Yes, at that time in the mid 80s, I was writing features for our local newspaper The Courier Herald for their Thursday's Tempo. So here is my story about our trip to South Africa where husband Pieter did a series of lectures for the South African Mushroom Growers Association.
Our very 1st trip to South Africa!
Rhenish Mission Church in Stellenbosch, South Africa
The above is the copied color photo that was in the news paper.
The Pdf at that format was only possible in black and white.
Later I will show the REAL photo, in better quality...
This was published on January 30, 1986...
Believe it or not, only this year I finally managed to scan some of the slides and we actually never had the TIME for sitting down and RELIVE this fabulous trip.
Always on the move, in the air or doing big projects in the home and garden.
For good reason I want to dedicate my time for completing this South Africa series, so my dear husband Pieter can enjoy reading and viewing them!
Those that can read in English, can do so via the above link to Pdf.
For all other languages I have typed again the full text so it can be translated by the tool at the top of my blog.
More photos to come in future posts!
International Influence is Evident in South Africa's Beauty
Dubliner Mariet Vedder recalls her recent trip to South Africa
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa ― Curious to see this country after all the television news, we finally landed at the international airport― Jan Smuts in Johannesburg. My husband, Pieter, was invited by the South African Mushroom Growers Association to give a series of lectures. It was our very first trip to the African continent.
At the airport, everything appeared very peaceful ― no armed guards or police like in Amsterdam lately.
The customs agents were very friendly. At all places of public resort, they speak Afrikaans and English. Afrikaans is originally from Dutch, so we can understand and read it easily. Anyone employed by the government must be able to speak these two languages.
Once in the open air of the countryside, the temperature of the late spring season felt pleasant ― in the 80s but with low humidity. We were heading for Pretoria, one of the capitals and the administrative capital of South Africa as well. The traffic in South Africa drives on the lift side of the road.
In the union buildings on the slopes of Meintjieskop, one of the world's most impressive government administrative centers can be seen.
We were lucky to get there during November and have a chance to see the estimated 50,000 flowering Jacaranda trees, planted in some 500 kilometers of thoroughfares. They flourish and drape the city in a veil of lilac ― a feature that is world-famous.
Pretoria is the home of South Africa's diplomatic corps, the military and civil service, as well as a center of culture and education. This city also hosts the official residences of the prime minister and state president.
Pretoria is truly a pretty city of shady streets, lush green gardens and parks. Fortunately, after a two-week period of heavy rain, things looked at their best. The past six years did not provide the Johannesburg area with too much rain so this caused a problem, especially because of its height (1,753 meters above sea level).
During spring and summer, South Africans arrange a lot of barbecues in their gorgeous backyards. They deserve a compliment for their well kept gardens, which are so colorful and clean! Over here all shades of green can be seen but the people are masters in landscaping gardens and adding color to their beautiful homes.
Constant amazement await the visitor to South Africa. Everything including the food, was beyond all expectations. They barbecued sheep on sunny afternoons. Sheep meat is used a lot over there; maybe it's an old English tradition.
While having a drink and coffee at somebody's house outside next to the pool (they don't have gnats), there is one more eye-catching thing. It is their walled-in garden which gives just the feeling of a heavenly room for all its fragrance and wonderful colors.
You've probably never seen so much privacy and so much delight from a garden. Most of the houses have walled-in gardens.
In the Johannesburg area, shopping is done in Sandton City, which is one out of three large shopping areas. It includes 250 stores, restaurants and banks. It is an unsurpassed center where you can buy all there is from all over the world. And again, everything is so glossy and clean. Maybe this is because of South Africa's English and Dutch ancestors? It is said that the Dutch are proper, orderly and clean. They should be unmatched in their spotless housekeeping.
With all the negative publicity, the value of the South African Rand has dropped to only one-third of the US dollar since it was ven about 1½ years ago. So for Americans, it's very cheap to go over there at the moment. Especially the food is amazingly cheap!
