I’m back from a wonderful trip to South Africa. We did the usual Johannesburg, Soweto, Safari & Cape Town. This time however we also attended the Cape Town Jazz Festival.
One thing I have realized is that South Africa is about it’s people. Everyone I spoke to from our group members to entertainers the one thing they all agree on and actully state as the number one reason they love South Africa is “the people”. The people of South Africa are warm, friendly, gracious, generous and authentic. They love their country and show such pride in who they are and what their country has to offer to the world. They also love others and take interest in who you are and in that hospitality make you feel welcomed.
When I spoke to Patty Austin and James Ingram, who were there performing at The 13th Annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival, they both spoke of the people and how much they love South Africans. When I attended their performances I watched with pride as the audience new every word and sang along. The way they loved the music from American artists made me proud to be American. Ms. Austin and Mr. Ingram both have been to South Africa before and say they just love coming back because of the reception they receive and the warmth of the people.
People always ask me what is my favorite destination and with conviction I always say South Africa. Each time I go back I fall in love again. From the housekeeper who cleans my hotel room and greets me in the morning or at turn down to the CEO of South African Tourism who spoke so passionately about their pride. Each person makes you feel special and that they want you see and know their country and why it is so special. The tour guides speak with such passion you forget they are tour guides and see them as friends telling you their story. The people you meet on the street welcome you with such pride and tell you about the things you must see and do. The rangers on safari are your teachers and want you to leave not just knowing about the big five but about the little things that make their wildlife unique and special, like pulling mint leaves from a bush, telling you the story of the weaver bird, showing you how to recognize animal foot (paw) prints. Being patient with the most crazy questions and comments. All the while treating you like a friend. Having lunch at Robby’s, a B&B in Soweto wasn’t like having lunch at an establishment but rather going to your aunties house.
Of course, South Africa has the wild life, scenic beauty, food, wine, luxury accommodations, excellent highways and infrastructure, fantastic shopping and all the things that make a destination great but after speaking with Sthu Zungu, President of South African Tourism of North America and learning that out of the nine groups of people and nine languages not one has a single word for stranger, it explains it all. Each and every visitor I have met or traveled with to South Africa agree that their favorite part about South Africa “The people”
Until we meet again….