Typical South African sights you will never see in Ireland.

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Lion skin and apricot jam

In two weeks we will have been living in Ireland for thirteen years and in this time we have returned to South Africa every two years or less to visit family so that we can maintain the relationships between our children and their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  Apart from that we love the country and look forward to our trips with great excitement. I think my husband starts his countdowns about 9 months before we go.

Yesterday we returned from a three week journey that began in Cape Town, followed the Garden Route to George and then on up to Kimberley in the centre of the country and then back again all along the same route. On our trip it was hard not to compare how different South Africa is to Ireland. Some of the differences are fantastic and others are not so good. Each time we go back I appreciate more and more the good things that both country has to offer and mindful of the downsides of living in either. I recognise that neither county is perfect but both have so much beauty and charm.

We are well settled now in Ireland, our last three children were born here and we have a lovely network of friends, but I do miss so much from our previous home country.  I miss the huge diversity of cultures, language and food, the seemingly endless sunshine, the wide skies where the mountains form a circle around the horizon 100km away, vivid blooms of purples, pinks and reds, the smell of baked earth and the sweet aroma of fynbos, the varied bird calls and the high pitched cheep of the cicada beetle in the heat of the day.

I admire the entrepreneurial spirit of the hard pressed folk, the positive attitudes of those who are most down trodden, the creativity and energy that has created such a vibrant society in the midst of the challenges of dire poverty, violent crime, dwindling education standards, overwhelming unemployment and corrupt governance.

I could list so much more that was remarkable and eventful. There is literally nothing like international travel for broadening horizons, especially for kids. Mine were struck by how different life is for many of the children in South Africa and how much we have to be grateful for. They also loved bonding with their cousins, exploring new sights, spotting wildlife and trying new foods. It is good to be home but it is going to be difficult having to wait another two years before we can go again.

Here follows just some of the sights from this most recent trip that you would not see here in Ireland:

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Restaurants can reliably serve customers outside under the trees in late Autumn
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Men playing boule on the beach in bush hats
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Shopping trolleys used to transport goods
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Hitch-hikers waiting on the onramp of the motorway before the No Hitch-hiking sign.
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Acres of mega shopping malls with air conditioning, free parking, state of the art toilet facilities and security guards.
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Car washing services while you shop
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Car guards watching your car, also while you shop.
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Signs outside a mall showing you where you ARE allowed to smoke
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Shops exclusively selling dried raw beef and antelope as a snack
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Wide horizons and endless vistas of desert scrub
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VERY straight roads that disappear over the horizon
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Kids busking on marimbas to earn a crust
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Thorn trees and plains of dried grass (I really miss thorn trees!)
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Using the open back of a bakkie for game viewing (or going anywhere)
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Weaver birds nests
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Picnic areas under gum trees
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Warehouse style shops selling mountains of fruit and veg
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Vast distances between towns with NOTHING in between
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Coolest roadside shops with parking areas made up of cacti and dust.
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Kiddies climbing frames decorated with antelope skulls
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Shops selling animal skins, jams, meat and wood for your fire
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River beds with no water in them
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Dry river beds wider than the road
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We must have passed more than thirty dry river beds
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Empty waterfalls
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Giraffes that like to be stroked and hugged
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Men travelling with ostriches
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Fields that are red
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Getting up close and personal with the wildlife
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Houses that are built out of corrugated iron with satellite dishes…
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…in vast townships that stretch beneath miles and miles of spiderweb electrical wires.
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Kids using the unused land next to the highway as a soccer pitch

I have so many more pictures of this crazy, beautiful country but really, it would be better if you went there to see it for yourself.

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10 Comments Add yours

  1. Liz says:

    Wow, awesome pics! I have always wanted to go to South Africa. Perhaps someday.

    “VERY straight roads that disappear over the horizon.” — Hmm, I-80 running through Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska. Straight, boring, and nothing but corn as far as the eye can see! Nice to see other parts of the world are like that, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think South Africa would have a lot more in common with the States than European countries purely because of it’s size and diversity in one country. I hope you do make it there – such incredible beauty.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. tsepotheview says:

    South Africa is so addictive once been there you can’t help it but to return. What makes south Africa so unique it is townships(ekasi) and its so caring people not to mention the unique culture including 11 official languages.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comments, yes I love the people the most, I love making friends across so many different cultures. I know there are problems with the country but most people are so positive.

      Like

  3. Fabulous [ics, made me so homesick, though we have come back to Europe now. Loved the satellite dish in the informal settlement! Some of those places are amazing inside, complere with furniture from Saville’s!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I feel everytime we go back I miss and appreciate it more. The satellite dishes killed me, and I love how they are often wallpapered beautifully with product wrappers.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The free flyers we threw away they find a use for.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. One man’s trash…a lesson in gratitude for us who throw away!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Which leaves me out of sync with the ‘civilized’ forst world materialism.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Nice to meet you, I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog. The South Coast is lovely, I’m sure you miss it!

    Like

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