Category: South Africa

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I’m back in Copenhagen, I’m back in my hood on Vesterbro down town Copenhagen. Today I went back to my ‘office’ – a local restaurant BOBs where it is possible to work all day if you are a member of Sp8ces. Through sp8ces (no I don’t get paid to tell about it) you have access to several working lounges in Denmark and Norway – they make agreements with hotels, restaurants, etc. to use timeslots where their spaces are not occupied. It is a great concept – and cheap.

I’ve spent the last couple of days sleeping, doing absolutely nothing besides catching up on Netflix. It will take time before I have processed all my experiences from my journey. I have travelled many kilometres, met so many people – not only humanists, but also other locals and tourists, seen the most amazing landscapes and met fantastic animals. Earth is an amazing and beautiful place.

I know I’m privileged – I have the possibility to visit places where the usual tourist never goes. I’m glad this journey is a combination of following the usual tourist path and meeting people living their lives in these countries. It adds so much more when you talk to people living there and not just other tourists or people from travel agencies.

My journey has showed me the diversity of the different countries. There is so much prejudice in the western world toward the African continent – yes, it is a continent and not a country. Africa is unfortunately often perceived as a country and treated as such in popular culture and media. Africa is three times larger than Europe and occupies 20% of the land mass on Earth – it is huge.

In eastern and southern Africa where I have been travelling, they have many challenges. I travelled during the rainy season but in most of the countries, if not all, they got lesser rain than they need to avoid drought. Climate changes are already impacting this part of the world. The growing population is also impacting the infrastructure – water supply, electricity and transport.

I’ve been travelling for 10 weeks, visited 8 countries and held 30 interviews with non-believers. During the next 3-4 months all the interviews will be published as podcast episodes through Babelfish and I will continue to write articles for POV International.

At the same time, I will plan the next steps of my journey. Which means I will be pretty busy while in Copenhagen – I also want to see, to hug and talk to my friends and family. Right now it is cold and rainy – I hope spring is coming.

Table Mountain seen from Robben Island

Arriving in Cape Town almost feels like coming home. It’s extremely European and according to locals very different from the rest of the country – which means I haven’t really gotten the full experience of this country. I’ve spent two weeks here in Cape Town and haven’t seen half of the sights. After travelling for two months I needed to spend some time relaxing and processing all my experiences.

All of us of course know one the greatest humanists Nelson Mandela. You can’t visit Cape Town without visiting Robben Island where Mandela spent so many years as a political prisoner. I clearly remember the apartheid regime from when I was young, and it was a fantastic day when he was released.

Our guide at Robben Island

Robben Island is a desolate place, flat with not much vegetation. The guides on the island is former political prisoners. Our guide spent 10 years here and he told about torture, famine and the humiliating treatment by the apartheid regime. Since the regime ended improvements have been made but there is still a long way to go.

The difference between rich and poor are still huge, even more than I have seen in other countries. The different governments have only managed to lift a fraction of the poor out of poverty. And like under apartheid it is primarily black people who are poor, lack education and are unemployed. Unemployment rate is approximately 25%.

At first sight Cape Town looks like a wealthy city, but then you begin to see all the beggars. There are so many beggars, none of them are kids though like in some of the other countries. I’m not sure why.

The humanists I met are concentrated around Cape Town. They told me this country is just as religious as the other African countries, but it is easier to be a non-believer in South Africa. Or it depends on which parts of the country you are in. In some areas, rural areas, you would never say out loud you don’t believe. While in others it would not be an issue, like in urban areas.

The cultural diversity is extreme. One example I got from one of the humanists illustrates this very well. South Africa has a secular progressive constitution and homosexuals has equals rights, same sex marriages has been legal for many years. But while kids can be raised by homosexual parents without facing any challenges in their daily lives, just 20 kilometres away lesbians get mass raped as punishment.

