Sunday, 2 September 2012

The Places We Go (1) - The "Tree Park"

I live in South Africa, a beautiful place with  a great climate (mostly), fantastic landscapes, incredible people. Tongue in cheek, it has also been labeled bipolar...because as high as our highs can go ('94 elections, '95 Rugby World Cup, 2010 Soccer World Cup, Madiba Day), so low our lows can go (1990's pre-elections2012 Marikana).

We have Crime.

(Sit tight through the blah blah - it provides background):

We have crime with a capital C, because it is real bad. Now the reasons for that are many, and can be widely debated, and that is not the purpose of this post. But because it gets mentioned so often, by us, the locals, by the local media, by expats, you might think we live in war zone - which is not true.  There are places in this country I wouldn't go even in a police Casspir - but then, there are places I won't go in Brisbane, in Cork, in LA, wherever.

So. What people do when faced with crime, is to protect themselves. High walls/fences, dogs, armed response, gated communities and what not.  Never get in the street except in you car with locked doors and anti-hijack system.  That's if you have money.  The guy that sometimes does a small building job for us, lays at night in his makoekoe (sinc shack) and hopes and prays that no bullets will fly through the walls tonight, or that a thunderstorm won't wash through his little house.  

When returning after an eight-month stay in Australia, we also considered estate living with armed guards etc.  We looked around, drove around, and then decided no: get a house for half the price, on a stand double the size (1300 m2) in very unfashionable lower-middle class neighbourhood - where many houses aren't even fenced or walled.  We did put up a palisade fence, have two dogs and the alarm system, but in six years now, only the top of a garden tap was stolen, and my son's bike.  No serious crime yet.  People walk the streets here, old ladies with dogs, kids walking to the café, playing in the park.  You don't really see that in gated neighbourhoods - only inside the walls.

The point is...mostly, South Africa is a safe space - out of the hot spots.  The above is the only crime we have ever experienced at our home.  Yes, my husband was hijacked once, at gunpoint, in a rural village that is known to be a hide-out for Gauteng criminals.  He was there for work, and was saved by Grace and the fact that his co-worker understood Sotho and could tell the hijacker that "this man was the one bringing water to the village".  So they took the vehicles and geophysical equipment and left them. 

Now after this long ramble - I was getting so tired of listening to expats going on about "how unsafe SA was", and how "glad they were they could walk safely outside" and "go to parks" and what not. You'd think we couldn't poke our noses out of the door.  So I started an album on my Facebook profile , specifically about nice places, outside, outdoors, anywhere, that we actually enjoyed, safely, and I thought now to post some of it here, once in a while.

Starting with:

Our "Tree Park" (is what the boys call it):

The "Tree Park"
One day, we took a different route on the way home, and stumbled on this beautiful little park with humongously huge trees and play equipment. It has been a firm favourite since and many a Friday or Sunday  afternoon would be spent there. 

There are huge trees to climb
While they play and run and do things with Dad, I sit and crochet (yip, that's the pic in my blog header)

And yes, that is Dad in the tree


Julia said...

i agree wholeheartedly ...!!

Prettee Craftee said...

Hi Stel! Thanks so much for this post! Although it doesn't really help my homesickness much lol.
Celeste x

Stel said...

Sorryyy Celeste ;-)

Reinier + Jo-Ellen said...

love your blog post! We love this park too! Its so nicely secluded and peaceful...x