Chapter 1/4: how to spend ten days with your family in South Africa.
Keep them busy.
Meet the warrior
You see, my dad likes to read.
A lot. One of his favorite authors has always been Wilbur Smith
, known for all the sagas and stories about the Afrikaners, the English Colonialists and the wars with the Zulu
and other tribes (i.e. Xhosa)
. He traveled around the world back in the 60's, 70's and 80's, always for work, never for pleasure, and he always regretted not being able to visit South Africa.
Granted, his idea of South Africa was similar to the one in the books he read.
So he was probably a bit disappointed in seeing an Americanized version of the country he wanted to visit: giant malls, huge roads, electricity and coca cola widely available in any store (well, more coke than electricity, thanks to Eskom).
I knew what I needed to do and only few days earlier I booked a visit to the Lesedi Cultural Village
, one of those tourist attractions where you can see how people lived from the different black tribes that were originally here.
After a long drive we arrived there with the whole team: Olgiatis + Thomsons. Unfortunately the weather wasn't that good and what started as a sunny day soon turned in a might storm that almost spoiled our visit.
At the village they had to quickly reorganize all the shows in the giant tent but it was worth it. We visited the kraals and saw the different kind of constructions they lived in, and after a slow start, with the necessary explanation of the differences between tribes (mostly how they dress and if they click when they talk, or not...), it was time for the energetic (and somehow painful) tribal dances.
Definitely my personal highlight was the Challenge.
The main Zulu guy challenged any adult male around to fight against his biggest warrior in the inner circle, by the traditional Zulu rules. After 5 minutes of silence in the medium sized crowd sitting around (around 60-70 people), I decided to answer to the challenge and I stepped in to fight with their warrior.
They gave me a small shield and some sort of hammer, just lighter and made of wood. The rules are similar to fencing, with the addition of the shield. You are supposed to hit the opponent, step back, block the attack and so on, following some sort of rhythm. It was quite short but intense, and thanks to a probably illegal move (instead of following the normal path I hit the guy somewhere else while he was expecting a regular blow) the fight was over soon. Sure, no blood was spilled (this is how they decided the winner) but I'm sure I made the Italians in the world very proud.
After the tribal show we ate at the restaurant inside the village, for a fantastic buffet offering the best of true south African food, from pap (some sort of polenta) to crocodile meat (tastes like chicken), from fish to delicious malva pudding.
Back home I probably enjoyed my last night of peaceful sleeping before the events of the upcoming week.
To have some last time for myself, and work to the last minute with the London office, I decided to send all my guests to the Heia Safari
, a small village where they could relax by the zebras and giraffes roaming freely around the area before the usual stressful day that is the wedding itself.
I wasn't there with them and I can relay only on the pictures taken, but they all told me they had an amazing time, the food was great and the amount of animals approachable made the experience unforgettable. Take a look at the beautiful photos taken by Olga or Renato.
While everyone (including my mum, having a blast in Cape Town and surroundings) was probably having the time of their lives, me and Lindsey were running around organizing the final transportations and dress fittings for my best men and her bridesmaids, and checking that everything at Glenburn Lodge was ok.
I booked all my guests in Glenburn
for the night before and the night after, so they could relax before and later (very important if you have traveled all this way from Europe and the USA!). I had two more trips scheduled to the airport to collect Max and Beppe (arriving from Italy) and Dominik (from Poland, without his baggage lost and found only 2 days later) and, a day later the final group: Paolo, Veruska (just married), Jason and Ian!. Thanks to Jenny (a very sweet cat lady), who gave me her van, we squeezed them all for one long, sweaty trip.
Luckily Jonathan, Liz and Roy (Jonathan's dad) decided to get a taxi to Glenburn, and so did Anna and Peter.
By Thursday, almost everyone was there, to spend one last day with the Meister before he would get married...