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Siyabonga: A #VisitSouthAfrica Poem

I’m not one who typically struggles for words, but it’s going to be a mighty challenge to convey the magnitude of how mind-bogglingly awesome the 2011 #VisitSouthAfrica press trip was. I feel insanely lucky to have been a part of it, with such wonderful travel companions, and experiencing such a stunning country.

A few days before the trip was to end, I started jotting down notes of all the things we’d seen and done during the previous two weeks. It was (and remains) an impressive list. Staring at that list during a long drive, it began to form a poem. And this is the result.

Here’s the warning – this poem is absolutely chock-full of inside “you had to be there” jokes, things I won’t explain, because that would take forever and (likely) all the fun out of it. I submit this poem to you, then, with a spirit of whimsy, and so you can get even a tiny inkling of the variety of experiences one can have in a mere two weeks in South Africa.

The one thing I’ll tell you ahead of time? “Siyabonga” is a Zulu word meaning, “we thank you.”

Night Safari photograph taken at Phinda Private Game Reserve by Matthew Karsten the Expert Vagabond


by Jessica Spiegel, December 2011

Unbelievably, it’s the end of our South Africa tour,
And we’ve so many things to be thankful for.

For African penguins, cute beyond words
For the fine folks at SANCCOB, saving the birds
For Pinotage tastings with a breathtaking view
For Susan & Justin & Le Quartier’s fun food

For puppy toilet paper & a hitchhiker baboon
For hyenas chasing lasers under the moon
For Indian spices & Zulu beer
For a rainy soccer game & vuvuzela cheers

For microlight flights where the guys didn’t die
For a township visit that made me cry
For ostrich kisses & cathedral caves
For bathrobed walks through ocean waves

For hippos & crocodiles floating by
For portable internet & beachside braai
For the hot southern sun, tanning our hides
For Shaheed & Thami, so much more than guides

For midnight drives leading to leatherback eggs
For antelope-y creatures on spindly legs
For G&Ts & biltong snacks on a safari picnic table
For whatever made Derek say a group of bloggers is a “ladle”

For zebras (a dazzle) & giraffes (a journey)
For elephants bathing, for the bacon tree
For hashtag-VisitSouthAfrica & “shut the front door!”
For high tea & sundowners – but wait, there’s more!

For Min‘s knack for shopping & her curiosity
For her wine expertise & love of rooibos tea
For Rachelle‘s unbridled enthusiasm & easy smile
For her giraff-ection & laid-back style

For Matt & his fabulous photography skills
For his tag-along worms who certainly ate their fill
For Derek, proving chivalry isn’t quite dead
And for the fact that the lion looked already well-fed

For David & Kat who wanted us to see
An entire world in this spectacular country
For strangers who soon became good friends
For the bittersweet taste of beginnings & ends

For the past two weeks, you can see in our faces
We are so very thankful to have seen these places
We’re humbled by our experience, & we’re not big carousers
So the only word that fits at this point is “wowzers.”