Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Sunrise safari and one long, last look

So here it is, our final few hours in rural South Africa, and by every measure this trip has been absolutely brilliant. Whether it takes a few years or a few decades to return here, the memories will most certainly sustain us while we try to process all that we've seen and learned, to unravel the different points of view, to keep the politics straight, to make sense of the contradictions and to recount the sheer volume of experiences we’ve had.

Along the way I’ve been reading Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, which has helped make sense of it all, and to see all this through his eyes and understand things from the perspective of the most widely admired politician of our time has made the land and the people here come alive.

The best part, though, has been the family togetherness and the confidence our girls have gained with every step. We might not know for years how South Africa affects how they see the world but already it has affected their play. Now when they’re playing “vets”, for example, one of their teddies has AIDS - and he needs a whole lot of TLC.

One thing I know for sure now is that families like ours can indeed travel safely and happily in South Africa and have an amazing time, as long as they find the right balance – because there’s no point coming here if you’re going to be paranoid about crime but on the other hand, if you’re not going to take a few basic precautions, you’ll almost certainly be robbed blind or much, much worse.

There’s never been another family trip like it, and although Malaysia can’t help but be a bit anti-climactic, I still say bring it on!

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