Where in the World is Grammy?
BY DEBBY CARROLL
What is it that motivates us to leave the comfort of our homes to travel to faraway places?
That was my question as I sat on the plane after being remarkably inconvenienced at the very beginning of a recent trip. It was on my husband’s bucket list to see South Africa so we searched for an affordable way to do that and set out on a group tour. Thwarted before we even left home by a forecast of a “monster” snowstorm that resulted in flight cancellations, we had to quickly make other arrangements to fly out of an airport almost 200 miles from home. Add to that it snowed at that airport too, (not in the forecast) so our fight was delayed two hours (with us on the plane already) making us miss our connecting flight. Thus, the trip that was supposed to take about 14 hours took closer to 24 hours. I wondered if the aggravation was worth it.
By the end of the trip I had my answer. Yes it was.
We set out to have fun by visiting an intriguing place. We didn’t anticipate engaging in a learning experience, but that was a huge bonus. South Africa is stunningly beautiful with nature is at its most glorious. From the beautiful rolling hills to spectacular waterfalls to miles and miles of animals roaming free in Kruger National Park. Imagine riding in an open-air jeep while herds of elephants cross the road in front of you. Giraffes run with zebras bound together by their common enemies, lions and leopards.
Then there’s the history, the story of the bringing down of apartheid. I don’t know that I’ve ever stood in a more compelling spot than the square memorializing where the student uprising of 1976 happened. Students petitioned to be taught in English in schools rather than in Afrikaans, the language of the apartheid government. Most students did not speak or understand Afrikaans so learning math or social studies (as the decree stated) would be impossible. The students were met by police and were shot down as they protested. One of the first children shot was 13-year-old Hector Pieterson, whose name and photo grace the square. Nearby we visited a church where police shot anti-apartheid protestors as they held a planning meeting. Today, the photo exhibit invites guests to write reactions on the walls amidst a display of photos of the resistance efforts of Nelson Mandela and many other freedom fighters. Witnessing the history changes you. You come away with a determination to work harder to make sure civil rights and democracy are protected at all costs.
About the Author
Debby Carroll is Avery’s Grammy and the Executive Editor and Director of Strategic Development for GRAND. Upon discovering how outdated the images of grandparents were in the children’s books she read to Avery, she decided to write a new one on behalf of fabulous, real grandparents everywhere.