Jurgen Auslander writes to MARIANNE THAMM from Germany.
Dear Daily Maverick,
Greetings from cold and wintery Germany. We are writing to you as seasoned travellers to your beautiful country.
On Saturday next week we are inviting a group of close friends for a fondue and a slideshow of our trip. We know this is very 20th Century but we still enjoy some of the older ways of doing things. None of this WhatsApp and Instagramming nonsense for us!
As I was going through my holiday snaps from the past few years we came across a few that we cannot identify. We were wondering whether you might be able to assist us with this.
My wife, Gundelbeine took these from the window of our armoured vehicle. Well, as much as we like your country we are not fools, we know of the risks and dangers. Look what happened to that American woman Mellissa Bachman who was attacked by a lion and forced to kill it! You cannot be too cautious nowadays.
The first picture my wife took from a beautiful little dirt road leading to Kranskop on the way to the Tugela River way back in 2009.
We saw it in the distance then and could not get any closer to it but thought we would take a picture as we do so love the “vernacular” architecture of your region. How it differs so much from that terrible liking for Tuscan one finds in Gauteng!
We returned to your beautiful country this year and remade our journey tracing our steps using our GPS (German Positioning System) and Google Earth.
Imagine how delighted we were to find that the small, untarred road that once threaded past this lovely settlement in the distance had now been converted into a beautiful tarred highway. And you do know how much we love highways in Germany.
We were so happy we were able to get really close up..
The second picture is the one Gundelbeine took in March 2013. We were really very, very impressed with the alterations and upgrading of the little “compound” we once spotted off in the distance. We wanted to know a bit more about the owner and perhaps chat to him about how he made this great vision come true.
We really are so impressed with your democracy and your leaders. How visionary to come up with a development like this. And especially in these trying economic times!
We asked a few people in the area if they knew what it was? A lot of them did not seem to know anything about it, and in fact some of them seem puzzled because they claimed not to be able to see the development at all. They said it was a sort of “chimera” and that maybe we had spent too much time in the sun. We always make sure we use SPF 1239 and wear hats so I do not think we were hallucinating – ha ha.
We did manage to find a few people who told us that they were under the impression that the beautiful new buildings – with a clinic, a swimming pool, tennis courts, a soccer field, and even a helipad – was a new model of “timeshare” for your country. They told us that the government had built this beautiful resort with public funds. We thought this is such a generous gesture. What Ubuntu! (such a lovely word that we have learned from your country – and we are thrilled that Angela Merkel has taken it on as well). That is why we love South Africa so much. This is what freedom really means and we would like to hold this up as a shining example of the 100 years of selfless struggle of your leaders and their commitment to rebuilding your beautiful country with its beautiful people. They deserve better and finally someone is doing something about it.
We would really like to promote tourism to your country.
We are writing to find out whether you have any contact details for the owner of this lovely “peoples resort” as we would like, as frequent visitors of course, to spend some time there in future.
Warm, kind, embracing regards filled with Ubuntu.
Jurgen Auslander. DM
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