lilac chest. They like to sit on treetops near the road, Mummy says they sit there so everyone can admire their plumage.        Alisha It was fun being in South Africa and I liked going to see all the animals. We saw lots of lions in the Kgalagadi National park, we even saw mating ones I thought that was a little funny.  When we came back to South Africa we went to a cool museum that was made in a really weird way out of layers of tiles, at least 10 layers thick. It was a curved shape, a bit like mud huts.  I loved seeing Grannie last week but cleaning the truck for Australia wasn't much fun. We bought a vacuum cleaner to try and get it perfectly clean. While daddy cleaned the outside of the truck we stayed in an apartment in Durban. It was nice to be back in a town and live in an apartment for a change, we enjoyed: sushi; using the internet; and going to the shops.        Gilly I think South Africa is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, it has everything beaches, mountains, grasslands, desert and the most amazing wildlife. We have loved spending time out in the countryside, especially in national parks. As wildlife lovers we have really taken advantage of our "Wildcard" spending as much time as possible in the parks. We had seen much of South Africa before on previous visits, so really concentrated this time on what we love most. It maybe didn't give us a truly balanced view of the country but I think it is the best bits. The parks are so well run and absolutely perfect for self driving campers. I fear that the girls will always expect an immaculately clean bath tub in every campsite from now on.  The country has come so far in the last 21 years and we heard that huge changes have taken place since apartheid days. Visiting the battle sites at Blood River/Ncome, their museums and their curator's explanations, really gave us small insight into how the country struggles with its history. It seems that in urban areas although the races mix well at work, they return to their own communities in the evening and don't socialise together. The people, especially in the countryside, have been very welcoming and friendly but the huge economic differences between the people are very noticeable. The threat of crime, or the perceived threat, also hasn't sat very comfortably with me - I have never seen so much razor wire in my life. We have not had any problems but in towns everyone is very, very conscious about security. Although the country has great people; scenery; natural resources; and fantastic food and wine - it's not somewhere I would ever want to live.        Steve I have really enjoyed South Africa. It is a fantastically beautiful country and is really easy to get around. The South Africans love been out in the bush so everything is very well set up. The food is fantastic and with the weakness of the rand everything is very cheap for overseas visitors. Reading the newspapers and talking to people it's clear the country still has its problems. However I never felt unsafe anywhere. It's true we spent most of our time in the National Parks so well away from the problems but even when I was shopping in towns or down near the port I never felt threatened. In fact quite the contrary people were friendly and helpful. Whilst thankfully apartheid is a thing of the past there still seems to be a big degree of separation with the different races not seeming to mix except perhaps at work. Whilst this is largely driven by economics it does seem somewhat strange. I hope that progress continues to be made such that there is less crime and more trust between people because then it would be a truly amazing place.      

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