Backpacking – Encounters
The day started at 6.30am. Leaving on the Baz Bus roughly an hour later we drove from Swaziland (a country within a country!) to Nelspruit, arriving at 12pm. It’s now 3pm, and we’re in the third vehicle on our journey to Graskop from Sabie. Estimating to arrive in 30 minutes, we’ll have been travelling for 8 hours to reach our destination. Judging by the surroundings we now see, I have no doubt that it’ll be a worthy trip.
I left St. Lucia yesterday afternoon after taking a hike with Bjorn, a young guy doing his ‘game ranger internship’ at the lodge we stayed. We walked through a reserve which was home to African wildlife including Wilderbeast, Waterbuck Antelope, Zebras and Buffalo – apparently one of the most dangerous animals. Reiterating my feelings of the previous day, the sight of such animals in their natural habitat, including that of the skies and those crawing on the ground, really reminded me that I was in Africa. Seeing a ‘scarab’, or dung beetles in their various forms is just one example. We watched one come flying past, another crawled into a scorpion hole.
Now, i’m sat in a hostel called ‘Valley View’ in Graskop, Mpumalanga listening to 4 Israeli’s speaking in Hebrew. Which do I address first? Well, Graskop is home to some of South Africa’s most beautiful landmarks – notably the Blyde Canyon and ‘God’s Window’, coupled with panoramic walks, unspoilt waterfalls and more.
Now for the challenging part. As i’ve indicated at various points in the blog, I’m most certainly pro-Palestine, with a strong belief in the rights of the oppressed nation. I’ve met at least two other Israelis on my trip, and ironically everytime I meet them i’m wearing Latuff’s Che Guevara in a Kafiyyeh on my T-Shirt. The first thing I said to Yaron, after learning that he was Israeli, was: “Do you like my T-Shirt?” He laughed, looking at it closer before saying “ah, nice.” We found ourselves both waiting for the same bus, and so conversation ensued. The question of his stance on the conflict and Israel’s oppression was almost immediately raised, sharing thoughts from the John Pilger book i’m currently reading called ‘Hidden Agendas’. We discussed it further the next night in Swaziland, staying in the same backpackers there. Turns out, regardless of where you come from in the world, you can still be a balanced human being – a lesson I’ve been blessed enough to learn the last few months. And so, instead of hanging around in Nelspruit trying to find my bearings, I joined Yaron on a combi mission here, and already I love it.
Looking forward to mountain biking tomorrow, this is looking to be a fabulous end to my backpacking adventures
And to one avid reader (I think!), Happy Birthday for tomorrow.