November 3, 2008, Category: South Africa, Travel

Day 14: South African Airlines

Note: I have posted a small selection of the nearly 4,000 pictures we took on the trip. You can see them here. If you didn’t start reading on Day 1, you might want to start from the beginning 

IMG_0706Curti and I are at 40,000 feet over the Atlantic ocean right now, just over an hour way from Washington DC. They almost canceled our flight, it was delayed an hour and for and we heard them say “we’ll know if it’s going to be canceled in five minutes.” Curti’s main concern was it would mean he’d have to do another say of Saturday school. I didn’t want to be stuck in an airport all night and then get rerouted. Luckily they got the go ahead and we boarded. I just hope the delay doesn’t make us miss our DC connection. We have a two hour layover but have to get our luggage, go through customs, and recheck our luggage. Argh.

We were treated to flashing light and chest rattling thunder for our last night, a major lightning storm. In fact, one must have struck close because I the crack almost sounded like a tree shattering and flash hit at the exact instant. (It also knocked the power out.) I love thunder and lightning…something we don’t get a whole lot of in the northwest.

For our last day, we went to the African Market at Rosebank Mall and spent way more money than I intended…mainly buying presents for everyone. I can’t even remember everything we bought…I’m actually looking forward to getting home and finding out what is in my carry-on. They weren’t as pushy here at this market, which is really good. When we bought the stuff out by Mac Mac falls they really played on our emotions. It’s hard to know how sincere they are being and how much of it is an act. They were basically begging for us to buy their goods, telling us they don’t have food and need our business. And the line the lady gave me about “now she can buy milk for the baby,” …I just don’t know what to think. I know they are dirt poor and desperate. I just don’t like how they leverage my emotions, and I’m a succor for it. Even while we were there Curti said, “Dad, you are too nice, you just have to tell them ‘no.’ He’s right, it was really hard for me. I can’t blame them for being desperate nor myself for feeling torn as to how to help them. At least this market was relaxed, prices were a bit higher…but not much. And most of them didn’t resort to begging for our business.

It’s interesting that nobody in the really poor area, the squatter camp, we visited begged us for anything. They have about as little as you can possibly have without having absolutely nothing and didn’t asked for anything…except for one very drunk man, and the gal giving us the tour told us to ignore him and hurried us past. Even she didn’t ask for anything…and she spent a good hour with us, showed us her home, school, and community. When she finished, she said “thank-you for visiting us here, please tell people about us, maybe somebody can help change it.” I had to stop her as she left because I wanted to pay something her for taking us around.

We then went to Yannie’s for the braai and had a wonderful time visiting with our friends we met on the Sweni trail. We met their kids, they fed us an excellent South African meal, we visited, and Curti played with their young kids. They commented several times on how wonderful Curtis was and especially how well he got along with their children. I told them Curtis has been great with kids and, in fact, often complained that people only asked his sisters to babysit for them. He’d taken the babysitting class and was all geared up to earn some money tending kids as his older sister had but everyone assumes only girls want to tend…or that boys can’t tend. They said it’s really too bad we lived so far away because they need babysitting often and would love to have him tend for them.

I’m really thankful Curtis had a chance to get to know some people while we were here. He can understand now how I love South Africa for so many different reasons, one being the kind and genuine people that I have found here. The sad part in making friends with people like them is that we live so far away (like Herby Krause, Shawn Madden, the Petzers, Harry Gorman, the Morgan family, and a few others that I met in years past….time passes much too quickly, I lose contact, and then I can’t find them.

It was a great trip, we had so many amazing experiences. It seems like we were able to experience a little of everything, see all the animals we wanted, and met some really neat people. It’s sad that it’s over, after nearly a year of planning and years of thinking about it…it’s over. It leaves me with a slight sense of loss but at the same time, there are so many memories that instantly warm my heart that I think I’m even going to have a smile on my face for a long time. Thanks to Sandi for supporting this choice, thanks to my girls for encouraging us, thanks to Curti for going with me and being an ideal photo partner, and thanks to the wonderful South Africans who made this trip an incredible experience. I’ll get some of our high quality pictures posted in the very near future…and maybe even some video!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider clicking your favorite social media platform and sharing. Click, approve, and you're done. Easy as pie :)

Leave your email address to receive an update when I post something new. Your address will be only used to send updates on this website.

6 thoughts on “Day 14: South African Airlines

  • By Corne - Reply

    Thank you for sharing your experience in South Africa. I am heading back for a holiday with my parents who still live there. It will be the first in 8 Years I did not want to go back ever, it is testaments like yours that makes me now want to go back. I grew up in the apartheid era and I hated it, your blog is testament that there is always HOPE. Thank you again

  • By Waldo - Reply

    Seems like you had a great time in SA. I’m glad you liked it. However I must say, from your blog it seemed like you did the typical “Foreign visitor” tour of the country. That is – you mainly visited the national parks for the wildlife, and then all the historical apartheid era things such as the apartheid museum, Soweto etc.

