Day 5: World, meet Ubuntu.

Remember I warned you about truly atrocious pictures?  Well, today you get to experience them for yourself!  Lucky you!  No, really, please excuse the quality – I only had my phone but I really wanted to capture the moment.WP_20150513_001

Today’s post is all about a little thing called Ubuntu.  The theory of this philosophy is taught to us all in school, but the further I get away from the school, the more I realise that I understood nothing at school – I’m only putting pieces together as I live and learn from life.  Ubuntu is one of the things I clearly didn’t understand.

The thing is, when I was away from home a lot of people asked me about the xenophobia in South Africa.  A lot of people seem fairly fixated on race.  And yes, racism is a real problem.  But I think there are far more “colour-blind” people than racist.  I grew up knowing South Africa as the Rainbow Nation – a country where different people – different colours – lived together side by side.  And their co-existence was what made everything all the better.

Ubuntu says “I am because we are”.  Ubuntu is community.  Ubuntu is coming together as one and caring for each individual.  WP_20150513_002Ubuntu is love.  Ubuntu is all-inclusive. (Well, in theory at the very least)

Today I was watching my little sister’s netball match and when they scored a goal I heard cheering erupt behind me.  As it turned out the entire u9 netball group had gathered around to watch the “big girls” play.  They sat in a long line watching – little bare legs all lined up one against the other – warmed by the sun and still full of energy.  It sounds really awkward and odd, but I really like looking at all those little legs lined up.  All the different colours…

Yes, there are plenty of race problems in South Africa.  But there is also a lot of acceptance.  We like to focus on the negative because it sells more newspapers and because we people, sick as we are, are drawn to the car crashes and the burning buildings…  But truly, if you look at South Africa, you see a group of people who are astoundingly diverse, and yet working as one to try build a stronger future.  You see people who have a harsh history, but who are trying to understand one another.

You see Ubuntu.

#25daysatourist

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Day 4: Autumn

I now have an editor.  Look at me being all fancy and stuff.  So if my blog posts are late or suddenly have no sense of humour – blame him!  hehe

DSCN4453ANYWAY.  Back to the point.

When I started this whole endeavour I went outside and took some photos of things I love here.  Most of the photos were of my dogs, but that’s just because they’re really cute and I get distracted too easily.  The plan was to save those pictures and use them if I really had nothing else to say. A little sad, but I say it’s better to be pathetic and have a contingency plan than rock for 5 days and then fall flat.DSCN4518

Turns out I need those pictures anyway, so it all worked out well.

The original photos were of some leaves and the autumn trees.  They’re your typical autumn pictures with the red leaves and the bare branches, but I think it’s really pretty, so I took them anyway.

Today I went outside and stood in the exact same place and it was like I had been transported!  Yes, the leaves had changed colour a little more.  Yes, the trees were a bit more bare.  Yes, there were far more leaves on the floor than before.  But it wasn’t any of that which caught my attention. I didn’t notice anything until I was about to walk back to the door,  but in that moment I turned as my dog ran past and kicked up some leaves – and it hit me!

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The smell!  There’s a certain scent to autumn that just smells magical!  It’s like this overwhelmingly lovely earthy, warm hug.  Like a blanket.  One that smells nice.

Now I have no way of knowing if Autumn smells this way anywhere else, so it’s not like I can promote it as this beautifully quintessential South African thing.  But I can tell you that I love South Africa in the autumn!  I love how the sun stays out but the air gets nippier.  I love that I (FINALLY) get to wear cute things like hats and boots.  I love the way the green lawn turns into a carpet of reds , yellows, oranges, browns, and golds.  And I love the smell!

#25daysatourist

 

Day 3: The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

I heard some time ago that South Africa has a unique kind of sunset that looks differentsunset 2 to almost all others – especially those in the Northern Hemisphere.  The reason ours seem so much more splendid is because ours have a magnificent red hue.  In fact, one of the most iconic images of South Africa is that of a tree (or giraffe or elephant…) silhouetted against a red sky and a bright yellow sun.  The reason for these lovely daily paintings in the sky?  Red dust.  We have an inordinately large amount of red dust and it floats about in the sky making our cars dirty and turning our sunsets red!

Now, I live in a city.  Johannesburg is hardly known for its vast landscapes and endless plains.  It’s more like cars, trucks, looming office buildings, and lots of pollution.  But because of the number of cars, trucks, taxis, buses… (the list goes on) we get to set in traffic for a really long time.  Especially if we travel on a highway or at peak times.

sunset 1I say “get to”… A lot of people hate traffic with a ferocity that causes cold shivers even on the hottest summer days.  But me?  Well, I’m strange.  I like the anonymity of traffic.  It means I get to sing and dance and say hello to total strangers, and then never see them again.  Many a soundtrack has been memorised in my car while waiting for the traffic.  But there’s another great advantage to sitting in traffic – one that I managed to capture today.  Not very well, mind you (hey, I warned you I’m a terrible photographer), but capture it I did.DSCN4507

And this is where we get back to sunsets.

Rays that shoot across the sky in seemingly endless beams.  Yellows and pinks and blues and purples and oranges – colours that would look ridiculous together on a painting but somehow look incredible in the sky!  Silver lined navy clouds that hint at a cooler night, juxtaposed against white clouds that still have the sun DSCN4511spotlighting them in the great show that is the sunset.

Sitting in traffic tonight for 45 minutes meant a free 45 minute show of one of the greatest spectacles in the world.  With a repeat performance every night!

I realise that this series is supposed to be about South Africa and touristing.  But I’m quickly realising that it’s simply impossible to see the beauty of this country and not recognise the creator.  No one could choreograph anything as grand as the movement of the clouds.  No one could paint anything as breath-taking as the sunsets seen each dusk.  No one but my Lord.

The heavens declare the glory of God.

And here in Jozi, I get to see God’s handiwork in all its spectacular glory every single day!  If that’s not a reason to visit this place, what is?DSCN4509

Day 3 and I’m learning to love my country a lot more than I ever did before.

#25daysatourist

 

Day 1: Some QUALITY Service

Meet Stanley.DSCN4486  Stanley did something extraordinary today and as my hero for the day, he has made it onto my blog.

Today, Stanley brought me a bag.

Now bringing a bag doesn’t sound like anything too impressive – but let me give you a little more background:

I arrived back in South Africa three days ago and after waiting for what felt like hours for my bags to make it around the carousel, I realised that those bags were not coming…  That’s right!  I got the gift all plane passengers wish they could receive – the gift of not having to lug 40kg home with them after a long flight.

Ok, maybe making lost luggage sound like a good thing is a little too much of a stretch.

But this great catastrophe in my life (as I perceived it – just think: no hair straightener, no facecloth, no slippers) turned out to be a great introduction to some of the great people of this Nation.

Since the moment I informed the people at OR Tambo International Airport that my bags were missing, I have been impressed.  From phone-calls about the progress, to friendly smiles at delivery.  Each person I have interacted with has been compassionate, patient, polite, and friendly.  When I came frustrated and exhausted, the people who assisted me offered understanding, and considerate and fast service.

Tonight I received my second and final piece of luggage.  It arrived at the hands of Stanley, who drove his own car, and had his wife and daughter with him.  He arrived at eight o’clock on a Sunday night.  Never before have I known such dedicated service – and it came with a smile!

I have heard before that the people of South Africa are some of the friendliest in the world.  Today I witnessed first-hand the sincerity, dedication, and friendliness of one of South Africa’s finest.

Today, thanks to Stanley, I am proud to be South African. Today, I am a very happy tourist!

#25daysatourist