While traveling and shopping, one gets a nice view of Johannesburg itself, known as "The City of Gold" with its vibrant expanse of more than 500 kilometers and two million residents. Johannesburg's Radio and TV studios are huge and modern. If they have important visitors from abroad, they try to take them out there for an interview covering other subjects than just 'apartheid'. They feel very isolated and don't have too much contact with Europe or the U.S.
Johannesburg is the biggest city in South Africa and the third biggest on the continent. It was established in 1886 as a mine camp and developed exceedingly fast. Despite the fact that the golden giant grew so fast, despite the fact that it is the financial and commercial center of the country. Johannesburg succeeded in appearing cultivated, well-kept and even elegant.
In-between shopping, sightseeing and dining, there was a congress going on and we did some farm walks, also. At one of the mushroom farms we had a chance to meet Elizabeth, a very bright black supervisor. Discussing many topics and going with her through the finer points of harvesting mushrooms, it gave us an opportunity to get some inside information about the working conditions and feelings from those black workers. It makes one feel happy that you can enrich those isolated people ab little bit. At least that is something in return for all the delights in this country.
During lunch at one of those farms, sitting outside on a bale of straw at a table made out of trays, there was a stray puppy as elan as a rake. Trying to feed it some of the kebob, the dog was at first very greedy. He greeted the second treat by wolfing down the meat and at the same time biting a finger! Just before the trip there was written in The Courier Herald: Biting the hand that feeds you. That saying in English was new to us but now we understand perfectly all its meanings.
It takes two hours to fly from Johannesburg to Cape Town. It must be said that South Africans have the disposal of an excellent and reliable transportation system in air travel as well as on the road. The extensive and excellent road system in South Africa contains 47,000 asphalted kilometers. The big population centers are all connected with well-regulated and reliable air, bus and railway services.
Cape Town is South Africa's oldest city and its legislative capital. It is truly the most spectacular area in all the land and the city of Cape Town is the focal point of its many varied persuasions.
Jan van Riebeeck, of the Dutch East India Company, probably couldn't foresee what he had started when he established a permanent settlement in the shadow of that treat "Table Mountain" (so called for the clouds hanging over it like a tablecloth) in 1652. But there is no denying he must have been enchanted by the beauty of the place in all its raw African splendor. Once called the Cape of Storms, and later the Cape of Good Hope, it is indeed a tavern of the seas.
Van Riebeeck wanted a port where ships could take on fuel, water and provisions en route to and from the Far East. About 35 years later, the Dutch settlers were joined by many of the Huguenots driven out of France in Louis XIV's drive against the Protestants.
When Napoleon overran the Netherlands around 1800, the Dutch asked the British to keep the Cape out of French hands. Britain sent troops and at the end of the Napoleonic wars, was awarded the colony. This brought many British settlers. It remained part of the British empire until 1910.
Cape Town and its picturesque peninsula are an enmeshment of all the good things in nature. The blue-green waters of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, the mosaic of mountain gorges, the deep shades of vast forests, the long sun-bleached beaches and the scattered rainbow colors of rich foliage. Cosmopolitan society, derivative of Dutch, Malay, British, tribal Africans, Hottentots and French Huguenots. They are rightly proud of their multi-faced heritage and almost form a country within a country.
From Cape Town another flight from approximately two hours brings you east to Durban. (We have been brought to the airport in a speedy and very powerful Ford Sierra V-8. Have you driven a Ford lately? Yes, we flew one!).
The beautiful city of Durban was founded by the English in 1824. It is South Africa's principal all-year-round holiday resort and this continent's busiest harbor ― a playground in the sun ― by the warm Indian Ocean. Warm enough to swim all year round!
A very important crop for the Durban area is sugar cane.
After leaving Durban for Johannesburg, to stay there one more day and we got to see a lot of this beautiful country which has a population of approximately 28 million. (About 4 million are whites).