    In my opinion this is extremely biased, and one cannot form an opinion on a country just by talking to the one side. Apartheid seemed evil (and yes in most cases it was), but there is much more to tell about the story. And that you will not get from the tour you were on. You need to understand both sides of the story to gain a better understanding behind why things happened, and why things are the way they are now.

  • By Warren - Reply

    Very true Waldo, and I appreciate your comments. It is very difficult to make a complete connection with a people and culture in a short two weeks. I would like to point out that back in the 80’s I lived in South Africa for a over a year and spent most of my time with Afrikaners (ek het Afrikaans geleer). I spent my days visiting with thousands of different people in Welkom, Rustenburg, Nelspruit, and Kempton Park.

    I met people ranging from horribly racist (one man didn’t even consider women to be human telling me ‘read the bible, it says God made the human and then made a helper for the human’) to others who cared deeply for all South Africans regardless of color or gender.

    I found South Africa to be a beautiful country not only because of the land…but also the wonderful people I met. It is also why the Sweni trail was the highlight of my trip…the people I met made it an adventure I will never forget.

    Even in the 80’s I defended South Africa, saying the problems are more complex than the most of the world understands. Most people seemed to over-simplify the problems. But at the same time, it does not excuse nor diminish the atrocities that happened. We have a similar dark history here in the US with slavery and the American Indians and our battle against racism is ongoing. A few years ago I was thrown out of an African shop in Seattle because I was white ‘get out, the white man’s store is down the street.’ There still is a lot of anger and bitterness…but we are slowly making progress.

    So although I appreciate your comment, I think my point of view is more educated and ground in experience than you may have realized. Sure, this trip was a vacation for my son and we did a lot of the tourist type activities…which I highly recommend to any visitor. We visited a squatter camp in Soweto (something very few South Africans have even done). And I’ll defend the apartheid museum 100%: although dark and disturbing, is part of the history…like it or not. Yes, things happened for a reason (same could be argued for the early American history) but that doesn’t make it right and it doesn’t excuse the poor choices made by our ancestors.

    I love South Africa. It is filled with beauty and good people. But like America, it has some stains in the history books that can’t be ignored nor brushed aside. But that is part of the beauty: a country that has embraced change and is fighting for a better way. People who have been able to forgive and move on, others who have had to give up wealth to more fairly distribute resources. Over the past 20 years I’ve made 3 trips to South Africa and have seen many changes. But the one thing that hasn’t changed is that overall, most of the people I have met are kind, genuine, and want a country that treats all human beings in a fair and equal manner.

  • By Waldo - Reply

    Hmmm ok you do seem to have a much deeper understanding of what makes South Africa tick than most casual visitors. I just get frustrated when so many people visit the country and only see how badly whites treated black people, and then get biased and have some kind of quiet hatred against the evil white people who oppressed the blacks.

    I mean, most modern tours of South Africa is focused on illustrating the wrongdoings of the white man, and focuses on how black people live and make the white guy non-existent, except for their wrongdoings. Sure that is a very integral part of our country, but what many people do not get to see is the modern, first world aspects of South Africa.

    In all large corporate companies these days, when you walk in to the reception area, you will find coffee table books on the great South Africa. All of them – without exception, consists only of rural South Africa, villages and black people. But there is another part to SA… Feels like reversed racism. I just so wish we could find a balance were both are equal, not like now where the cards seem to have been reversed.

    I too love South Africa and think it is one of the greatest countries in the world, and wished we are like 50 years in the future when hopefully a generation has passed and the hatred both ways subsided. But it has not, and because of that I just wish that foreign visitors would be exposed to the parts of South Africa that drove the country to be what it is today, and get a more balanced view. But that does not seem to be you, so this comment is then for your visitors to your site 🙂

  • By Cordell Vail - Reply


    This is amazing. Simply amazing. thanks for sharing your adventure with us. WOW!!! It thought my trip back to Finland was exciting. Never had anything like this… I read most of your journal entries here but it will take me days to look at all 4000 pictures.

    You are amazing….


  • By KingLar - Reply

    Warren, I read your journal of your SA trip. Really nice to see how visitors enjoy what our country has to offer. We appreciate each and every traveller who comes to SA. Tourism is a big revenue for our economy, and welcome you guys( especially Americans& Europeans) with the big forex to come and travel here. You are the tourism ambassodors for South Africa. Thanks for that. PS: Do the Garden Route next time, and don’t forget our marvelous golf courses……

Leave a Reply