This is a bulleted list of some revelations we had during our trip to the country on the right.
In no particular order but divided by locale… a recap. Enjoy!
Johannesburg, South Africa
- Due to my err in carefully looking at the itinerary, we did not stay as planned in this town
- The OR Tambo International Airport, and process of taking care of guests definitely needed some attention.
- Plenty of options for eating and shopping.
- Seriously, bused to and from the planes?
- Seriously, we walked 5k steps from one terminal to the other (I counted via my Fitbit).
- Airport Craft Brewers (ACB) beer was pretty dang tasty, each of the three four times we landed there.
- Airport security was just that, people making money to make you take stuff out your pockets.
- I didn't feel safe, but I didn't feel in danger either.
- I didn't have to take my shoes or belt off, and still felt safe.
- We had to go through security each time we went from terminal to terminal.
- People watching at this airport was pretty excellent.
Zulu Nyala, South Africa (aka Hluhluwe, KwaZulu Natal)
- Renting a car is easy, even if you reserve it in a different town, like Durban (a mere hour plus away).
- Hertz took good care of us by changing the reservation, which made me thank them very much.
- GPS devices are very nice, since our US phones couldn't do data over there without charging us a mortgage payment in fees.
- They drive on the wrong (left) side of the road.
- Cows and goats are free range (no fences).
- The Big 5 and Magnificent 7 are fenced in with electric fences.
- NO such thing as free range wildlife, as we know it.
- They are called ‘preserves’ - as in preserving the wild from poachers (aka reserves).
- Or so they say…
- Impalas and Nyalas still roam free (nobody wants them as target practice).
- The game drives were fun, no matter the size of the pre/reserve.
- Its all about the guide and his/her radio on what game you got to see.
- Tips were only supposed to be 10%, but we tipped 20%.
- We were LOVED at Zulu due to tipping practice!
- Zulu felt like home, mostly due to all the Americans that were there.
- This made for a nice break in period in a different country.
- Nyala is pronounced “In-Yeah-La” not “Nie-Al-Ah” as previously thought.
- We never, ever, never had a bad meal at this lodge.
- We never, ever, saw a male lion or a leopard in these parts, which saddened us.
Richards Bay, South Africa
- Beer in the bay at Jacks was R11.50, which at the time equated to $0.80US each for a 500ml.
- 500ml = 16.907oz.
- I liked Richards Bay.
- Massages were R400 for 60 minutes, which at the time, equated to $30US.
- I loved Richards Bay.
- WiFi was plentiful by just asking the bar lady what the password was.
- The Protea Waterfront hotel was quite nice.
- I want a bathroom in my house just like we had in this hotel.
- The Protea Waterfront hotel only passed out 500mb chits for WiFi use per day.
- I got three or four said chits each day because the front desk liked us.
- They loved what we call classic rock.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
- The leaders changed the currency in 2009 from the Zimbabwean dollar to the US dollar.
- They charged for things like beer, food, and attractions like we were in New York City.
- Sorry NYC, but you gouge too, at least in Midwest terms.
- One of the seven wonders of the world, Victoria Falls, was ominous, fantastic, mysterious, and just plain freakin awesome.
- Zambia River splits Zimbabwe and Zambia and while on a cruise, you can see the difference (not really, but you could feel it).
- I never got tired of seeing hippos in the water, birds on the trees, or crocs sunbathing on the shore.
- After eating in the bush, I gained a new respect for animals - the ones that eat you as well as feed you.
- We still never, ever, saw a male lion or a leopard in these parts, which saddened us, again.
- Even after canceling our Boma dinner for another game drive just to see one of each.
- We still saw some elephants where one got pissed and acted like it wanted to charge our jeep.
- The locals are high pressure sales people once outside of the confines of the hotel.
- They are like clickers in Las Vegas (yes, that bad).
Cape Town, South Africa
- This was the most pleasant surprise of the trip.
- We had no expectations of this town, but absolutely loved it.
- So much, we could see ourselves living here (at least Rob could).
- I felt like I was in San Francisco on steroids and visa versa (I heard it both ways).
- We weren't big on the wine thing, but we still did the tours due to the beauty of the country.
- Whilst in Rome… (do as the Romans do).
- Sonoma and Napa took second place, in our opinions.
- People are extremely nice here.
- The Cape of Good Hope was a great experience.
- Shark diving rocked better than expected.
- We felt very safe, but cold in the ocean.
- I know why they call them wetsuits now.
- Apartheid ended over 30 years ago in South Africa, but it was still felt there.
- Townships aren't slums, as I was corrected many times.
- I felt sick to my stomach while touring the townships.
- I felt welcome while touring the townships.
- NYC to Jberg flight better-than Jberg to DC flight (note to self).
- We checked out of work pretty much right after we boarded the first plane.
- We watched very little TV while overseas.
- We listened to very little radio while overseas.
- We didn't miss either very much.
- We didn't track the Royals or Chiefs like normal while overseas.
- We still loved the Royals and Chiefs, but didn't care if they won or lost nearly as much.
- We quickly cared once we returned home.
- We learned - A LOT about African countries, not just South Africa or Zimbabwe. A LOT!
- South Africa is freakin huge, not to mention the other 53 countries that make up Africa in total.
- We missed our family, friends, neighbors, and home while gone - very much.
- We still haven't checked in to work on the day prior to be going back.
- I saw some things that I could only imagine, both good and bad.
- I still love the USA, more than any country.
- South Africa comes in a nice second, so far.
- I have a new found respect for my country and the freedom it has provided me.
- I have a new found hatred to the capitalistic bastards that make this country one of the most selfish in the world (not the worst, but how can I buy a beer for $0.80 in SA but not in US?).
- Ok, bastards was a little tough, but jesus, it doesn't really cost that much for beer, right?
- Poverty in US has nothing on poverty in SA.
- This was a trip of a lifetime.
- We will go back to South Africa, because nobody does something so nice just one time.
- Because we didn't see, do, or experience quite enough of this wonderful part of the world.