It was the biggest, most impactful trip I've ever taken in my life. I have been collecting random thoughts, observations, and photos from our time in South Africa, some while we were there and others after we got home. Some are meaningful and some are superficial.
Drivers were more considerate in South Africa than America. The drivers are less selfish and more willing to drive with kindness. On the highway, if you're not going the speed limit, you would drive in the left lane (slow lane). Merging on the highway was not an issue because people would let someone in without anger, unlike what you find here.
Malls are on every corner! For every mall that closes its doors here in America, one is reborn in South Africa. They are huge, confusing, and packed with people. In fact, the Mall of Africa (a mall we drove by on numerous occasions while there) recently opened.
Shoes aren't as big of a necessity in South Africa. In America, we have signs warding off people without shoes from shopping in stores. In South Africa, it's not uncommon to see people without shoes (mostly children).
Driving on the left takes about three weeks to get used to. Even then, you’ll still have terrifying moments when you think you’re about to die in a fiery car crash.
Taxis (12-passenger vans) are devil machines that do not adhere to the laws. They’re so pervasive that not even police mess with them. I decided that if we lived in South Africa, I would purchase one of those vehicles so I wouldn’t have to follow the rules of the road.
There are people everywhere. Living in America, where you can look out your front window and not see anyone walk by for a good bit, is so contrary to South Africa. People are walking everywhere, even on the side of the highway.
Diet Coke (the best beverage on the face of the planet) is called Coke Light, in case you're wondering. It was hard to remember at first, then hard to switch back when we came home.
ATMs are everywhere! There were whole sections of every mall with walls and walls of ATMs. We used mostly cash while we were there, but it seemed to be a common thing for many of the people, too.
I definitely take the internet here for granted. It took so long to upload photos and, at times, was impossible. I missed listening to music because I hadn’t thought ahead and downloaded some before traveling. Most of the time you have to purchase internet as you go, which got to be a little frustrating. I spent two months of my life without Netflix and survived. Barely. I should get a badge of bravery or something.
It was clear, through our conversations with South Africans and through observation, that there aren’t enough jobs for people in the country. It was heartbreaking to see mothers, with their children strapped on their backs, begging for money and food on street corners each day. It is something we are not faced with seeing every day. In South Africa, it is part of life.
South Africa is such a huge country! We stayed in two provinces while we were there. Even within the two provinces, it was clear that there were many cultures (some of which were combinations of others) and languages represented in the country.
It is such a beautiful and interesting place to visit. I would highly recommend adding it to your lists of countries to visit! We loved our time there experiencing the culture and scenery. There is truly no place on earth like South Africa. We are thankful for the time we spent there as it was an amazing time, where our only job was to be a family. Because of the experiences we had and friendships we made, we feel like a little piece of our heart was left there.
If I had to sum up our trip, here’s how it would go:
3 traffic stops,
2 stamps in our passports,
all to meet 1 amazing son…
…and we’d do it again in a heartbeat for him!