Saturday, January 04, 2014

Garden Route On Our Own

Happy new year to all!
Although this is our 3rd visit to South Africa, this week marks the first time without our tour guides, Scott and Sam.  On Thursday Ross and I set out in Sam's little Mini with our destination the 'garden route' as this area is called. The garden route winds along the southern coast of Africa and yesterday we dipped our toes in the Indian Ocean for the first time! We stayed the first night in a little town called Swellendam where Sam had arranged a lovely massage for me at the fabulous Rain Spa. The terrain up until then seemed rather bleak and 'ungarden-like'.  The hills were barren, dry fields, that appeared to be cultivated but nothing was growing on them. We eventually determined that perhaps they had just recently been hayed.  This went on for over 100km as we made our way east to another little place called Wilderness. However, we could see the landscape begin to change and eventually we were in an extremely lush, green environment. This is apparently a favourite destination spot as the beaches are full and the roads are busy. So far we haven't done much but we're enjoying the relaxation.

The view of Plettenburg Bay from behind my mojito.

Leaving Cape Town, for many many miles, both sides of the road are lined with townships, the slum areas where the blacks were relocated to during apartheid.  And on the outskirts of each town we drove through were more townships.  It's hard to know what to think as you look at the endless makeshift shanty houses all heaped together - small tin or wood shacks that often house many family members. It's impossible to describe the feeling as you drive by - is it empathy, disgust, sadness, guilt, helplessness?  I guess all of these plus an overwhelming sense of gratitude for what I have been blessed with. 

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