Postcards From Botswana 9 - Exploring South Africa


Postcards From Botswana 9 - Exploring South Africa

By: Kayla Donnawell | International Co-op Student
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SFU Kinesiology student Kayla Donnawell is in Botswana, Africa volunteering with the Students Without Borders program (SWB).  In this article, the eighth in the series, Kayla explores Namibia and gets stuck several times in the sand dunes.

So it is my very last week in Africa. I made my way out of the desert (with a little difficulty) and all the way down to Durban, a town on the southern coast of South Africa warmed by the waters of the Indian Ocean. It is a beautiful little place with a magical blend of African, Indian, and English culture. I stayed in this great little beach house out on the bluff for a couple of days. Unfortunately, it absolutely poured rain for the last two days I was there, but the first two days were amazing. I figured since the bus broke down (twice) on the way to Durban, it was almost to be expected! 

Getting to Durban took two painfully long bus rides: the first, 20 hours from Windhoek, Namibia to Capetown, and after only a few hours in Capetown, the second leg of the journey was only supposed to be 23 hours, it ended up being a little closer to 27 hours (after two breakdowns). Nonetheless, I made it! Nothing like arriving in the center of an incredibly dangerous city in the middle of the night to get the adrenaline going!

Now winds have guided me back to Capetown, an amazing city whose shores touch both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. This is my very last week here, but I think that traveling after having been in Botswana for so long has been a blessing. I have already gotten over most of my culture shock because Namibia and South Africa were a lot more westernized that Botswana. The funny thing about culture shock is that you don't expect it! I never really find culture shock gets me until I am ready to head home. Once you leave the place where the people truly warm your heart, you hang onto the little things that you love about that culture, and it's kind of shocking to once again realize that it is not that way everywhere.

I have really gotten a feel in my travels around southern Africa just how different each country is. Until I traveled to Africa, my perceptions of this country were limited to what I saw when I turned on the television.  As ignorant as that may sound, it is the honest truth. Since being here, I have gained insight into the way the world works in different parts of Africa. Right beside Botswana, you have Zimbabwe, a country so corrupt and suffering that the unemployment rate is 80%, the inflation rate 1700%, and the esteemed president has decided to tear down the shanties that have been erected by the homeless! On the other side, you have Namibia, a country that is almost as German as Germany. When I got there, I kept forgetting that I was in Africa! South Africa is somewhere in between, but with problems all of its own. It is home of the world's most dangerous city - Johannesburg, and has between 280 and 320 murders nationwide each day. Every place is so different, so unique, so individual, just like each person.

The Motswana culture is kind of funny in that it is sort of westernized but there are these little traditions that have been carried through. Strange formalities that you would never expect in a culture that is in many ways so socially free. I will never forget the neighborhood kids that won a spot in my heart, nor the way that passing combis woke me with their incessant honking at first light. I will always know the feel of the dry desert air, the colour of the Kalahari sand beneath my feet, and the smiles that greet you through every step of both. I wish dearly that I never again will be subjected to the insane temperatures of the Kalahari Desert, but I hope greatly to meet more people from this wondrous and friendly corner of the Earth, and the amazing people I have met along the way.

Khotso (it means peace in Setswana),

Beyond The Article

Posted on March 07, 2011