Wednesday, May 09, 2007

South African footprints

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I realise I haven't been very communicative about my South African experience, and it's nearly three months since we returned home... So far there are 16 entry-labels concerning ZA, but somehow they've only touched the surface, in ways.
Perhaps the easiest way to get things started is to start from the beginning, but I've done that in First impression... So, let's take it from when we arrived at the airport in Port Elizabeth, picked up our rental car and headed a bit further east, towards the Sunshine Coast and the sleepy little town of Kenton-on-Sea.
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Even if we were struck by the heat when we landed in Johannesburg it took a while before it sunk in, the fact that we had travel so far - it took about 20 hours to get from Stockholm to Port Elisabeth with all the intermediate landing. The longest flight being those horrible 11-12 hours from London to Joburg.

I hated almost every minute, awful flight, so little room to move and it took days before the swelling of the limbs had subsided... - and had landed in a tropical climate. That we had actually crossed the whole huge continent of Africa to end up in this small town on the other side of the world.
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In Kenton we stayed at a B&B, where we were greeted by the friendliest little dachshund called Frankie (named after the movie "Frankie & Johnny"). We had a few relaxing days there, realising one really shouldn't stay too long in the merciless African sun no matter how much sun blocker one used... Driving around a bit in the neighbourhood, stumbling over one of the tastiest cheesecakes I've ever ate,
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getting a facial and a manicure at a local, tiny beauty salon. Wasn't completely satisfied with the nail-polishing part but the price was really just peanuts compared to what the same treatment would be in Sweden so I thoroughly enjoyed it anyway!
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Having breakfast with the view above made me feel really spoiled! And dinner with the view I wrote about here... well, that was a moment to treasure from Kenton.

What I didn't treasure, or what really struck me as rather...*displeasing* was the way almost every home, every house, every property was fenced in and protected by armed response. And a certain feeling that everyone with the "right" colour of skin was concidered safe and harmless, and the ones who didn't was conceived as being, if not an obvious threat, but at least suspicious...
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And yes, I've said it before and I say it again, it might be rather presumptuous by me, a tourist there for some weeks, not living and having lived my everyday life there - to draw conclusions like this. But well, to me it was all so very obvious in a not very discreet way, the undertows...

And I can't help but wonder how things can move forward, when a majority of the population is somewhat - if my gut-feeling and impressions aren't totally out of sync with the real world that is - considered to be worth less, less meaningful, something to be scared of, and having the status of a servant. More or less.

I felt it wasn't quite as bluntly manifested, these parallel worlds, in Cape Town. And I had quite an interesting discussions about it with one of the owners of the guesthouse we stayed at there, more of that later.

Since one of my "weaknesses" is to analyze many things, most things, too many things, back and forth, pros and cons (partly inherited, partly occupational hazard, partly evolution) I'm also very well aware of the fact that in parts this way of life might work quite well. In parts. For some. In the short run perhaps, but I also believe, in my heart, that for most it's in the long run quite a sad mismanagement of natural resources. Both in a figuratively as well as a literally way.
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And isn't it every humans, or at least it should be, wish, if not an obligation, to leave behind a good footprint, a footprint in the sand that generations to come, living creatures to come, can benefit and learn from? Or is it just me being a complete naive and clueless? The later, I sincerely hope not.

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