January 2009 Archives

Zulu baskets

Image by CharlesFred via Flickr

DAY 8

31 Jan 


Today will be a special excursion: You will visit numerous eco/cutural activities available in the area. Visit the ancient World Heritage Site at False Bay ,the largest estuarine system formed in Africa formed 140 million years ago.

Other attractions include Ilala Weavers with its  restaurant,museum and curio shops featuring tradtional Zulu basket weaving and beading. ( Lodging Bonamanzi Game Reserve)



~ Itinerary arranged by Jennae Bezuidenhout, Access2Africa
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A Wart Hog by Any Other Name

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They call them "lawnmowers" as they graze the lawn in from of my hut here at Bonamanzi Game Reserve.

Running through the bush with tails erect like whip antennas my new friend J.J. Bezuidenhout calls them "go carts" referring to those radio controlled mini off-road vehicles that zip through dirt trackers driven by enthusiastic hobbyists.

I know them as "wart hogs."

If an elephant is an animal created by committee, and a Pug is the result of a dog not stopping as quickly as the truck it was chasing, somehow I can't help but image that a wart hog is a sort of walking morality tale. I can just see wart hogs as the winning entry in a contest among the lesser gods titled "Invent the Animal You Would Least Like to be Reincarnated as."

I am not certain of the signficance of the fact that, while others on our safari can claim to be the first to have spotted rhinos (both White and the dangerous Black species), zebras, kudu, inyala, hyena, and leopard my claim to fame is having been the one to spot the first wart hog.

Wart hogs - including the sow who sleeps on my porch here at Bonamanzi - provide me with a major portion of my minimimun daily humor requirement.

Original description from en:

Image via Wikipedia

DAY 7

30 Jan


This is the day where the spirit of Africa touches your soul.

We embark on leisurely extended game drives to all areas of the Park. There is much to explore! Your experienced ranger will help you spot and identify many species of bird and animal life. (The Elephant Coast has more then 500 species of birdlife recorded). With a little assistance most people will
be able to distinguish the more common families of birds in no time at all.

Look out for the abundant animal life such as black
rhino, nyala, kudu, hippo, crocodile, waterbuck, reedbuck, red duiker,  baboons,monkeys, hyena, wildebeest, giraffe and often to be seenelephant and buffalo You may also see lion, cheetah, wild dog and other predators.

For those who are able to transfer, we arrange night drives in open vehicle safari trucks where one can get to spot the noctural animal life such as leopard and the bushbaby.Those who prefer can be taken on night drives with the accessible buses.(Hilltop Camp) (Packed breakfast and braai for lunch at picnic spot) (Bonamanzi Game Reserve)



~ Itinerary arranged by Jennae Bezuidenhout, Access2Africa
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A Bug's Life

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Here at Bonamanzi I live in a gecko all-you-can-eat restaurant.

The patrons, hanging at every conceivable angle from walls, ceilings, and the crannies formed by high thatched ceilings stand ready for the moment when I hit the switch and Africa's bounty of flying insects beat themselves silly against the lightbulbs.

If I were one of the geckos policing my place I would turn tail and run at the sight of this over-sized cricket on my bed. Maybe with an uncanny inter-species sensitivity to my all-too-present preference to be with someone that I left behind at home, there follows a long argument between us as to why s/he must remain on the outside of the mosquito net.

I emerge victorious. Still I am intentionally spurned as the defeated creature skulks away to some private corner of the hut and subjects me to a moody night of silent rejection without a single cricket serenade.

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

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The expected bird cacophony was not my wake-up call this first morning at Hluhlue. Instead an entirely foreign clicking, beeping, rasping, barking, moaning soundscape is layered over the white noise of rain on a thickly thatched roof. Frogs and guinea fowl revel in the mist and dampness. Both blend in to the swirling grey veil with practiced skill.

Somewhere below us here at Hilltop Camp the lions sulk in feline aversion to this extravagance of water withholding even their roars in dispproval.

 

White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum), Lake N...

Image via Wikipedia

DAY 6

29 Jan 


Today we head out for the great African safari in the Umfolozi/Hluhluwe Game Reserve situated in the largest and most spectacular Ecotourism region in South Africa.

Established in1895 Hluhluwe/Umfolozi is the home of The Big Five and Operation Rhino. It became world renowned for saving the white rhino from extinction. 

A warm welcome awaits you at your accommodation, The Hilltop camp which is situated high on the edge of a forested slope where it commands breathtaking views of Zululand's hills
and valleys
.

