So, today is Heritage Day in South Africa, where South Africans celebrate their diverse cultural heritage. That means that everyone is South Africa has the day off and is having traditional braai’s (barbecues) and enjoying the great South African Spring. No such luck for me over here in Korea – public holidays are pretty insignificant to Pro triathletes, so I started my day with a big track session while everyone at home was fast asleep (it was midnight there, of course!).
But it got me thinking… I have never been the most patriotic guy in the world. I always saw South Africa from the inside and was all too aware of its numerous problems and deep social ills. I have often thought that I would not hesitate to get out if an opportunity presented itself – away from the crime, intolerance, corruption and everything else.
However, this year through a great opportunity with TeamTBB, I have gotten out of South Africa – a lot! In fact, of 39 weeks so far this year I have spent 23 weeks (my girlfriend could probably tell the number of days… ) out of SA in various places. And, somewhat surprisingly and despite seeing some great places, it has made me realize how much I love South Africa!
South Africa has a lot going for it and a great future. It has the most diverse natural ecosystems of anywhere – beaches, mountains, desert, forest, plains and SA ‘bush’ of course. It has all the animals that go with these, including the Big 5 (Elephant, Lion, Rhino, Leopard and Buffalo) and many more. It has 11 official languages and their associated cultures. And it has a great sporting culture with almost everyone having some involvement in sport and many successful athletes on the world stage… and perhaps even an Ironman World Champ sometime in the near future…
I can’t possibly list everything… if you haven’t been, you’ll just have to come see for yourself! And if you live there, open your eyes and look around…
I guess absence makes the heart grow fonder… I’m proudly South African and will fly the flag high wherever I go!
PS> Mom, don’t worry! I am not homesick, just wanted to get the message out!