Thursday 4 Jun
Johannesburg, South Africa
Day 14: Drive to Jo'burg, fly to Cape Town, fly to Amsterdam *phew*!
Last morning in Africa ...
We awoke at 3:30am (well, I actually awoke at 1:30am, afraid the 3:30 alarm wouldn't go off) to begin our approx 5 hour drive to Johannesburg. There, we'd catch our flight back to Cape Town, then later that evening, our marathon 12-hour overnight flight to Amsterdam. A long travel day.
Aart and Marcelle, our innkeepers, actually got up to see us off (god those Dutch are dedicated), and when I passed the kitchen on the way out with my first load of bags, Marcelle had a complete tea/coffee service set up for us. I grabbed a cup of Five Roses tea (which seems to be the only tea in South Africa, and is actually pretty good [says the tea snob]), and gulped it down while Colleen finished up her packing. After a heartfelt goodbye from our hosts, we were on the road by 4:30am. We narrowly missed hitting a porcupine - brown and white-striped needles raised - on the red dirt road out of the lodge, but it was really cool (and a bit startling as we slammed on the brakes) to see this animal all spined out.
We grew melancholy as we watched the Big Red Sun rise behind us as we drove down the expressway, during our last morning here in Africa. I have come to respect and feel remarkable compassion for this country - despite its soul-crushing poverty, its persistent class and race wars - because of its remarkable survival instinct, I suppose, that seems ingrained in both its people and its animals. Africa is the homeland for the human species; we began our life here on Earth on this continent - and on some level one can feel that. It is as undeniable as the complex life energy infused into the air, the wildness of the animals, the rich and varied culture of the native peoples, which has remained strong and proud despite all efforts to eradicate them.
NEXT: Amsterdam and Van Gogh