I wrote a piece a while ago about how when you buy something it should be evaluated based on how it makes you feel rather than any other superficial reason.
I had the privilege of heading to Bali as the summer slowly slips away in my part of the world! Firstly it is simply one of the most stunning places I’ve ever been to, it sort of reminds me of Mozambique in a way, ‘frenzied picturesque magic’ is probably the way I would describe it. There is the combination of complete third world little towns in the interior and then just the most sensational spots as you get closer to the water.
I suppose being in a decent hotel helps but let’s move on.
Whenever I visit somewhere I get a feeling from it, I can be in the best hotel or the crappiest little motel (thankfully not in a while), doesn’t matter who I with or who not with and it doesn’t matter what we are doing, there is something about a place that speaks, it’s the soul of the place.
I can only imagine the hardships that go on in Bali, people are by generalization VERY poor and spend all their energy getting and keeping a job that is serving fat foreigners sunning themselves by the beach or pool (tourism accounts for a massive chunk of Balinese employment hence the dedicated tourism University). Because of this kind of situation in many places I’ve been to, this has somewhat stunted the emotion of these people and they sort of live in an existent state of perpetual emotionless-ness, but not the Balinese, through whatever adversity they somehow manage to exude only warmth, tranquility and peacefulness. I’m not one to get in the religion debate but somehow the two places I’ve felt this feeling most are India and Bali so far (both share deep ancient roots in Hinduism).
Whether it’s that or the weather, because I don’t think it’s possible to be sad in a place that looks like this day after day, I’m not exactly sure but to be in a place where from the moment you step off the plane you know that things won’t work so well, you know that customs will take a few hours to get through and you know that you will wait in traffic a lot because there’s only one crumbling road from A to B, but you don’t care. The place somehow seems to grab hold of your insides and soothes them.
I’ve been thinking a lot about South Africa lately. As someone who left recently (most likely not forever) I have some new views on it, perhaps slightly more critical views than ever before. I’m certainly not one of those ‘completely changed my loyalty, negative ex-SAns’ but when you are far away you see things differently. When you have moved out and realize the whole world is an opportunity and you can live anywhere you start to wonder why you should live in place that is in a perpetually-semi-functional-chaos?
The truth is it’s because of the soul of South Africa. Sure a lot of the time things don’t work, the governments steals, rapes and pillages, sure we have an extremist trying to brainwash the youth, sure the president is spending tax money to refurbish his palace in rural no where and the list goes on and on but somehow if you connect with a place, like I did in Bali, it grabs hold of your soul and makes you believe anything can be possible here. If you don’t believe me ask any foreigner who is standing at ORT airport ready to board their flight back to whatever country they came from, ask them what they thought and if they will come back. There is no doubt they will tell you two things every time, ‘Warm people’ and ‘Amazingly beautiful’. They wont tell you great food, nice hotels or stupid artificial things like that because this country goes deeper than the superficial, it reaches down your throat and grabs your heart and makes it beat a little faster! It breaths air into your lungs and inflates your soul because its messy, dirty, happy, magical Africa and its f$#@ing hard at times but we all slog along to make it work!
That may be why I have ever lasting hope for South Africa, I believe in its people and I believe at some point the magic of SA will help us to change it into a truly great nation. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no magical cure for the very real problems South Africa has. In fact it certainly could fail (it has been and continues to be on a knife edge) if left to its own devices but if we continue to believe and continue to WORK for its future I truly believe we can create a country to be proud of once again!