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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Trouble with Africa

Whenever I am travelling, I try very hard to exercise restraint in the buying of books.  It probably does not look as though I exercise any restraint at all, given the number of books I typically bring home, but trust me, I do.  Sometimes it backfires.  In bookstores in foreign countries you will often find books you cannot find at home; pass them up, and you may not get a chance at them again.  On the other hand, airlines are charging an awful lot for overweight luggage now, and books are heavy.  And my husband doesn't completely appreciate my filling his golf bag with them.
                So when I was in the Johannesburg airport's very fine bookstore, a few hours before our trip home, I did not buy a book called The Trouble With Africa.  I did, however, read enough of it while standing there to understand the title.
                The trouble with Africa is that it stays with you forever.  The trouble with Africa is that it is different from everywhere else you have ever been.  It feels like an old continent, wise and sentient but also placid and still.  It feels like home to me.
                This trip, we saw a baby leopard and its mother eating an impala.

                We saw a huge herd of elephants come out of the woods and down to a river to drink.

                We saw a female leopard who, because our jeep was in her path, walked straight under our jeep.
                We saw southern stars and baobab trees, and went from frigid near-desert in Botswana to a lush tropical South African mountaintop covered in vineyards and macadamia trees, only a few hours' drive away.

                When I was quite young, I stumbled across the book Out of Africa, by Karen Blixen (originally published under her pen name, Isak Dikesen).  It made a big impression on me, particularly the evocative first line, which I found myself repeating as I stood in the Johannesburg bookstore:  "I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong hills."  I sighed, put down The Trouble With Africa, and went to look for a new copy of Out of Africa to read on the trip home.  Then I left Africa--but I go back.

guest blogger:  Kim Bradley

Paired with golf at Humewood, Durban, or Leopard Creek, a safari and sight-seeing tour of Africa makes for a spectacular family trip.  Contact us and we'll help you see the wonders of Africa for yourself.


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