|Friday 12th October - South Africa - Queenstown
Today we drove from Ladybrand south to Zastron where our never-ending search for a playpark resulted in us having a picnic lunch at the side of an assault course. (Nearly a playpark, but not quite). Rouxville, Aliwal North, Jamestown . and so the kilometres were notched up as we near the southern coast of Africa. We have now driven nearly 24,000km since leaving home and ahead of us there are about another 1000km to go until our journeys end.
It is impossible to drive through South Africa without thinking about race. Back home I never think about race at all, but you just cannot avoid it here. I think it was most noticeable to us back in Kwa Zulu Natal when we drove from Hluhluwe to Dundee. We drove past villages and towns that were poor, with basic housing and little development and then finally we came to Dundee and the town was so much richer looking, with much nicer housing and much more development.
So what? you may say - There are rich and poor areas in every country on earth. The difference here is that the areas were (and still are, although perhaps not to the same degree) split on racial lines. The poor places are basically where black people live and the rich people are where white people live. How do you improve things for one group, whilst not alienating the other? This is South Africas peculiarly perplexing problem.
This afternoon we arrived at Queenstown and booked into Victoria Manor, a beautiful house with lovely gardens and hanging baskets on the edge of a sprawling township of small block houses with corrugated iron roofs. We were welcomed by a friendly white lady who happily agreed to us camping at the front of the house. Later in the evening we met the owner of the house a big, black man. It was a reminder to us that things here are changing from the historical clear-cut, black-white divide.
Tonight we are the only people at Victoria Manor, so we have the undivided attention of our heavily-armed security guard. Were not sure whether to feel comforted or scared by his presence a few feet away from us with a gun on his lap while Andrew and I sit and play Scrabble.