It’s official. At least it is in my mind. Our undecided political situation notwithstanding, we in South Africa have the greatest country bar none. Perhaps it takes distance to really see it. Actually, no it doesn’t. We know that we have the greatest country. We know it in our hearts, but we like to beat ourselves and pretend to ourselves that there is greener grass somewhere on the other side of someone else’s fence. There isn’t.
Didn’t Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz click her ruby heals together three times and say ‘there’s no place like home.’ I don’t have ruby, but I do have red soled/souled Louboutins. Does that count as the contemporary equivelant? I feel the need to go to my greatest country. Why? What a question.
Would it be too lackadaisical to talk about the weather? No, it is a huge factor, so let me start with the weather – the thing that is the stop gap in times of difficult small talk. When faced with upwards of six months of rain, snow, sub zero temperatures and relentless grey skies, does one not think longingly of the delicious humidity of Durban and the luxuriously constant complaint that it is too hot? Does one not hanker after the divine spread of the Western Cape wine lands on a languidly sunny Sunday, driving, or rather being driven to some lovely spot nestled in the basin surrounded by vines and mountains, eating food from foreign lands and the finest of South African oenological fare? Does one not sigh in longing even for Jozi with it’s proliferation of public squares full of restaurants and fashionistas and lively cacophonies of laughter? One does.
As one is jostled on crowded streets and baked to discomfort in jam-packed subway trains one thinks with extremes of yearning for the peaceful familiarity of the Eastern Cape with it’s elegantly picturesque mountainscapes, bespeckled with rondavels in voltaic shades of turquoise and pink.
Why would one be here facing this cold when one can be there facing that warmth, and not just weather warmth either. It’s the people warmth. I don’t mean the people-one-knows type of people warmth, but the warmth and kindness of strangers. We are kinder to strangers than other people in other lands, or so it seems to me.
But, of course there are advantages to being in places that offer other things. The range of theatre productions is worth freezing one’s nethers off for, I guess, if theatre is your thing. The galleries that take not hours, but days to explore are visual spirit food. The freedom of total anonymity is scrumptious. The shopping – oh hold me back, restrain me!
It’s fun to pound the pavements full of busy people on their own mission who don’t see one another; or find subtle ways of being alone on a crowed street. They don’t make eye contact. They turn their backs ever so slightly as the pass. There are a lot of earphones in ears, which suggests music, but it could as well be self-help or walking meditations. We can only guess. We will never know for sure. In truth, we don’t really care to know. We are all in our own little bubble.
But with all that is on offer to experience and explore in other cities in other countries, there is nothing that can comfort one, and compensate one when one is hankering after home except to get in the car, get to the airport, and get onto SAA.
Why sit and be homesick when there is a cure. So, South Africa, my beloved country, here I come. Just for a little breather. Just because I need S A air and to hold The Lavah and to eat in my favourite place; just because if I already feel and know that if I don’t go home I’ll be miserable. It will be a couple of weeks only until the travel bug bites again. I’ll be back in the USA on the path of adventure.