You will be sure to spot elephant ,buffalo, giraffe, warthog, zebra, impala and wildebeest and many other species.The park is also home animals such as lion, leopard and wild dog. Enjoy a peaceful and safe ambiance with Africa and its wildlife in your luxurious,air conditioned vehicle with your experienced Game Ranger and your host.

Enjoy a safari picnic at one of the several picnic sites with splendid views overlooking floodplains and rivers.(Hilltop/Hluhluwe Game Reserve)



~ Itinerary arranged by Jennae Bezuidenhout, Access2Africa
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Penance for US Foreign Policy?

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Towering over me with regal bearing and speaking slowly with a booming bass voice a well-dressed Zulu man turned to me in the dessert line. He explained that, recently at least, he rarely speaks to American tourists. My Obama t-shirt evoked the tentative rapproachment. We discussed politics and parted laughing and buoyed with the hope that we have indeed launched on a new era.

Alone at my table I noticed that others had lit lamps. Before I could ask one of the waitresses lit one and placed it on the table. At first I enjoyed the play of the flame and let memories of the day's adventures pass by lazily.

At some point I looked down at the base of the lamp to read the label. "Bugger Off!", it read.

Oh, the stabs of conscience endured by citizens of the empire in the face of double entendre and righteous challenge alike. Fortunately, I was spared the biblical plagues of mosquitoes thanks to the less accusatory function of the lamp. Passed over and saved from the full impact of retributive justice my luck improved as Monica joined me for dinner and we overindulged on Hilltop Camp's delicious buffet.
**

HluHluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve, South Africa.

Image via Wikipedia

Day 5

28 Jan 


We head out for The Elephant Coast and to Hluhluwe to a cultural village called Dumazulu where you can view the traditional zulu traditional huts, taste homemade zulu beer, and enjoy the rythmic and dynamic Zulu dancing before heading to your accommodation. ( Lodging Hilltop /Hluhluwe Game Reserve)



~ Itinerary arranged by Jennae Bezuidenhout, Access2Africa
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Discover Hluhluwe

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Off to Hluhluwe!

The spelling is nothing like the pronunciation.

Think of the Celtic pronunciation of the double "l" in "Lloyd."

Or, for those with the aural acuity and oral proprioception to catch the distinction, think of the "hl" sound as a soft sibilant.

Rather than the hard "sh" of English where the air leaks around the sides of the tongue rolled into a tube behind the alveolar ridge this "hl" gets its sound signature from air also leaking under the edges of and almost retroflexed tongue contacting the hard palate.

If none of the above means anything at all to you just think - "Tongue Yoga" - and know that it means something like "Land of the Pineapples."

Next lesson: The pops and clicks of !Khung.

OK, what other little American boy didn't feel like the world suddenly became a vastly more interesting place when he learned that there was such a thing as Dung Beetles?

Driving down the dirt tracks of the game reserve you will see perfect brown spheres ahead rolling like drunken golf balls or tennis balls along the road. The effect is puzzling on a windless day when nothing else inanimate moves. Did we come on a bush Bocci pitch? Are the monkeys practicing golf?

On closer inspection you see that a male beetle is pushing this mobile compost collection with its hind legs in a head down position. Jumping onboard like a train conductor whenever the ball reaches a downhill run the erratic roll happens as the ball rolls over him clinging to him treasure. If he's lucky, the ball is also rollng over one or more female hitch hikers. Sensing a nutritious future home for their offspring they come along for the ride until the male locates a suitable spot. There he excavates a hole, drops the dung ball inside, and the females deposit their eggs.

Most of the large herbivores of the bush have quite inefficient digestion. Giraffes with their multiple stomaches are the notable exception. The beetle larvae find a concentrated food source in their round nurseries - enough to launch them on a career of being just one of the species on constant "recycling duty" here in the bush ecosystem.

Aloes - South Africa - July 2006

Image by Martin_Heigan via Flickr

DAY 4

27 Jan
 

After a leisurely breakfast we set out for the Midland Meander towards Petermarizburg,a stunning stretch of 80 kms long and brimming with amazing sights,sounds,and activities.In 1985 local artists, potters, and weavers decided to join forces to create an arts and crafts route and The Midland Meander was born.

Today we explore, eat, drink, shop, play and enjoy the diverse and fascinating mix of arts, crafts through the villages set in picturesque landscapes offering magnificent views.

