As for traveling I grew up in a mixed environment. There was my grandfather who had once been mistaken for a member of the mob, had eaten live monkey in China and had gotten food poisoning in Japan. Then there was my mother who always told me the grass was much greener at the other side and inspired me to travel. But only when I’d come of age, because there was also my dad. My dad’s a very strong and bear-like man, but he has some secret fears. He is scared of flying, foreign languages, other cultures, being homesick, foreigners in general, foreign food, foreign music anything beyond the boundaries of our garden and basically anything he did not grow up with. As a consequence the only traveling I knew was spending summers at our safe (dull) summer house in the south of France, eating the same food as we did back home and listening to the same music.
When I graduated high school I was still a minor and therefore no world trips where to take place. My decision was to temporarily be a good girl and go to business school, for the mere reason of being able to study abroad later on. This is where the fun began. Really my only objective was to leave my parents, though I was not allowed nor financially capable to leave the house. Therefore going abroad was the only option.
I took some vacations when I could, but the true adventure came in South Africa. I was curious and hungry for adventure, so I was friendly to anyone, naive and too open-minded. This led to me almost being harassed by men my dad’s age, having to use the service entrance to my apartment cause some guy I’d dated would await me in front of the normal one for weeks, my drink being spiked and accidentally smuggling weed past port security onto a yacht. Furthermore I got drunk in countries such as Morocco and Egypt, pissing off local authorities.
Also back home I was still craving danger and I made crazy plans such as crossing Africa by myself from north to south, trying dangerous sports and moving to Asia. Until I was eavesdropping on two students in the train the other day. Student A, I’ll call him Tom had spent some time in South Africa. He spoke for a while about all places that I had visited and loved so much. Then he spoke about his friend, a 20 year old student from France. I’ll call him Jean-Pierre, cause that’s what all French are named, right?
Jean-Pierre spent a summer in Cape Town, partying a lot like students are supposed to do. One night he was driving, fairly intoxicated and he got pulled over. The police hinted for a bribe, but in his drunk state of mind Jean-Pierre refused and expressed hatred towards this corrupt system. The police officer arrested him and took him to the station, where he was led into a cell with three officers. The officers raped Jean-Pierre and released him the next morning. Upon his return to France, Jean-Pierre tested positive for HIV.
This story really hit me because I knew it is a reality in South-Africa, occurring on a daily basis. Secondly that could’ve been me. We were the same age and I was just as careless. Well except for the drunk driving maybe.
That is where I started wondering. South Africa is extremely big in corruption but also in tourism. Isn’t it ethically wrong to visit a country where these malpractices occur and where so much injustice is done?
Let me know what you think!