“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
After recently reading the Great Gatsby, and watching Django Unchained I started to really think about our history and how we have these class struggles that still exist to this day. It seems the rich get richer as the poor get poorer more and more. Being in the middle of it all one can get lost in how the real world inside and outside the States operates. When travel brings you abroad it is usually vastly more apparent the mix of extremely rich and extremely poor. Sometimes living in close proximity, but most of the time completely segregated.
On Kristin’s and I’s honeymoon we decided on South Africa not really knowing much about the country other than we had heard it is diverse and a beautiful country filled with wildlife and landscapes that will really blow us away. It also helped that they spoke English so we could have somewhat of a carefree vacation and not have to stress over the language barrier. It really was a culturally and spiritually gratifying vacation where we just drove around South Africa and marveled at the magnificence.
Upon arriving in our first stop in South Africa, Cape Town, it almost felt like we weren’t in Africa at all and maybe in this exotic city with unbelievable cliffs on one side and the ocean on the other side. The majority of people on the street we stayed on (Long St.) was mainly tourists visitors and the odd character running around. After a couple of days in Cape town we were ready to explore the rest of South Africa and started the adventure by driving our first stick shift on the left side of the road (That story to follow in later explorations).
What really surprised me though upon leaving Cape Town was the Cape Flats and just how massive they are. The other surprising thing is that the majority of the people live in these areas. Based on similar United States which has its own problems in comparison I just couldn’t imagine such a vast difference that is so aparant between the have’s and have not’s in this specific region. The first thing I thought about is why they just don’t revolt and take over this country to run it the way they see fit. Not to get too political as I am not a critic on that arena at all, but I could only assume this is something similar to what we saw in the United States some 40 years ago and to some smaller extent still today. Also the amounts of poverty like this in other countries such as the Favela’s in Rio or the outskits of Dhaka Slums in Bangladesh. When travelling we rarely see a city for what it really has based on apparant safety in these places, but I beg to question if these places are that much more dangerous or we just make them out that way for fear of the unknown.
As we continued to travel to the Southern most point in South Africa we encountered penguins waddling rampant on the beach, surfers catching some of the most perfect looking waves, and Baboon’s just eating everything they could get there hands on. This took my mind off the huge divide as a lot of the places we visited were so beautiful and we were so happy on our honeymoon that everything else kind of had a big blindfold drawn over it. After the penguins beach we headed over to Stellenboch for some great wine and cuisine, but the question was always on our mind of how long will this country remain the way it is. In an everchanging world not much seems to remain the same, but this country has been divided for so long and it has made great steps along the way, but still it is very present in our minds. When thinking of books like Shantaram you realize that the Slums he once lived in nursed in are now being made clear for skyscrapers in the ever changing world of Mumbai. So how long until something changes in this African country as well?
After really thinking about this trip in perspective and how our society in the US is ran, and the world for that matter I think there is a lot we keep a blind eye too that we need to understand. Travelling to Africa for the first time and in general really keys you in on the vast variety of lifes abroad and how vast life is around you, but we choose or not choose to draw a blind eye sometimes based on how fast this world keeps moving. After the last few weeks my goal is to get out there more and really volunteer a little each month for the less fortunate. It may be just a small donation of my time, but if we all did something like this I am sure we could make the world a whole lot different.