Making Connections

Connection One

After reviewing the challenges we faced catching a connecting flight from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit we figured out that we would arrive at the same time if we drove. Seeing the countryside instead of adding a very expensive connector flight made some sense. Six hours to get there and then looping south through the park before landing in Hazyview meant about a 5 hour return. The connection in JoBurg for our flight to Cape Town required us to depart Hazyview around 7:30 am. If we return, we will likely take the much less expensive flights to Nelspruit and drive from there to where ever we are going in the greater Kruger area.

Connection Two

We arrived into Cape Town ready to wash the bush dust from our shoes.  The boutique inn we stayed at had been recommended to us by a previous guest at Kalaekilohana. The name and address was 52 de Wet. It’s located on the West end of Cape Town in Bantry Bay.  The inn is on the cliff side with spectacular views of the bay overlooking the area in a very nice neighborhood. The managers are Russell and Marnie. They property is family owned. Our guests suggested we would experience something like what we offer to our own guests. The property has 8 rooms compared to our five and they have a massive staff that allows them to pull out all the stops. The approach toward guests is quite similar. It does appear that some of their experienced staff are more than capable of creating a five star experience. They certainly did so for us.

Connection Three

We travel light and that makes laundry a part of our reality. We found a great laundry service with a quick turn around. We dropped off our load and set off to see the waterfront, shop for a dinner wine, and grab some lunch before an afternoon massage for Kenny. At our nondescript Indian restaurant, two ladies adjacent to us inquired about our accent. Hawaii! Oh my! The gate opened.

They had just returned from a ‘military’ event honoring an elder of the Khoekhoe indigenous people who had assisted colonizers as a translator.   Priscilla had been asked if she would say a few words at the ceremony and declined graciously for many reasons.  She and her friend did go to the event having wished it would have been open to the public, especially the Khoekhoe and San indigenous community.

We have so many questions about the current status of the indigenous people but had not had the opportunity to ask those questions.  This chance meeting gave us that  brief opportunity.  We shared comparisons about colonization and the categorical treatment of indigenous peoples’ struggles. In some ways our paths were similar, but the overall comparison of where Hawaiians are and where the native Khoekhoe San people are revealed a vast difference.

Priscilla shared with us her perspective that although post apartheid has made improvements there is so much more that needs to happen. You still have clear divisions between those that have and those that don’t.  Although a black middle class exists, it was clear that the disparity in wealth limits how the long term benefits materialize. In some ways, the current situation in the mainland U.S. has exposed a similar challenge.

What we have commonly seen in places we have  stayed and in restaurants where we ate was that all the service workers were usually black. We later discovered that a lot of the service employees we encountered were immigrants and those at our Inn were from Malawi, willing to work for opportunity and lower wages.

Our conversation with Priscilla, including her having met Mililani Trask twelve or so years ago at a conference hosted in South Africa and a discussion about her family name, which is the same name of the street we were staying on, reminds us how interconnected we all are and how complicated things can be. We could have chatted much longer. We both had appointments to make and time was not in our favor.  We were grateful to have had an opportunity to at least ask those sensitive questions.