Time Travel

Okay I can’t deny it – there are few things as gratifying as passing through passport control about to leave “The Motherland” right at the beginning of an international journey.  I’m not one to post the class I’m flying (obviously meaning I always fly economy class), but just looking at that flight boarding pass and passport combination always has me wondering what the foreign land I’m off to beholds.

Foreign natural habitat?

I always wonder “is the grass really greener on the other side?”  This is true with England by the way.  The grass there is the greenest green you have ever seen!  Their grass is just pure, unfiltered envy.  You even start imagining that all of SA is a desert L Sand storms making everything look khaki brown… Like the entire country is just one big Hammanskraal… It’s so bad!

Will they speak my speak? 

Well – likely not.  This is easily the biggest pain when all over the atlas – language differences.  You leave South Africa being able to command a few African languages, including Afrikaans, only to land up where they don’t know most of those languages, and most importantly – they don’t care.  It’s even cute that you can twang when you speak – they will not even try meet you halfway.  The French and Germans come to mind here.  I have to note that Afrikaans is incredibly useful in Europe even though many have grown and been taught to steer away from it.  Being a Germanic language by origin means that quite a few other languages, and their respective languages become slightly less ‘impossible’.  What I have found to be interesting?  Afrikaans, much like English, adapts and grows with the times.  So terms such as ‘wi-fi’ don’t have a meaning in Dutch, which Afrikaans directly originates from, but exist in the Afrikaans vocab.  I can think of many South African languages that don’t… adapt.

How will the food taste?

Few things are as disappointing as bland tasting food when you can easily achieve this feat back home.  It’s as though when you time travel, by moving outside your normal time zone, your taste buds struggle to adjust.  This happened my first time in the US as well as England.  Make sure to try everything you can stomach though.  On the streets, in that dingy alley to the fine dining experience.  I found that fish dishes, that aren’t fried because screw all fried food, in England are amazing!  Or I got lucky.  Probably got lucky.  Never mind.  Anyway – this is why I’d love to see Asia soon just to sink my teeth into actual donkey meat and stuff.  Or dog meat!  Butterflies and moths!  I want to Periscope something like: “Fluffy, which looks just like my friend’s pet dog, is going dooooooooown with this chili soy sauce!”  Hahahaha!  I make joke.  I am disgusting. 😐

What fun things can you do?

Contiki tours are easily the easiest way to plan a getaway with ‘structure’.  You’ll be in a group of people likely from all over the world with a guide who will usher you between different parts of a country, or countries, showing you all they deem important on your visit.  You’ll be sure to sight see most if not all the iconic landmarks, try out the different local cuisine, loads of alcohol, get in on some local entertainment, some shopping and an opportunity to use your camera to snap away memories throughout your journey.  Ideal if none of your mates are willing to travel with you.

Will I have enough money?

There’s no such thing.  Our ZAR (Zuid-Afrikaanse Rand) has fared poorly against other currencies for what feels like forever.  No – really.  Some people are lucky to work for companies that afford them worldwide travel opportunities.  Some are afforded travel opportunities by their families, and the rest of us have to simply save up.  Contiki Tours might not offer you that 5-star life abroad, but that’s normally not the point of trying to discover and experience foreign countries.  How much is required in the end all depends on you and the exchange rate.  Good luck!

Favorite Country to date?

Strangely, being South African and all, it has to be Amsterdam.  It has nothing to do with the weed (weed is a drug – I don’t care what anyone says).  I swear.  It has everything to do with how you realize where a large part of our modern history originates.  The white people there look like ‘our’ white people.  Familiar church structures, street names, surnames and certainly a familiar Dutch language.  Beautiful scenes and bicycles everywhere you look – my kind of place that.  Second in line?  England.  Another one of our colonizers, yeah?  Really just because it feels like home as well.  The Indians, blacks, coloreds… HOME!  Well, in summer anyway. If you have pre-94 anger swirling in you – ignore this entire section.  Thank you.

Where to next?

A few Asian countries, starting with Thailand, would be great.  A party hub like Ibiza, Tanzania, Angola, Kenya (for the beautiful Maasai tribe), Nigeria (just for the street cred, but not to attend a church service there), Switzerland (for the watch makers), Canada (for the views), Norway, Sweden, and definitely Italy because The Vatican City!  I’m not a big fan of tequila, but definitely Mexico.  Brazil?  One to consider.  Russia?  Why not.  Australia?  No – too many animals and insects can attack and kill you there.  New Zealand?  Maybe.  It’s clear I haven’t seen much of the world after all.  If you know people in foreign countries – I’d recommend you start there.

What is magnificent to see that would have most people in South Africa appreciate this country for what it really is and not what the media and world make it out to be?  Travel to African countries.  Don’t even head too far out – visit our neighboring Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Lesotho, and Mozambique.  These are amazing places to start with.  So much history and perspective about the old and new in just these places with them all previously having been previously colonized much like our SA.  That said – I hope you have covered, or plan to cover, South Arica.  There’s a little bit of everything right here.

You know what I have discovered to be completely different in the conversations between black people and white people in SA?  Conversations about travel.  “When I was in Rome with Sandy last year we saw…” or some “…oh no this time the kids were on holiday in New York with their aunt and seem to have had a blast!”
That time you couldn’t wait to send your child(ren) to ‘holiday’ at their grandparents in Turfloop whilst you’re sitting with your mates talking about how much money you lot wasted at the local drinking hole the past weekend…  We’ll get there! 😦

Amazing architecture, foreign people, new languages, weird food, strange climates, new surroundings and beautiful scenery awaits us.

Paul Nigh's Back to the Future DeLorean Time Machine
Paul Nigh’s Back to the Future DeLorean Time Machine

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