Henry Miller once said: “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things”. I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to Spain and Portugal recently. Only my second opportunity to fly over the big waters, and for sure a wonderful adventure! To travel is certainly a huge blessing. To see how other countries live, experience their culture, foods, traditions and way of living really broadens your horizons.
I can concur what Gustav Flaubert said: “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world”. But I can also honestly say that the tiny place we occupy in the world, the little southern corner of Africa, is home. On the long flight back I thought a lot about the negativity that is being distributed to us daily in the media and social media. However when you experience other cultures you realize a few things about South Africans. Firstly, we are a friendly nation. People in South Africa greet each other with a genuine smile and friendliness. We are a helpful nation. As tourists we were taken aback sometimes on how people refuse to accept our help. Then you realize this is how we are raised. The “ubuntu” principle of compassion and helping others is part of our DNA. We are also a very tolerant nation when it comes to language barriers. Since we know that for most of us English is not our mother tongue, we tend to try to understand and communicate with each other. In other parts of the world, things are so different. And we have good coffee in SA!!
Landing back in South Africa the first thing I noticed is how friendly people were greeted at customs, how people are greeting passers-by, how friendly the waiters and shop stewards are, and how people are helping each other in their daily activities. After being able to easily order my delicious South African take away coffee at a restaurant, with the waiter smiling and fully understanding my order, I returned home with a thankful heart and a huge smile on my face.
Travel is amazing and such a wonderful blessing. But Lin Yutang was so right in saying: “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow”.
Mariëtte van Zyl | Director