Valley of a Thousand Hills

Our Apologies!

Oh dear!  This time last year (February 2018) we left you hanging in South Africa while we continued our travels to Vietnam and Bali.  The days slipped by and we were having such fun reconnecting with friends and visiting new places that we never seemed to find the time to share our travels with you. 

However, we plan to make it up to you!  So, as we relax in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico, we will bring you snippets of the rest of our travels last year as well as some news from Mexico.  Our New Year Resolution was to be better bloggers but perhaps that is too much to ask from us.  So … without more ado, here are some final thoughts from South Africa 2018.

South Africa’s Natural Beauty

“I believe that South Africa is the most beautiful place on earth. Admittedly, I am biased but when you combine the natural beauty of sunny South Africa with the friendliness and cultural diversity of our people, and the fact that the region is a haven for Africa’s most splendid wildlife, then I think that we have been blessed with a truly wonderful land.”

Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom

While visiting ‘old’ friends in Pietermaritzburg, Natal, we drove the short distance to the location of Nelson Mandela’s capture in 1962. A stunning sculpture, designed by a South African artist, Marco Cianfanelli, marks the spot.

The walk towards the monument is quite long (symbolic of Mandela’s book “Long Walk to Freedom”) and at the start all you see ahead of you are steel columns rising into the sky and you wonder what to expect.  As you approach, a shape slowly starts to take place.

At 35 meters (38 yards) from the monument Nelson Mandela’s head facing west becomes visible.  An amazing memorial to an amazing human being!  A man who set the stage for the New South Africa which, sadly, has become more than a little tarnished.

‘Old’ Friends and Good Times!

It’s not just the sights that makes travel so interesting for us, it’s also the people we meet, the friendships we make and the cultural experiences we share.  We could not go to South Africa without reconnecting with friends in Pietermaritzburg, the Provincial capital of KwaZulu-Natal. 

Our friendship had been formed eight years previously when we had stayed in their garden cottage while visiting family.  We flew the one-hour flight from Johannesburg to stay with them. In a matter of minutes the years melted away and we picked up where we had left off!  Even the dogs remembered us and welcomed us back!

Valley of A Thousand Hills

Our visit was filled with memorable experiences starting with being driven by our hosts to the famous Shongweni Farmers Market. The 150+ stalls sell locally grown organic vegetables, fruits, home baked cakes and pies, cheeses, olives …. you name it!  Add to this artwork and crafts of all kinds, restaurants serving full meals as well as snacks and you can happily spend a few hours – and a few Rand – here! 

Afterwards we drove through the magnificent landscape of rolling hills and deep gorges which has been the home of the Zulu people for centuries. Over the years it has developed into a collage of Zulu communities, unspoiled nature, wilderness areas, thick forests, waterfalls and laidback country living.  This is the place to learn about the Zulu culture as well as interact with artists and craftspeople drawn here by the beautiful landscape.

KwaZulu-Natal’s Coastal Paradise

KwaZulu-Natal is famous for its many beaches on the warm Indian Ocean which attract surf-and-sun-loving visitors year-round. We included a stop at one of the pristine beaches before heading home.

South Africans are generous, hospitable people who enjoy entertaining. Our friends take this tradition to the max and our stay ended with a dinner party at their home to meet some of their friends. The combination of good conversation, great food and wine was the perfect ending to our visit.  Great memories until we meet again!

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