When I arrived in South Africa, I planned to stay here for a week. That was one month ago, and I’m still here.
I let you vote for my next destination a while back. Traveling from South Africa to Kenya won the poll, and I planned to start the journey in January. I thought I’d only stay in South Africa for a week before taking a bus to Zimbabwe.
Well, I did fly from Brazil to South Africa last month, but I still haven’t left South Africa. What has kept me in the country for so long?
Mokopane, a New Home Away from Home
My stay in South Africa had a slow start. I got a bit sick after flying from Sao Paulo to Johannesburg. My Couchsurfing host in Johannesburg had promised to take me sightseeing with his motorbike, but I rested at his home instead.
After Johannesburg, I took a bus to Mokopane, a small town on the way to Zimbabwe. Over here I found the most wonderful Couchsurfing hosts, Uwe and Emilige. I was originally supposed to stay here for only three days, but I soon cancelled my bus ticket to Zimbabwe and extended my stay to two weeks.
And just when I was ready to move on, I got a message from a dear Couchsurfing friend of mine. She was also in South Africa – but in Durban, over 800 kilometers away from Mokopane. I once again canceled my bus to Zimbabwe and headed in the opposite direction for a while.
My days in Durban were quite hectic, so I didn’t have as much time to organize my travels as I intended. I had already promised to return to Mokopane, but only for two nights. While in Durban, I sent a message to Uwe and Emilige in Mokopane, asking if I could again extend my stay by a few days to sort out my trip.
Emilige and Uwe have become like family to me, and I’m very glad they accepted request. I’m now writing this blog post from my room at their house. Unless my plans change again, I’ll finally take a bus to Zimbabwe tomorrow.
Enjoying the Beauty of South Africa
Very much like my month in Mexico City, my stay in Mokopane has felt like a pit stop. I’ve spent a lot of time reading, writing and simply relaxing. My laptop broke down last week, but I’ve now bought a cheap tablet + keyboard to replace it until the end of my trip.
Sorting out this new device has taken some time, but I’m slowly getting the hang of it.
I’ve had plenty of time to learn about South African nature and culture. Besides sharing their home and company, Emilige and Uwe have very kindly taken me around to see nearby places. We’ve visited Makapan Valley World Heritage site and many other sights around Mokopane.
South Africa is an interesting country. I’ve talked to locals from very different backgrounds, and it’s interesting to see how such a multicultural country works out.
Yes, there are problems with safety, tensions between groups and many other issues, but the hospitality of locals has still been nothing but amazing.
My Plans for the Rest of the Trip
I started my 2-year trip around the world in May 2016. Although I plan to travel a bit longer than exactly two years, it still means that my trip is slowly nearing its end.
My current plan is to return to Finland on the 1st of July. That’s roughly 4.5 months from now. I plan to spend a bit more than a month in Africa before flying to Europe in late March. I’ve met a lot of European travellers during these last 21 months, and I want to see many of them again before heading home.
Once I’m back in Finland, I’ll take my time to meet friends and family around the country. In September, I’ll return to my psychology studies at my university after a very long absence.
In other words, I’ve already made rough plans for the rest of my trip – and beyond. That’s a weird feeling. In a way, I feel ready to finish my trip soon. On the other hand, I’m a bit anxious about all the stress that might come with studies and other challenges of “normal” life.
However, it’s still a long way to go. 4.5 months is a very long time, so I’ll have plenty of time to change my route dozens of times. And before everything else, I need to get to Zimbabwe and continue my overland journey to Kenya.
I’ll keep you updated once that happens!