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:
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.