Holiday was all kinds of lovely - South Africa is a beautiful if strange country. Ever more beautiful because despite what we'd expected, even the more touristy bits like the Kruger Park still felt surprisingly quiet and unspoiled to us - though the fact it was still the low season may have had something to do with that. The less touristy parts, like the Drakensbergen, felt like a different world altogether.
And anyway, it is a different world, if only because it feels so very unsettling to be a white person there. Even though no one was actually unfriendly (well, except for that one lady at customs, who almost didn't let us into the country because our passport had supposedly expired, even though it hadn't, and - I blame an 11-hour night flight without any sleep - caused me to start bawling right in the middle of the airport *blushes*) somehow it was hard not to feel a little guilty over our being there. Never mind there no longer being Apartheid, the majority of good jobs are still held by white people, and the majority black people still live in townships or little villages without modern facilities, which made it feel vaguely wrong to be a white tourist there, with money in our pockets and driving around in shiny rental cars. But really, the people, both black and white, were exceptionally friendly, so we did feel more comfortable near the end. And there were black people staying at hotels (though not the most expensive) and pretty houses in the little Zulu villages, so things must be improving, if more slowly than one would hope.
As for the trip itself, it was wonderful, rich and relaxing. We loved the Kruger park, even though we didn't see the really spectacular animals like lions or leopards. But it was the end of the rainy season, which meant everything was green and blossoming - despite it being autumn, everything seemed to be in bloom! And we did see rhinos, elephant, giraffe, zebra, wild dogs, crocodiles, wildebeest, hippos, and heaps and heaps of birds and impalas and kudu. I'll try to put up a little picspam later this week, once I sorted all the pictures! Here's an elephant-y one:
What I loved the most - and miss already - is the rhythm of life there. We didn't take a computer with us, but I'd packed books and games and decks of cards, and writing pads and styluses and copies of a fic I'd been working on, convinced that I'd be grabbing for them in no time; then once we were there, I never even touched them once. Well, except for one book (Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys) of which I read half, in very tiny bits, but that was it. We got up at seven and went to bed at nine, even though we're both essentially evening people, and it felt the most natural thing in the world. And we filled our days with driving, walking, eating, sleeping. In a way, I'm almost sorry I didn't write anything there - I'd been looking forward to working on fic - but the urge just wasn't there, and really, that was okay.
Miscellany notable fact #1: British Airways, which we flew with, are apparently quite proud of their television history. As a result I ended up seeing Dr. Who: The end of Time on the flight to Johannesburg. Watching it, sleep-drunk and tired and in a weird kind of mood, I was filled with a deep and unexpected sense of loss that, even more surprisingly, stuck to me for the better part of the following day. Still, just as unexpectedly, I loved it to pieces. I say "unexpected" ( because of some spoilery stuff beneath the cut. ) So now, of course, I'll have to buy the Specials on DVD. Are the other ones, Planet of the dead and Waters of Mars worth it, actually? Or should I just buy The end of time separately, if I can?
Miscellany notable fact #2: Did I tell you I discovered Stargate: Atlantis? I did, didn't I? Did I also mention I'm loving it, irrationally and wildly, beyond any hope of recovery? I even wrote an SGA ficlet, if you'll believe it, during stolen half-hours on the train, in the few days before leaving on vacation. It was a surprise even to me that I did, and it's not ready for posting quite yet, and anyway, I don't even know if anyone who's reading here even watches Atlantis - if you do, raise your hand, maybe? But still, all of this is making me very happy. On the other hand, there's this Twin Peaks fic I'd really, really like to finish, as just leaving a 10000+ word WIP to rust would be a terrible, terrible waste, so any encouragement (or threats? :) ) you can offer on that account would be extremely helpful! ;)