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Thursday, 06 November 2008

South African Culture at Eye Level - Page 4

Written by Jessica Borges
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While trips to tropical islands or tourist-studded hot spots have their appeal, some travelers opt to go the non-traditional route to quench their travel thirsts. For one Boston resident, a trip to South Africa was a goal she had for years. In hopes of getting a glimpse of the unique culture, meeting the native people, and taking in the surrounding sites, Kaitlin Kirwin packed her bags with friend, Laurel Fulham for a 10-day adventure in Durban and Cape Town, South Africa. A large part of the trip was spent with friends who volunteered to teach in South Africa for a year, giving Kaitlin the kind of exposure to South African culture she had hoped for.

inTravel: What kind of artifacts/souvenirs did you bring back?

Kaitlin: I brought back a lot of handmade jewelry native to South Africa. We went to an AIDS center where volunteers worked at a few hours a week helping those with the disease and their families. They had a craft center there as a way for the center to become self-sustaining. A lot of women and men who use the facility make different crafts, which is where I bought a lot of my souvenirs. They have some great designs and unique craft styles very distinct to South Africa with a lot of beadwork and bright colors. There were also a lot of street vendors, but I didn’t really buy from those. I thought it was nice to buy things from the craft center especially because the volunteers we knew were directly connected to it so it made me feel good to buy from the center.


inTravel: Did you meet any native Africans and do you stay in touch with anyone from there?

Kaitlin: We got the name and business card of a small travel company owner because he was buying World Cup 2010 tickets in Cape Town and offered to help get us some too if we decided to buy tickets. We also stay in touch with our friends that volunteer through email and they blog a lot and post new pictures about their daily activities in South Africa.


inTravel: What kind of advice would you give to others going there?

Kaitlin: I’d recommend using debit cards wherever possible and taking out a generous amount of money from the ATM whenever you use it because the fees really add up. Or use traveler’s checks. I usually had a $5 fee for every ATM withdrawal. I’d also recommend going to Cape Town in their summer[Dec-Feb]; we went in September. There’s way more to see and do there in the summer. You’d have the chance to go sailing, deep sea fishing, shark diving, and take a helicopter ride. While it’s all available in the winter too, it’s too chilly to do them comfortably. I’d be more apt to do those kinds of activities in the summer.

© Jessica Borges

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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