Makaranga Lodge is the premier lodge in South Africa catering for people with physical disabilities and one of the few resorts in the world providing wheelchair users with the opportunity to enjoy luxurious facilities and 30 acres of private botanical gardens.The grounds and buildings of Makaranga have been designed to be totally wheelchair friendly with 18 ponds,waterways
 and profilic birdlife and sleeping facilities for carers.

There is even a swimming pool with full access for wheelchair users.

Located in the rolling hills of KwazuluNatal and near the Valley of Thousand Hills this is the perfect place to unwind, relax,be enchanted by the scenery after your exertions of a long flight.The beautiful gardens are a oasis of peace and serenity with indigenous and exotic plants and provide the ideal backdrop to achieve the desired levels of relaxation for all who
 visit. Soak up the spirit of our special slice of Africa while enjoying refreshments on the Tuscan Terrace which overlooks a pond. (Lodging Makaranga Lodge)


~ Itinerary arranged by Jennae Bezuidenhout, Access2Africa




 
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Travelogue Entries by Monica Guy

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Day 1:

"Strikingly attractive travel companions" is how Scott Rains describes Jennae Bezuidenhout of Access 2 Africa Safaris and myself in day 1 of his blog. What a charmer. Rolling into the arrivals hall with a cheeky grin on his face that belies the 27 hours he has just spent travelling here from San Francisco, he's as fresh-faced as a schoolboy and has already made friends with half of the passengers on the aeroplane.

Not just a charmer, we soon learn, but a workaholic. Possibly the world would cave in if he didn't get online immediately in order to post his airport adventures on the blog. Possibly it wouldn't - we tried to convince him of this, but to no avail. What would his loyal followers read over a lazy Sunday morning breakfast if he didn't post anything up there?

Various techi problems meant Scott couldn't shut down the computer until the early hours of the morning. I think the problem was more that he couldn't shut his own internal computer down.

Day 2:

Taking a ride in a Zulu rickshaw is not a recommended experience. Take two dustbin lids, a few strong cardboard boxes and a value pack of kiddies' poster paints, add some superglue, and Bob's your aunty, there's your Zulu rickshaw. Scott insists on putting the yoke over his own head (for symbolic reasons?) and then overtips the rickshaw driver (in full fancy dress) by 1200 percent. The guy looks like he's just won the lottery. "I might use a wheelchair, but I'm not a charity case," says Scott.

My familiarity with the works of South African authors is not what it should be. One remedy that I would like to try when time allows is a literary tour of the country.

In exploring that option I corresponded with Mrs. Rung Button of International Travel & Tours to learn about the accessibility of their Literary Safaris. As is only natural not all sites are accessible but her willingness to undertake detailed research and work with me on accommodating my abilities spoke highly in her favor. Time will not allow me to make the Literary Safari on this visit but I commend her itinerary and service to other travelers who may be interested.

Meanwhile, I am filling the gap in my exposure to contemporary South African writers by starting Michael Cawood Green's novel "For the Sake of Silence."

My thanks to travel companion Monica Guy for discovering the only copy left in Durban and tracking it down among the shelves with prodigious tenacity. Monica, you have earned my confidence in your tracking skills should we ever get lost out in the bush on this safari.


Further information on International Travel & Tours:


Tel: +27 31 3037810

Fax: +27 31 3035224

E-mail: info@itt.co.za

Web: www.itt.co.za

Day 3 - On the Beach in Durban

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Black and white and brown in Durban

Image by bdnegin via Flickr

Day 3

26 Jan


Today holds much excitement as we explore The Golden Mile along the Durban Beachfront with its wonderful mix of cultures, nationalities, shops,  stunning beaches, flea markets, restaurants and places of interest.

You may choose exciting attractions to visit such as Ushakamarine World Africas largest aquaruim with its seal and dolphin stadium and aquariums where you can touch a starfish and feel the skin of a sea cucumber with the help of a trained guide.

Be fascinated by sharks, sea snakes, and stone fish!

We have lunch along the Village Walk with its numerous shops and restaurants before heading back to the UmshlangaLodge for much needed rest from the day's excitement. (Lodge at Umshlanga/Gateway


~ Itinerary arranged by Jennae Bezuidenhout, Access2Africa
 
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The World of Ari Sierlis

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Events on a cosmic scale sometimes take place in out-of-the-way locations.

Halfway between my home and San Francisco, unnoticed beneath the highway, the Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC) rockets sub-atomic particles toward a carefully defined target. In the aftermath of these high-powered encounters something fundamental is revealed about the power that holds together our universe.

