Traveling Struggles and Saints

DSC02681Traveling to visit other volunteers around South Africa blesses us with incredible opportunities – a chance to explore a new part of this wonderful country, a chance to meet new friends, a chance to relax in the company of a close friend, a chance to challenge all the things we think we know about how South Africa works. Add to that a sense of confidence and achievement in successfully navigating South Africa’s public transport on one’s own, and the combination is addicting. However, the high of personal success is short lived when faced with the reality that in no way can I be attributed with navigating the whole way on my own. There was Gogo Nkosi, who adopted me on our taxi ride to Joberg and directed me where to go in the intimidating city. There was the guardian angel at the station turnstile who let me cut the line to get to my bus, as it was five minutes from leaving and I was still 10 minutes away. There was Sandile, who told me about his interest in psychology and theology before I had the chance to tell him my background and interest in both, who sat with me while we waited for stores to open. There was the sister whose name I never learned who guided me through the complexities of village taxi life and recommended some interesting books. There was the Afrikaner grandmother, knitting on the bus, who spoke up for me when tea and coffee was passed around the cabin. In South Africa, you rarely travel on your own. Taxi rides may be silent, but at gas station breaks, a shared taxi is often enough to warrant a few watchful friends. On buses, drivers or attendants can almost always be relied upon to smile patiently while explaining, again, that the stop you need is still coming. In South Africa, traveling isn’t so much about moving from one place to another as it is an opportunity to be in close quarters with a new knitting partner, a new best friend, a new community. Like everywhere else, traveling here is riddled with challenges and struggles, but when traveling in the company of saints, it’s always an entertaining trip.

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