On top of this there is infrastructure challenges. Everywhere you go there is posters asking to save water. The power plants cannot deliver enough electricity during peaks times, which means they will cut the power in designated areas for a couple of hours at a time – this is called load shedding.

Despite all the challenges I like this city – just the daily view of the mountains, Table Mountains, with the clouds makes me feel good. When you are used to only the flat land in Denmark mountains are mesmerising. Even though I am afraid of heights, well to put it another way I am afraid of heights when I’m around cliffs and trees. I bungy jump and want to skydive but I will not climb a mountain.

Happy Feet 🙂

And being used to have the ocean nearby I’ve been happy to be close to the water again. I have enjoyed the waves which are like at Vesterhavet back home, the cliffs which looks like Bornholm only a thousand times bigger. I’ve had my first encounter with wild penguins and seals.

It’s the first time I’ve been this long in one place. On one hand it has been nice to be able to empty the suitcase and hang my clothes in the closet. It’s been nice getting to know my maid Jeanette and the people in the reception & the restaurant. But on the other hand, I know I’ve missed out on so much. I could have explored the country even more if I had spent maybe a week travelling up the coast.

Seals on the Waterfront

I would like to come back one day – they have it all – the mountains, the savanna, the desert, the ocean. I want to go whale watching & swimming with seals one day, and searching for a leopard the next, diving with sharks on the third day.

Tomorrow I’ll be flying to Namibia and then there is only one week left before I’m back in Denmark, planning the next steps.

Some facts:

South Africa (Denmark)

Population:   58 mio. (5.8 mio.)

Area:   1.221.000 km2 (43.000 km2)

Density: 48/km2 (133/km2)

Life expectancy: 63 years (80 years)

I – a tourist

2019-02-19 | South Africa | 1 Comment

The Cape Wheel and Table Mountain 
in the background

The last few days I’ve focused on being a tourist in Cape Town – no interviews, no writing, no editing. I’ve been exhausted and extremely tired. I’ve had writers block – not being able to write anything that made sense. So, I needed this break, relaxing, watching Netflix and not thinking about the next steps.

This is the most touristy place I have come across on my journey. Off course the safari places in all the other countries are for tourists as well, but it doesn’t feel like it in the same way. It’s not the same kind of tourism. When you chose a safari, you are interested in the animals and proper accommodation. When choosing to be a tourist you are interested in historic sites, entertainment, shopping, beaches and animals in a mix.

My journey has so far been a mix of going on safari and meeting humanists. It has been a good mix – I wouldn’t have managed travelling and only doing one thing. I like the change in focus. But I have forgotten to give myself a break occasionally. When I was on Zanzibar the purpose was to relax for a few days, instead I worked, I edited the podcast and wrote some texts.

I have met so many people, seen so many countries, met so many different cultures, basically my brain has been overloaded with impressions. So, whenever I was thinking about writing a blog post or edit a new episode, I felt tired and wanted to lay down and sleep. I finally listened and decided to go with it and do absolutely nothing and if it required laying in bed watching Netflix all day it would be ok.

Whenever I needed to leave the hotel, I’ve followed the beaten path of any tourist in cape Town. Jumping on the sightseeing bus to get to know the city better. So, I have seen the sights from the top of a bus or walked the city thin.

As a tourist here you don’t have to interact with the population at all if you use the sightseeing buses, hotel shuttles and only visits the tourist attractions. You can keep to yourself and only interact with others if you choose by yourself. So, I choose to keep to myself trying to process all the things I have experienced the last two months.

I have visited 7 countries, interviewed 27 people, published 11 episodes of Babelfish and wrote several blogposts. Which is quite an accomplishment thinking about it. Off course I deserve to take a few days off doing absolutely nothing, watching Netflix and getting room service.

Now I am relaxed and ready to continue – in a few hours I’ll visit Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spend so much time in prison. In a couple of days, I’ll visit Cape Point and, in the weekend, I’ll meet a lot of humanists. No worries – I’m back on track 😊