Trip Start Sep 14, 2006
15Trip End Jan 09, 2007
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South Africa is an unusual place in that the environment is often beautiful and the towns are often quite nice, but the income diparity and poverty is appalling. On a major highway, only 30 minutes into our drive, we passed through part of a relatively upscale "township" and were both a bit nervous as this was not a place where white people were supposed to drive.
Unfortunately, South Africans do not feel very safe in their own country no matter what race they are. The violent crime statistics are out of this world and we would be surprised if there was a country anywhere that spent as much of its resources on security guards and security systems as South Africe. Not only does every home have an alarma dna security service, but there were many towns we went to that had security guards on every block. They were similar to police, but a step down. We read in the newpaper two days later that the armored car carriers were all threatening to go on strike becuase the handguns they carried were no match for the criminals with machine guns and larger weapons. the drivers of the vans felt that the police coulnd't protect them.
Seven hours of driving later, we arrived in Springbok, the largest town in South Africa near the Namibian border. We had arrived in time for the town's Saturday night fun - stock car racing. We checked into a guest house and then headed down to the track to watch the racing. It seemed like the whole town came out for the races. The sides of the track were packed with families grilling their dinner and having a few cold ones. We got out our lawn chairs and a few beers and watched the races (and the crowd). Hicks are hicks in every corner of the world and Springbok is no different.
The next day we stocked up on food and drove to the border with Namibia. We camped on the South African side and went canoeing on the Orange River. As we drove north, the scenery started to remind of us Arizona and the temperatures had increased substantially. That afternoon along the border the temperature reached 100 degrees. We tried to find shady spots with a breeze to keep cool and were looking forward to our next campground which supposedly had a pool.