In a small seafood restaurant at uShaka Marine World I met Ari Sierlis and discovered one of the forces of nature driving the South African disability rights movement.

"Rude", "aggressive," and "militant" are words that come to mind in our genteel post-Apartheid, post-1960's world. "Committed", "persistent", and "effective" would be more flattering descriptors for this Saul Alinsky style campaigner who wears himself out saving his corner the world. Identifying persons with disabilities as "the last minority group in South Africa to remain discrimminated against" time in Ari's presence is a blur of commands given over his multiple cell phones and interupting converstaions around the table.

The temptation of any foreign visitor is to assume to themself the mantle of de Tocqueville but offer less insightful social analysis. Suffice it to say that Ari Sierlis' polarizing strategizes from the era of of "educate, agitate, organize" produce collisions revealing outlines of the social blocs and power relationships that make up contemporary South African society.

Perhaps with more time and experience here my encounters with Ari and the projects of his Quad and Para Association of South Africa (QASA) will resolve themselves into patterns as easy to read as the trails of the short-lived sub-atomic particles created at SLAC.

Whatever the final analysis it is clear that Ari Sierlis has the potential to do much good in the work of making this culturally rich and physically beautiful country, South Africa, a destination of choice for travelers with disabilities.

Strolling North Beach Durban

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On the way to uShaka Marine World we stopped at North Beach.Nort-Beach-Porthole.jpg

Besides running Access2Africa Safaris Jennae Bezuidenhout (standing left in photo) is also an artist. She pointed out scenes along the beach that she has painted in oils. Author Monica Guy (sitting right in photo) was the athletic one in the group - first to crawl into the design elements and set off a round of playfulness.

We chose this spot to stop because we saw a colorful Zulu rickshaw. Rather than take a ride we admired the artist's creations - his clothing, his headdress, and the colorful rickshaw. Scott Rains joined in the spirit of fun inventing an improbable new means of no-petrol transportation.

Rickshaw.jpg


An Audible Experience

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Harley-Davidson-logo.png

Po-ta-to, po-tato, potato.

The bird chorus chirped through the usual - but still unfamiliar to me - chorus at sunrise.

Then an American voice throbbed through - the deep "potato" of a herd of Harley Davidsons. Across the drive is a Harley distributor.

What would this place sound like to a blind traveler? Sturgis on the Indian Ocean? Motorcycle masala?


Jaws

Image by jossthorp via Flickr

DAY 2

25 Jan  


Today is the day to rest and unwind from your long flight and relax as  you prefer.

As you will be opposite Gateway you are welcome to explore South African shopping experience. Gateway has its own giant Imax Theatre  and wave pools where you can watch people surf as well as numerous  restaurants and is a shoppers delight!

Alternatively we can attend The Natal Sharks Board Show at 2pm also as you prefer. This show is just around the corner.(Lodge at Gateway)


~ Itinerary arranged by Jennae Bezuidenhout, Access2Africa

 
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First Morning: Durban

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The light of African skies creeps in around the edges of curtains here in urban Durban. Unfamiliar birds, and unfamiliar languages, have already roused me.

Eventually the titihoya sings and I resolve, in a literary nod to Alan Patton, to wear my Obama t-shirt. It overlay's the President's face on an outline of the USA captioned by the words, "Under New Management." Civility returns to regime change. Africa awakes in America also.

Vodacom text messages me (unsolicited) to say "Thank you for choosing us." They beat my alarm clock by 15 minutes.

Oh well, at least it's not that unfortunate African lady whose husband has died and will gladly share the minor fortune left to her if i only I will share my bank account number, passport details, and send her a small fee to prime the pump. I forget her name right now but I'm sure you know here too. She writes everyone I know ;-)

Itinerary: Day 1 - Arrival

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{{de|Südhalbkugel der Erde}}

Image via Wikipedia

DAY 1

24-Jan 


A warm welcome awaits you at Durban International airport where you will be met by your friendly hosts.You will be transfered in fully accessible,
 air conditioned vehicles through Durban, Africa's exciting seaside paradise to The City Lodge Umshlanga opposite Gateway (The Southern Hemisphere's largest shopping centre.)

This lodge is 10minutes from the Umshlanga beachfront and 5 minutes away from The Natal Sharks Board. (Lodge at Gateway)


~ Itinerary arranged by Jennae Bezuidenhout, Access2Africa


 
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Home Cooking?

