once in the lowveld it is a different world. it is subtropical. very hot and humid. everything is lush and green and the abundance of life is almost tangible. nelspruit must be one of the most beautiful places i've ever seen. i felt totally at home, which i suppose is a bit odd for someone like me who has lived on the highveld all his life.
but driving there the love for this country was deeper than just the physical beauty. i felt a connection to the land. a deep belonging and understanding of it. often people talk about a respect for the sea. that is the closest comparison i can think of. africa somehow is always wild at heart and demands a level of respect. every inch of our country has been fought over numerous times and i have ancestors on differing sides in some of those conflicts. maybe this gave me a feeling of belonging. almost earned permission from the land to walk upon it's soil. all very melodramatic i suppose.
on the way there i took the photo shown above. i think only a south african can fully appreciate this photo. it was taken at a place next to the road where cargo trucks stop at night so the drivers can get a quick nap. they sleep in their trucks. this sign attests to the fact that some of these drivers have woken up in the morning to find their wheels gone! if you stop there, you may have your wheels literally stolen from under you. in true south african fashion the government solves this not by trying to catch the perpetrators, but by placing the onus on the drivers. don't stop there any more unless you want to donate your wheels to the less (or more) fortunate. if you stop there, don't blame us if your wheels are stolen. these things are reclassified as normal. it has become part of the south african experience.
in an earlier post i referred to signs warning of hijacking hotspots. it is a similar phenomenon. if you stop in those areas you have a very real chance of being hijacked. in our country this means you will be forced from your vehicle at gunpoint and your car will be stolen. sometimes (more often than not) they will shoot you just for good measure. once again this has moved into the realm of normality. the average south african knows where not to stop and where he must not go at all. i remember once driving past some european tourists walking in an area i wouldn't be caut dead in (if i was caught there i would probably be dead). they seemed oblivious to what i perceived as clear danger.
but as wierd as this sounds, when i saw the sign, i laughed and felt truly south african. the combination of the beauty of the land, the historical complexity and the understanding of the present situation all came together in a rather confusing mix, reawakening in me my deep love for this country and its people.