The population is black, white, colored and Asian.
The Asian population is the result of the import of Indian workmen which were employed in the 19th century in the sugar-cane fields; much of them are now well-off businessmen.
The colored population is the result of the 17th century when the East India Company started the colony. At about the same time the first slaves were imported from East-Africa, Madagascar and the East Indies.
The children born of European fathers and slave mothers were the ancestors of the present-day Cape colored people. The slaves who came from the East Indies brought their own culture and religion with them, and this explains the oriental nature of the lifestyle and culture of the Malay people of today that is still very prevalent in Cape Town.
Walking in the beautiful botanical garden of Cape Town you might witness a Malay Muslim wedding-couple. Dressed in exotic costumes they pose with their entire family for pictures. That is really different from our traditions. In South Africa there are also a lot of Africa's-Asians.
― Of the black population, 70 percent is under age 15! That will cause a big education problem.
― Another thing we were told of was that 16 percent of the population is paying 84 percent of the taxes (mostly whites).
― Nowadays the mortality rate is much higher.
― Also, they have a big unemployment problem because of less labor-intensive jobs.
Wines: It is surprising to learn about the galaxy of wines: of the approximately 2,000 labels in South Africa, about 1,300 are local. This makes it No. 13 of wine-producing countries. The big vineyards with their Mediterranean climate from Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek and Tullbagh, all in the area of Cape Town.
The Huguenots brought the vinery to this part with its excellent hills for growing grapes.
South Africa has almost all sports of the world: horse racing, golf, soccer, marathon, rugby, cricket, surfing, motor sport. The scream of highly-tuned turbo-charged racing machines... the stench of petrol and burning rubber... the searing heat of a South African summer... 100,000 spectators lining the track... helicopters abuzz overhead: this is the scene for the annual Formula Grand Prix at Kyalami circuit midway between Johannesburg and Pretoria.
On behalf of the Dublin Rotary Club we exchanged club banners with the Rotary Club of Kyalami. Being in such a group of people opens another opportunity to learn about the country.
Minerals and natural resources: South Africa is especially known for its gold and diamond mines, but they dig a lot more! For instance: the largest deprivation of the world not only from gold, but also platinum, chromite, manganese, vanadium and fluorspar. Besides, one finds also large precipitations of antimony, asbestos pit-coal, copper, industrial and fancy diamonds, iron, lead, calcium, mica, nickel, phosphates, titanium, uranium, vermiculite, zinc and zircon.
Fish: Of all summer fish, one alone stands out in their history and probably should be considered the "national fish". When the first Dutch settlers discovered it during the 1650s they saw a resemblance to the freshwater pike of Holland and so they gave it the same name ― snoek. Such a seafood selection, unrealized by most South Africans, should place this country amongst those known for seafood cuisines. But instead their lifestyle tends more toward beef and beer, probably because most people live inland, far from any seafood tradition.
South Africa exports thousands of tons of crayfish (called "rock lobster" overseas). Top chefs in world famous restaurants of Europe and America praise the outstanding quality. On Dec. 4, Bo Whaley wrote about "Fine Dining at Le Don"... He serves the South African rock lobster tails! So let's go to Milledgeville, GA to get a better taste of South Africa...
The country, the people, the food, the climate, the exotic stone necklaces and beautiful colorful beadwork, the certified contemporary carvings in verdict and ivory and the hand painted ostrich eggs ― all of it is worth seeing!
Of course it is known that this country has big problems, although you won't see much of it. TV seems to be especially interested in showing the world just the negative things! Talking with a number of people about their problems you will figure out that there is at least no simple solution for it. We have seen the results of people working hard for hundreds of years.
Although this country does need some important changes, it would be a pity to destroy all the good things in a revolution.
We went home richer than we left it ― new friends in a "warm" country. It took some time to digest it all and finally let us share it with you...
Thank you for your visit!