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Overheard on the flight from Johannesburg to Durban s the flight attendant speaks to someone in the row behind me while collecting dinner dishes:

"How did you like my wife's cooking?"

Chuckles from behind the seat behind me.

"You have to say that the food on this flight was good! It was my wife's cooking. If you don't say that we will have to fight."

More chuckles.

That young man will get far in politics!

Takeoff!

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Sure enough, today's alarm had the predicted effect. No lollygagging at 3 am but alert with the "adventure of travel adreneline rush."

Little did I suspect the adventure.

Out the door by 4:10. Arrive at SFO by 5:10. Then the wait - and wait and wait. Not to worry, plenty of time for a 7:50 flight.

Although this was an international flight I was not told (until 7:15) that one checks in at the domestic counter for international flights leaving before noon.

From ticketing I was directed to security. In no uncertn terms and with a curt brush off to the next security gate I was told "No wheelchairs!" On down the lobby to the possible entry point. Same result.

At this point I asked why. "The gate is too narrow," I am told. When I protest that segregation seems to be a backward-looking solution I am told that the "special" gate is done for convenience. When I ask "Whose?," as I have just been turned away at two checkpoints now, I am answered by the eloquent silence of a turned back. (Clever. No name badge visible from that side.)

Third attempt. Very long line. Reach the front and am directed to an even more "special" gate.

Result: I arrive at the airplane to find -- there is no airplane. The plane left in all the delay!

All travel is adventure travel with a disability. All studies record that this sort of poor service is edemic.

Adrenaline has energized me thus far. Thrust into the plot line of this trip where milestones and plot twists occur on a scale measured in minutes it is time to breathe deeply and shift to slow mode.

I catch the next plane (sweetend with a courtesy upgrade from United.) My accidental travel companion Pat Mancuso and I strike up a very satisfying conversation. On arrival in DC Pat runs ahead and does such a good job advocating for me with the crew of the connection South African Airlines flight to Johannesburg that I am barely halfway to the SA gate when I am met by a radio-toting crew member who calls out to me across the terminal.

The quality of service continued equally high on both the 15 hour flight DC to Jo'burg and the 1 hour hop to Jo'burg to Durban. Immediately seeing prominent signage on how to get help as a traveler with a disability in Johanessburg's O R Tembo airport and noting that it asks for feedback on their quaoity of service was as big a part of the total wraparound service I received from the friendly and well-trained wheelchair attendant staff that whisked me on time and with engaging chatter from flight to flight.

Buoyed by the good fortune of meeting generous and competent people all along the way I am acutely aware of the reality of "interdepence" as I meet up with my two new, strikingly attractive, travel companions Jennae Bezuidenhout and Monica Guy.

They flatter me that I don't look at all like someone who has gone through an ordeal. Maybe they think that the cock's comb of hair on my head is stylishly Mohawk. Or maybe they are genuinely as charming as they are articulate. We hit it off immediately and the conversation is nonstop as our driver Aubrey guides the lift=equipped van jointly managed by Budget car rentals and QASA the Quad and Para Association of South Africa.

After a dinner where I chose Gnocchi with tricolore sauce followed by South Africa's Red Bush tea in a busy restaurant at "the southern hemisphere's largest shopping mall" we are all ready for bed.

Too bad. New plot twist.

Two Windows Vista blue screens later and having learned more about configuring my cell phone than I ever cared to know we groggily head to separate rooms sportingly convinced that tomorrow promises new adventures - but at a "day of rest" pace!


The Hours Before Narrative

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Bonded to bed as completely as the plastic decal on my car windshield this alarm, two mornings before a trip, is not the one that catapults me out of bed with manic anticipation. Two mornings out is time for long goodbyes. It is the 'tween time when silence stills narrative. It is the time between stories when I belong to no territory and so cling closer to the one at hand.

Yesterday clothes were packed, tickets checked, friends contacted. Yesterday was for travelers' routines. Today will be the writers' day. Nothing observable will be accomplished. Stories will get pre-written and queued as drafts. Background material will be accumulated, stowed, and - maybe - used. Cameras, computers, recorders, and other companions electric will be pampered to full charge and stabled for transport.

Today is a day for imagination - a slow forgetting.

I forgot to take cash to pay Cuong to cut my hair. The owner of the Quisnos sandwich shop next store wouldn't let me overdraw to get some cash. He lost a sale. Patricia appeared halfway through the haircut with cash - and time for a leisurely lunch.

Travel begins with intention.

