Pretty much all of South Africa shuts down during December and people go on holiday (I still call it vacation, but when in Rome….). We were fortunate to have Willa and Elizabeth take the longest flight in the world to come holiday with us!
We spent the first few days of their trip exploring Pretoria. They came right after Mandelas passing, so we took them to the Union Buildings where his body was on display just prior to their arrival, during the period of mourning.
Afterwards, we went and toured the Voortrekker Monument, which is located on a nature reserve and also houses a historical museum which commemorates the Afrikaner pioneers (Voortrekkers). We learned about the complex history between the English and Dutch settlers. My understanding of the history is that the British didn’t like how the Afrikaner farmers were treating their slaves, and upon the abolition of slavery, many of the Afrikaner pioneers moved into the interior of the country. They settled on land that had been abandoned during tribal wars, but eventually the tribes came back to claim the land and war broke out between the Voortrekkers and the Zulu tribesmen. The most famous battle of this conflict is the Battle of Blood River, where the vastly outnumbered Voortrekkers defeated a huge army of Zulu warriors. Later on there were some issues between the English and Afrikaners surrounding the discovery of gold, and a few more battles before stuff started to settle down. It is interesting to note that some tension even exists today between the English and Afrikaners.
It is always very eye-opening to read the different accounts of the history. I thought the story had a lot of similarities to the expansion of the United States westward. The monument itself is beautiful and very intricate. Interestingly enough, we went there on December 15th but December 16th is the day where the sun shines directly onto a marble shrine within the monument. Just our luck to be off by a day. 🙂
Stay tuned to hear about our safari which was the absolute highlight of their trip, as well as a day trip to Soweto and Sandton, plus Christmas! 🙂 Elizabeth has even agreed to write a guest post for my blog about their experience!
Also, it is about time I introduced the newest member of our family: This is Olifant, the Papillon puppy. Olifant means elephant in Afrikaans, and we decided to call him Ollie for short. He is almost 11 weeks old and we’ve had him for about 3 weeks now. The kids are so happy and really great with him so far.
Love from South Africa! xoxoxo