We have returned from our annual planning meeting/reward trip. See the photo gallery! For those who are unfamiliar, we go wherever in the world is on sale once a year. This year it happened to be South Africa. This trip marked my second time on the African continent. Of the 19 of us who went, 3 had been to continent before and 16 had not.
The experience this time around was unlike any other. South Africa is a land of contrast and beauty that is extreme. I think travel is one of the greatest things we can do in our lives. Over time, I believe that happiness comes about by amassing experiences. It’s not about going to the mall or spending money. It’s about going to special events like a concert or sports event; or spending time with loved ones; or seeing a new part of the world.
South Africa may seem like a land too far for many, but several factors have made the flights over there cheaper and shorter, especially when you’re able to bypass Europe.
Upon our arrival, we went first to a game reserve picked by executive producer Christa that was as posh as a 5-star resort in the Caribbean. It was not exactly roughing it, let’s just say that! But Christa managed to get a half-price deal that’s usually reserved for locals right through the reserve’s website.
Some of us saw lions while there. My wife and I didn’t, but we did see cheetahs, giraffes, herds of elephants, zerbras, impalas and rhinos.
Next we drove along the coast. En route to Cape Town, we went by the point where the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean meet. Cape Town itself is one of most beautiful urban areas I’ve ever seen, along with Rio.
The cost of entertainment and travel once you’re in South Africa is very similar to what it is here in the United States, with the exception that gas was just under $5/gallon. As a result, people get around in very, very small economy cars over there. Even something like a Toyota Corolla would be a giant vehicle in South Africa.
I do have one other observation I want to share. There is a powder keg waiting to blow in the country of South Africa. You have 3 million people of great wealth and 45 million living absolutely destitute. It’s been almost 2 decades since apartheid and though there’s complete freedom of movement, there are still obvious and clear demarcations based on income. The poverty over there is unlike anything we have here.
South Africa has got to figure out how, within the framework of a democratic government and a capitalist system, to create more economic opportunities for the people at the bottom of the ladder.