Africa! Wow! It has been such an incredible 5 weeks. I've learnt a lot, met some incredible people and fallen in love with the continent. 5 weeks sounds like nothing but so much has happened, it feels like a lifetime already (in the good way).
I thought when I started this, that it would be lonely or it would be dangerous or I wouldn't really know what I was doing. But it turns out pretty much everyone backpacking out here feels the same. I wrote before about just jumping in and trying things and I really feel like I've done that. Perhaps a little too much if you saw my bank account!! I've had adventure after adventure and met the most supportive and incredible people. A couple of weeks ago, a conversation on a bus lead to a group of 5 of us jumping off the world's highest bridge bungee!! I was terrified, but these complete strangers supported me, told me I could do it, made me feel so much better. They were there afterwards with hugs and congratulations and there's a strong possibility I will never see these people again. I spoke of the beauty of people and the kindness not long ago and everyday, in some small way I am reminded again and again. It's a lovely thing in light of the events of the world. Random acts of kindness can be the difference between a good day and a bad day. As a child I loved pay it forward, a film that still makes me cry. It's about a boy that sets up a scheme for everyone who recieves an act of kindness to pay it forward to 3 more people. Lady Gaga appears to be doing something similar. I've been trying to ‘pay it forward’ of you will, but without giving away money. I'm going to keep trying as well as I feel so fortunate that I really want to be able to give something back too.
Whilst in cape town I went to the district 6 museum and robben island, and I'm currently reading Robert Sobukwe and Nelson Mandela's books. The apartheid, whilst horrific, is a part of this country's history. They don't try to hide it or forget it happened, they remember so that it doesn't happen again. And yet I can't help feeling that it is happening again. I won't get too political because I'm sure our feelings are all very similar on this, however I will say that I'm not angry, I'm sad. Sad that as humans we never learn and we are stuck making the same mistakes over and over. To me there is no difference between what is happening now and what happened at the very beginning of every great wrong, except that we know it's happening and we should be doing something!
It's hard being so far away and so removed from the news, I try to keep up to date but I'm usually a week or so behind at best. It also means that I'm not drip fed information I get a weeks worth at once! I have to actually stop myself screaming at my iPad! It seems to me like there are a lot of parallels to be drawn here, not just to the apartheid, that required people to register their ethnicities via the pass law, but also to the Holocaust that started by registering the Jewish people. I honestly don't see how this can be happening in this day and age. As my dad said ‘it's not funny any more, this is actually happening’ .
I said I didn't want to get too political and I won't, I'm knew to blogging still and I think I'm still finding my way in how much of an opinion I can have. As a teacher I tried to have no opinion at all in most scenarios so as not to influence the students. Now I don't know what I'm worried about, but I still feel like I'm holding back, for which I can only apologise and say hopefully I will be able to not censor myself. Meeting backpackers all the time it's hard to be able to have a political debate, so perhaps I just needed to vent my opinion. Americans can hardly talk about it and a surprising amount of people aren't up to date on the world news, or simply don't care because it's not their country. So, topics of conversation have stayed securely on the same 3 questions:
So next up is south East Asia, where I shall be meeting a friend, celebrating my birthday and in 3 months seeing my parents again. Although I do have over 24 hours of flying and traveling first to get there.
And to any of you considering visiting south Africa, do it! It is the most beautiful place I have ever seen, from the landscapes to the people, to the incredibly rich culture. There is so much to do and so much to see, you will not regret it!