Thursday, July 3, 2014

Safari 2014 Journal: Eleven Glorious Days (Last Chapters)


Transfer day.  A late breakfast and farewells to the staff at Camp Jabulani as we head to the Hoedspruit airport for our one hour flight to Johannesburg, a final opportunity to see zebras, warthogs, impala, wildebeest and sole Cape Buffalo.

We arrive in Joburg and are taken to the luxurious Saxon Hotel, and I mean luxurious!  During check in we met a student from Ithaca College over here on a 12-week internship as part of his hospitality and hotel management degree.  A great opportunity.

We confused the staff at the main restaurant Xunu, that we only wanted selections from the lunch fare as we have had our share of big dinners.  And like everybody else in this country, they obliged our “unique” request.  In a twist, we went from BIG FIVE sightings in the bush to celebrity sighting as I noticed former Man U star Ryan Giggs at dinner.

Upon returning to our suite, we discovered our anniversary celebration was not over as our suite was once again decorated with rose petals & candles.  Our second joint bath in a week!

To loosen up, we signed up for spa treatments at 6pm and the two of us received hot stone massages.  My petite masseuse worked me over, head to toe; my first little piggy may have got roast beef but the 2nd ended up in traction.  It was a great massage!


The last day.  The longest day.  Today started with a room service breakfast for two and a casual late start that turned out to be a lost opportunity.  We were collected at 12:30 by Ali from Wilro Tours for our city tour of Joburg, the Apartheid Museum and Soweto.  The three hours we spent at the museum were not enough to take in the history of South Africa, the struggles of colored and black citizens and Mandela’s personal story.  Harassment, imprisonment, torture, and murder were common occurrences.  Like the holocaust museums we have visited, the Apartheid Museum leaves you mad, upset, disgusted, but hopeful.  Hopeful that this nation will remain a democratic state, expand economically, solve its labor and infrastructure issues, and continue to heal.

Unfortunately, we were only able to spend a few minutes in Soweto, the biggest Township in South Africa and home to 3.5-4.5 million people, depending on illegal immigrants.  Soweto, or SOuthWEest TOwnship includes shacks, low income, middle income and high-income neighborhoods.  In Soweto we visited the site of Hector Pieterson’s memorial.  The young oby shot dead by riot police during the student riots on June 16, 1976 and a moment captured by photographer Mbuyisa Makhubo carrying the lifeless body.  One amazing note was within several hundred meters, the homes of two Nobel Peace Prize Winners: Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu could be found.  If only we hadn’t wasted so much time loitering in the hotel we could have experienced so much more.

And thus, our Safari Adventure comes to an end.  The memories shall last, the plans for our return will be discussed, and the stories will be shared.

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