South Africa is a country of complexity and beauty, tension and freedom. It’s large enough to justify a year long visit on its own while accessible enough to explore well in a few weeks’ time.
We struck a compromise: two and a half months inside the borders split three ways between slow-paced visits, temporary rootedness, and zippy road trips around the country’s Cape.
What could two travelers from Oregon learn about South Africa, and what could we share with the world? In our upcoming posts, we do our best to dispel a few myths, reveal a few secrets, and share our real-life glimpse into this far (from Oregon!) corner of the planet.
1. a traveling around from place to place.
2. a long journey including the visiting of a number of places in sequence, especially with an organized group led by a guide.
3. a brief trip through a place, as a building or a site, in order to view or inspect it: The visiting prime minister was given a tour of the chemical plant.
4. a journey from town to town to fulfill engagements, as by a theatrical company or an entertainer: to go on tour; a European concert tour.
5. a period of duty at one place or in one job.
VERB (used without object)
6. to travel from place to place.
7. to travel from town to town fulfilling engagements.
VERB (used with object)
8. to travel through (a place).
9. to send or take (a theatrical company, its production, etc.) from town to town.
10. to guide (someone) on a tour: He toured us through the chateaus of the Loire Valley.
1250–1300; Middle English (noun) < Middle French < Latin tornus < Greek tórnos tool for making a circle. See turn.
2. trip, expedition. 6, 8. visit.
1. a piece of land jutting into the sea or some other large body of water.
2. the Cape.
a. Northeastern U.S. Cape Cod.
b. Cape of Good Hope.
5. ( initial capital letter ) pertaining to the Cape of Good Hope or to South Africa: a Cape diamond.
1350–1400; Middle English cap < Middle French < Old Provençal < Vulgar Latin *capum for Latin caput head
1. point, promontory, headland, spit.
We had many reasons for visiting, and we have many more, now, for sharing our experiences. We visited Table View, the Cape Winelands Region, Garden Route cities of Mossel Bay, George, Wilderness, Sedgefield, and Plettenberg Bay, crossed the border between the Western and Eastern Cape to visit surf-capital Jeffreys Bay, returned for a second visit to Ted’s favorite city, Hermanus, then concluded our South African adventure with a bookend week in Cape Town…
We took (at last count) 4,007 photos. (I have another memory card yet to sync.)
We drove 1960+ kilometers, tested out the public and private bus systems, made friends with taxi drivers, and even paddled a canoe…
We saw wildlife. Though not the way you might think.
We (okay *I*) fell in love with Cape Dutch architecture.
And we made friends we’ll keep for life.
A few South Africans laughed while telling us of comments they’ve received from people overseas: “They think that lions roam the streets!” One friend’s friend perpetuated the idea by sending pictures of ferocious animals taken “from his living room window.” He failed to mention that he lived next-door to the Johannesberg Zoo.
If I could have you join and read and view photos and hear about local enterprises, I would want you to remember:
“Africa” is a grand word; assuming that Africa means one thing or another is dangerous ground. The diversity and complexity is astounding. (So much so that I honestly find it hard to write about for concern that I misrepresent the truth.)
The same may be said for “America.” Like it or not, the world’s first instinct is to judge quickly based on association. Oregon is in America. It must be American. Well, true, it is, but it’s also uniquely its own. America is two vast continents, and situated squarely in the middle of the Northern one is a country formed from a collection of states, each one different from the next.
South Africa is a single country, spanning the tip of the continent, with a neighboring collection of “Southern African” countries across its borders; each is African, each unique.
Culture and nature stamp Oregon with its own vibe. The politics, the people, the places, the passions: they’re each colored with the unique northwest palette of indigenous populations, pioneering ancestors, and independent spirits. “America” isn’t entirely McDonalds and soybeans and politics and drive-in motels. If someone was sharing about Oregon in America, I’d want them to do my back yard justice…
So I respectfully submit an array of South African experiences. They run the gamut. Like home, there is poverty in this country; there is generosity, too. There is luxury. There is bare nature. There are places for visitors to indulge and places for visitors to connect. There is invitation to mourn alongside a culture still rising from despicably low decades of Apartheid and invitation to celebrate alongside “a rainbow nation” rich with language, song, dance, craft, and tradition.
I want to introduce you to these places and more. To perhaps give you a broader picture than the “Africa” that pops to mind.
So, come along for the ride. Learn alongside us. Enjoy the adventure of a lifetime and see South Africa through our eyes…
Whether you’re dreaming and filing away travel notes for a someday visit, interested in learning about a new corner of the world, or simply curious about how two Oregonians spent their time, I hope you’ll enjoy reading along.
And I hope a few of the stories surprise you!
This post is sponsored by Dealchecker: an online travel comparison tool featuring UK flights, international car-hires, boutique hotels and more. Stay tuned for our twoOregonians Tour the Cape series featuring quintessential and offbeat South African experiences, one-of-a-kind accommodations and beautiful B&Bs, respectful wildlife programs, social service projects, and landscape photography from the South African Cape. As always, all opinions, photos, and stories are our own; many thanks to our kind hosts and partners along the way. It was our pleasure to experience such genuine kindness and hospitality!