Welcome to sunny South Africa!
Howzit! (Hallo in South African slang)
Today, I am the featured stop at Blogtrotting, a great way to see the world from the convenience of your own home. So join in the fun and visit the world.
To introduce myself my name is Cat and my family and I live in Pretoria in the Gauteng province of South Africa.
So this is South Africa – as you can see, our coastline resembles a smile, and we'd like to welcome you here. South Africa is a viby and lively mix of cultures and we speak 11 official languages. Most South Africans are at least bilingual. South Africans stem from a wide origin - African, Khoisan, European and Indian and most of us are in some form from mixed origins. Although we are facing the devastation of an AIDS pandemic and the threats of violent crime, most South Africans are building our country towards a positive future.
We live in a country of incredible contrasting beauty - all in the size comparable to Columbia. We have mountains to rival the Alps (The Drakensberg),
cities so beautifully located that they are know as the most scenic in the world (Cape town),
incredibly beautiful semi-arid region, often referred to as “God's country” (The Karoo),
natural forests with huge age old trees (the Garden route), - we did a Canopy tour there-
sandstone wonders (Clarins and the Golden gate National Park)
and beautiful of the Lowveld and surrounding area.
Our coastline is rugged and beautiful and as two oceans meet at the tip of Africa, we have two diverse coastlines filled with rugged beauty of the Western cape coastline,
to the calm of the East cape beaches
The Natal coast has a beauty of it's own including Durban's surfing spots.
No, we don't actually have lions roaming the city streets, but we have nature pretty close to us. Where I am sitting right now in my office, I can see duiker and blesbok in a tiny reserve inside the city ( but I am probably one of only 200 people that have this honor). We do have a small reserve about 30 minutes drive from home where we live where can see zebra, antelopes, hippo and even rhino. We live a comfortable 1 and a half hours drive from the Pilansberg National Park (big 5 country) and 4 and a half hours drive from the famous Kruger National Park. About a year ago, the Lil Miss and I saw 4 of the Big 5 in one morning in the Kruger National Park.
This year, South Africa is hosting the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup and will have thousands of visitors from around the world in this unique location. Soccer is the most popular sport for South Africans from African origin, while rugby and cricket is predominant in the rest of the population. Believe me, things get quite crazy, especially during the rugby season.
South Africa is also famous for some of our products, for instance, my personal favorite, excellent wines. Want to try some? I would suggest a KWV Merlot, Vergelegen Chardonnay or how would you like some champaigne? Well, technically we are not allowed to call it that, but our Cap Classique wines match the best of French - my personal favorite, Krone Borealis by Twee Jonge Gezellin. At a close second, we produce most of the world's jewellery class diamonds (so you my sport a few on your finger) and produced the biggest diamond ever. By the way, the gold or platinum in your engagement ring and wedding band possibly also comes from here. Our fruit is truly legendary across the world.
Apart from our products above, South Africa also provided the world with the first human heart transplant, the CAT scan, the Bumbo seat and many more. The first space tourist was SA internet Whiz kid Mark Shuttleworth and our golfers Retief Goosen and Ernie Els are legends following on Gary Players footsteps. We have produced 4 Nobel Peace prize winners of which I had the honour to meet two, Madiba (President Nelson Mandela) and the Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
On the entertainment front, we bask in our own little bit of Oscar glory - Charlize Theron won the Oscar for best actress in 2004 while local movie Tsotsi won the best foreign language film in 2006 . Local picture, District 9 was nominated for 4 awards this year, amongst them for best picture. Also worth the see for the story behind South Africa's rainbow nation, see Invictus starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. Our musicians are renowned from Ladismith Black Mambazo to Dave Matthews.
But the tie that binds South Africans, apart from a love of Africa and the outdoors, is the food. Or more particular, the braai. A feast of meat grilled on open coals and enjoyed by all the cultures. We even have a national braai day on Heritage day, the 25th of September each year. It is a social event that takes place around the country and on a Saturday afternoon your neighbours lamb chops and boerewors ( a spicy beef and venison sausage) will get your taste buds going.
As to our city, Pretoria is the Capital city of South Africa and part of the big metropolitan powerhouse that includes Johannesburg and the surrounding areas. We have and excellent climate - moderate and pleasant throughout the year. Our area is famous for the great Highveld thunderstorms - a spectacular event producing our summer rain season.
Pretoria is known as the Jacaranda city and each year in October our city is transformed into a purple glory.
We house 5 Universities and a world top 10 Zoo. Pretoria has many lovely outdoor parks and nature areas of which the Faerie Glen nature reserve, the National Botanical Gardens and the Struben Dam are our personal favorites.
I hope you have enjoyed my little tour around my country and my city. We hope to see you in person in South Africa, or failing that, on this blog or one of the other South African bloggers (see my right hand side bar - "Local is lekker"). Cheers!