South Africa, Day 10: Headed home.

Well, this is it, the last post on the last day in South Africa. For those loyal readers, thanks for sticking with me — I’ll miss telling this story, which only means I have to go on another big, fabulous, exotic trip soon! Stay tuned.

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We were awakened again at 5:00 a.m. on our last day at Entabeni. As I sat up in bed, I started to feel the tell-tale scratchy throat that comes with the common cold. Nah, I said, it’s just the dry air. Uh huh.

We caught a vehicle and headed for coffee and biscotti at the lodge before the morning game ride. But on the way we encountered a herd of 3 or 4 giraffes, just grazing on the trees there in the dawning light. It was too dark to get a great photo, but they were still a sight to behold. So beautiful and awkward yet graceful.

Giraffe, in the dark.

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South Africa, Day 6: Johannesburg and Soweto.

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I feel like those kids on “How I Met Your Mother”: Dad, it’s taken you a year to tell this story.

Well, yes, 6 months … but we’re getting there.

It’s now Day 6, the first morning in Johannesburg. Finally, finally, we awake to clear, sunny skies.

View from the top of the Westcliff.

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South Africa, Day 5: Redressing the past.

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Here’s where it starts to get heavy. On Day 4 at the Solms-Delta winery, we began to delve deeper into the issues of race and culture in South Africa today. It’s definitely a country in transition, still reeling from its history of apartheid. But while I expected an unstable, even corrupt and crime-ridden society, instead I witnessed one full of hope, optimism and possibility, even while the future is very much unknown.

On Day 5, following our obligatory omelet and breakfast spread, we packed our emergency box of pastries and headed to Eerste River, a colored community on the outskirts of Cape Town. Our appointment was at the Eerste River Hospital, where we were to meet hospital CEO Dr. Visser. South Africa operates a state health system, and the country deals with many health issues, including AIDS and outbreaks of tuberculosis that have been exacerbated by the AIDS situation. South Africa’s previous president Thabo Mbeki was considered an AIDS denialist, and while he was in office his personal philosophy became government policy. During that time, necessary antiretrovirals were denied to hospitals trying to treat AIDS patients. Under current president Jacob Zuma, that policy has been reversed; though, after being accused of rape by an AIDS activist and declaring it to be consensual, Zuma stated that he did not take precautions since he “took a hot shower.” I’m sure that sort of misinformation isn’t helping the matter.

Eerste River Hospital.

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South Africa, Days 1-2: Just getting there.

[Sidebar: Today is September 5, which marks the first anniversary of this blog! My first official post was a recap of my trip to Australia, so it’s both surprising and apropos that one year later I’m talking about another big trip. If only my life were always that exciting!

I started this blog as a lark, because I was feeling bored and unchallenged. But along the way I’ve received love and encouragement from so many of you who read it regularly, and miss it when I don’t write. So, thank you to all of my readers, whether this is your first post or you’ve dutifully read all 79 of them. Your support (and eyeballs) really mean so much. Mwah, Whitney]

Oh, South Africa. Where to even begin. I knew this trip would be important and life-changing even before the flight took off, and it didn’t disappoint. I’ll attempt to recap here all that we did, saw, ate and felt over those jam-packed 10 days abroad. As you’ve seen, I’m a terrible photographer, so please know that I won’t do the country’s beauty one bit of justice. It’s such a special place, and it was a special trip. One that we’re still talking about and will for months and years to come.

To begin: we flew for days and days.
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