|Step 1: My South Africa Journal
few years ago, I joined a 55-member children's literature delegation
for a two-week sojourn to South Africa. Below are two entries from
the journal I kept during the trip quick notes describing
my experiences. I encourage you to read my excerpts, and use them
as a model when you start thinking about writing your own descriptive
On the road to Soweto South Western Township
We barter and
buy masks and cloths. Wonderful carvings. I'm quick to learn a signal
a thumbs up, meaning "I need a ride to Jo'burg! (Johannesburg)"
and has come to also mean freedom, "Arriba, South Africa!" "Onward
and upward, South Africa!" I use the sign to people, point to my
camera and they absolutely love posing! People call out "USA!
Michael Jordan!" Africans are free people. They go where they want.
They can work where they can find jobs.
We ride our
buses through the vast and endless (80 km) Soweto community. We
see stores, strip malls, beer establishments. We eat at a legal
Sheibeen, an eating establishment where African and white African
businesspeople eat. I will not forget this soon . . . great houses,
shanties, side by side. It didn't matter at the time of apartheid.
Rich or poor, if you were black, you lived here, sometimes, no roads.
Other times, paved roads. But now, people are free. We see women
building houses! The men are off to other work. But it is so amazing
to see women doing all the building. We give the thumbs up. We watch
the trains bringing men home from the mines. We see the former home
of Nelson Mandela, now, Winnie Mandela's home. We walk around, followed
by a group of children. The large house is surrounded by a high
wall. One of the striking sites of South Africa is the walls that
enclose every decent home. Who is being kept out or in?
Kruger National Park
preserve in South Africa and the eighth largest in the world. Couldn't
be a better day. Colors are greens and browns, bush and grasses
they fade to gray without sunlight. It is a gray day with
misty rain. The animals love it! Mist keeps them cool, especially
the elephants, whose ears never stop moving as they fan themselves
keeping down their body temperature. It is near 90 degrees
Lo and behold,
the elephants! Very close to us. We keep quiet, snapping pictures.
See the mother seemingly moving in slo-mo, her babies at her side.
I love it! They are so huge! We are above them they are below
along a gorgelike area toward water. One grand male trumpets and
sweeps his trunk toward us, letting us know that HE knows we're
there don't come any closer! Monkeys, at the side of the
roadway jumping on cars! Many kinds of birds. Wildebeests
with their constant companions, the zebras. No zoo has zebras with
the vivid striping of those on the open range. We snap pictures
of warthogs, baboons, wow! I get a book idea!