Intention is the spark that enkindles transformation.

Long before crossing the horizon to a arrive at a new destination an entire journey can be completed and a life transformed.

President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Dr. Marti...

Image via Wikipedia

I often try to observe in myself when a particular trip really "begins." It is not when I arrive or when I board the plane although those are defining moments. For simplicity's sake I remind myself that a trip has begun the moment I lock my front door behind me. At that point I begin to sense that I am carried along by a different dynamic and operate under a more pragmatic and permeable set of rules that are designed to accommodate the predictable chaos of transit.

Knowing that this major trip to South Africa was only days away my wife and I chose to celebrate the Obama inauguration with those who had taken the Freedom Train to San Francisco on Dr Martin Luther King's birthday and sit outdoors long before sunrise at the Civic Center in San Francisco for the community inauguration celebration.

Approaching this trek to Africa the inauguration gave me time to reflect again on "price and the promise of citizenship." The uncertainty of physical travel - especially with a disability - gave a different shade of meaning to President Obama's phrase "the source of our confidence -- the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny" and reminded me again of the pilgrimage theme with its emphasis on the universality of being human together.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends -- hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old.

These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
As I listened to Obama's inaugural address crescendo with these words I was brought back to the many times I have insisted that the Principles of Universal Design - those world-transforming insights of disability culture - are the antidote to grudging acceptance of the necessary legal protections of inclusion. As a tool for designing world culture Universal Design still appears "new" to some but, at its core, it embodies the best of what all societies strive for. I previously wrote that I am not traveling with an evangelical sense and hubris. Rather, after a long era of national shame, Obama's words capture something of the spirit of this trip:

But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions -- that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
To those who may wonder why "the work of remaking America" would necessarily include a white fundi's journey to South Africa I suggest starting from the very pragmatic observation that at times "that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness" has been lived more fully outside the United States.

As I travel I seek to recover and learn from "our better history" wherever it is lived.

Travel -- Inclusive Travel -- is a part of the work of remaking America as a gracious host and Americans as respectful world citizens. We know that a commerce of both goods and ideas sustains us. We know that diversity openly encountered and freely respected contributes to the commerce of both goods and ideas that sustains us "For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness." Difference, justly protected, enables strength. When that difference literally includes the physical weakness of someone aging with quadriplegia as I am yet moving out to encounter points of promise around the world then even simple personal encounters build the strength of nations.
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To South Africa

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From January 23 to February 24 I will be researching the accessibility of travel and hospitality products throughout South Africa.
View Larger Map

This is a transitional moment at the Rolling Rains Report. The site expansion tells part of the story. It reflects achievement of a goal set more than five years ago to create a "go to" source of reliable information on Inclusive Tourism that reaches both travel consumer and tourism professional. It also signifies success at the quieter goal of supporting, behind the scenes, those who showed promise expanding the market for travelers with disabilities.

With original goals fulfilled this familiarization tour to South Africa brings the Rolling Rains Report full circle back to my original post:

This site is about seeing.

The topic may be travel but the "revolve" is the-seeing-that-transforms. Not literal sightedness, of course. In fact, I expect active interest by readers using Jaws for Windows or other tools that accommodate visual impairments and make their participation possible.

The seeing I mean here is the seeing of mindfulness.

The discussion will frequently be about business. Specifically, it will be about the business of travel and hospitality. It will look at the economic sustainability of doing business with the aging and/or disabled sector of the traveling public. It will look at profit, product development, marketing, competition. But if this site ever loses grounding in persons - substituting statistics or truisms for real travelers - then it will have betrayed the author's purpose.

That purpose is pilgrimage.
The core value of disability culture is interdependence. Travel with a disability is a liturgy enacting the potential and the triumph of that stance of vulnerable faith protected by intelligent resilience. On the eve of a national transition here in the US I am feeling the audacity of hope. It is not an evangelical hope. As an American I am too susceptible to that.  Rather than embarking as an ambassador of hubris I choose to proceed as a fundi - a learner - approaching a place that has been a crucible of the human spirit in our time.

Whatever is to come of this haj to Africa we will discover together here in post and dialogue. My gratitude and blessings to those who have been steady companions along the way.
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Follow Their Travels

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Travelers with disabilities are the team of "mystery shoppers" circulating unnoticed around the world submitting up-to-date reports on destinations, venues, trends that eventually appear at RollingRains.com.

Occasionally these travelers become travel writers giving us a firsthand glimpse from the road.