We've known each other for a few years now, so it's not surprising that our friend Patrick from Strassbourg keeps telling us about the experiences and impressions he's had during his professional paragliding tours around the world.
So we received some first photos by email, which showed a fantastic stretch of coast, followed by some wonderful shots of the local fauna and flora. Yes, Patrick also has a knack for photography. Of course, there were also some "aerial photos" among them, which once again showed the partly untouched nature of the South African coast.
Patrick and Vincent for paragliding in South Africa
When winter dominates the country in Europe, it's not just the songbirds who flee, no, our "colleagues paragliders" are often out and about in distant climes to pursue their sport. Already in December Patrick informed us about his plans to fly to South Africa for about 3 weeks in January. Actually, there was supposed to be a weekend together in Strasbourg beforehand, but as is so often the case in the world, tight deadlines prevented this meeting. So January 11th was fast approaching and with it the departure date of Patrick and his friend Vincent for paragliding in South Africa (Pictures shown are from Strassbourg area).
We were a bit surprised to receive an e-mail from Patrick right at the beginning of the following first few days, which contained beautiful photos in the attachment, but only the words in text form as information: "Everything is different here"! Strange and yet actually logical, we thought, of course everything is different, after all South Africa is far away from Europe! Another continent after all. But we weren't used to it at all from Patrick.
No street markets or bazaars like he loves to communicate
Of course we immediately asked what was so different. And then it took a few days to get an answer. For reasons that we don't want to explain any further at this point, we'll omit Patrick's first few words. The further course of his email read something like: "Welcome to South Africa, where all houses and gardens, sometimes even the fields, are surrounded by 2 meter high barbed wire fences". Patrick refers to the further explanations of the inhabitants as "cold company" in relation to ostentatious, cold shopping markets comparable to the shopping malls in the USA or Canada, despite some quite likeable people. No street markets or bazaars like he loves to communicate and exchange with people.
Is this really Africa? Where are the locals? Large parts of the population still live in ghettos on the outskirts of the cities, and the townships that once formed the basis for the overthrow of the ruling apartheid politicians still exist. And even if there are already clear changes, one is far removed from Western, democratic standards.
Porterville, all flights had to be terminated around 2:00 p.m.
The opportunities to fly didn't raise any real enthusiasm either, because here, too, the launch sites and take-offs were partly surrounded by high fences and horrendous launch fees of between €10 and 20 per launch site had to be paid. Oh, how cheap are European starting places in comparison.
Enthusiasm for landscape and nature only came up at the launch site in Kleinkrantz, where there was a 20-kilometer ridge by the sea, making it a really interesting flying area. In Porterville, all flights had to be terminated around 2:00 p.m. due to the extreme winds that then developed, if one did not want to expose oneself to the potential danger. These winds continued in sudden force until evening. So not a real highlight for the paraglider.
Patrick's side was only enthusiastic when he was able to report on the natural and animal world. Not only the many animal species, often relatively unknown to Europeans, caused astonishment, no, it was above all the lack of shyness that made it possible to photograph animals up close. And since Patrick considers photography to be his second favorite hobby, the stay in South Africa was worth all the hardships.
To fly no, to photograph again and again, that's the conclusion of this short report.
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