Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

A long silence in terms of posting on this blog I see! All the reasons for that will hopefully soon become apparent, but I can say that at least one of them was simply being out of the country.

Our family finally got round to getting our passports for the first time earlier this year and, after an invitation to visit from some friends in Gaborone, Botswana, decided to put them to use. Physical circumstances mean that travelling anywhere has challenges, so I was curious to see what crossing a border would add to that.

As it turned out, the extra challenges in a trip to Botswana are few indeed. The road through to the Kopfontein border post via Zeerust is easy and uneventful – well, unless you decide to rely on TomTom, in which case you’re liable to end up on 50km of dirt road! I guess I saved a toll of R69 going up, but my confidence in technology was somewhat shaken – as was my car…

The border post itself was quick and painless, with the officials about as friendly and helpful as could be expected. The similarities between those on the South African side and those on the Botswana only confirmed my belief that government officials are all cloned on a farm somewhere in the Free State and then exported all over the world. Anyway, Gaborone itself is a mere 20km from the border which means that our international trip was 94% on South African soil. It just doesn’t get easier than that for those living in Johannesburg.

Driving through to the capital after coming from Zeerust, what really struck me was how it was so very much…the same. Same vegetation, same landscape, same languages and even a very similar feel to the city. How artificial are our borders, I thought, how irrelevant to the ancient earth upon which we scurry briefly.

Anyway, impressions of our closest neighbouring capital were positive. It all looks in pretty good order, the people are friendly and, bar a few eccentricities (traffic lights only letting one out of four streams through at a time, not two) it’s pretty easy to get around. Our friends took us on a couple of tours around the city and the neighbourhood and it was fun to be able to see what their world looked like after only hearing about it.

And, it being Botswana after all, we just had to visit a game reserve nearby to see some real wild animals! At least the inhabitants of Mokolodi (less than 15km out out of the city) were obliging and we got to see plenty of giraffe, warthog, the ubiquitous impala and a few other animals. Sadly no rhino or leopard, despite my 5 year old’s insistence that he saw them before they darted off after making eye contact with him.

It struck me as slightly odd that we should dash off to the reserve to watch animals when we already have so many opportunities to do so. But there’s something about admiring creation, something about the appreciation of beauty, that never grows old. Part of what makes us alive, I guess.

Oh, and it was hot! Temperatures over 34 degrees every day, which made me very grateful for the air conditioners everywhere.

So that was our trip to Botswana. All in all, a successful little venture and now we can at least say nonchalantly “Oh yes, we did a quick international trip last weekend…”

A little out of the way

Posted: December 31, 2008 in Uncategorized
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Well, back again. The mobile thing didn’t really work – I could post text, but my mobile browsers couldn’t cope with the WordPress way of inserting pictures. Ah well, worth a try – just a deficiency of Windows Mobile?

On our trip down to Kwazulu Natal for a few days we stayed at the accommodation available at the Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve. It’s nothing fancy, but it is spacious, neat, filled with everything we needed for a comfortable self catering stay and (importantly) affordable. Total cost for the chalets works out to about R130 per person per night. It would make a really good base camp for exploring the area.

The setting is marvellous, and there is game wandering near the chalets. My family went on an early morning walk and chanced across a herd of zebra nearby – very tame, they were.

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Later, while they went on another walk, I sat overlooking the falls and soaking in the vibrant, verdant scenery all about. The Midlands are spectacular at this time. I’m not usually a huge fan of New Age music, but Enya’s “Day without rain” fitted the bill rather nicely – even if it was a little ironic, considering the weather!

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There is something about just being, surrounded by beauty that is also just…being. It’s an elusive glimpse of something deeper, an echo of His Song and something to counter the ceaseless striving we seem to fall into by default. I can’t decide if it’s the space to think that I appreciate or the thought that it’s a learning we should take to heart; either way, it feels like time well spent.

There are many places like this in the country and it’s a good way to be able to experience something a little different. Do you have any suggestions for something a little out of the way?