Posted by Bill Boyd on Aug 11, 2017

Our South Africa Journey and
Hosting by Members of the Rotary International Travel and
Hosting Fellowship (ITHF)
and Friendship Force International (FFI)
February 9 through March 13, 2015
by OWR Rotarian Bill Boyd
        Bill and Sandy Boyd at Monkey Land
We embarked on our  “South Africa Journey” in early 2014.  In addition to the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara Sunrise, my wife Sandy and I both belonged to The Friendship Force of Santa Barbara (FFSB), affiliated with  Friendship Force International (FFI). Through our affiliation with FFI and the Rotary International Travel and Hosting Fellowship ITHF, we planned a month long excursion where we were hosted by a Friendship Force group in Capetown for one week and 6 South African Rotarians and their families for 18 days throughout South Africa.   The remaining 6 days were spent on safari in Kruger National Park.
FFI is an international organization founded in 1977 by then President Jimmy Carter with his wife Rosalyn as honorary Chair and the Reverend Dr. Wayne Smith, a former missionary to Brazil. They realized how exciting a home stay in a foreign country could be as a way to meet and get to know people and as a step to understanding a foreign culture.  The primary goal was to further world peace.  To further this goal, they created a non-profit, Friendship Force International.  The organization’s purpose is to arrange and facilitate, alternating home-stay visits by ordinary citizens who would travel as domestic ambassadors to other countries.
FFSB had chosen South Africa as one of its potential destinations, and in early 2014 was given the opportunity to be hosted for a week by the Cape of Good Hope Friendship Force (CGHFF) organization in South Africa. Our Exchange Director began working with the CGHFF Director on the details of an exchange.  She also negotiated a deal with Lion World Travel, for a post-exchange visit to Lukimbi Safari Lodge in the Kruger National Park area. Sandy and I decided to participate in the Cape of Good Hope exchange, and the Lukimbi visit.  We choose to stay in the Kruger National Park area, for two extra days, at a sister Indube Lodge, located in the Sabi Sands private game reserve area.  Sandy wanted to have more time available to photograph animals in their natural setting.
Given that we would be spending about only a couple of weeks in South Africa, we decided to explore the opportunity to extend our stay on both ends of the planned trip.
Sandy and I were at the time, long time members of the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara Sunrise.  One of the objectives of Rotary International is the advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.  With these ideals as a backdrop, what better a platform to explore expanding our South Africa journey.
We were also members of the International Travel and Hosting Fellowship (ITHF), a sub group of Rotarians who are committed to travel internationally and locally, and are willing to host or be hosted by other Rotarian ITHF members.  Initially there were 12 ITHF members in South Africa.  Sandy began with an email to all of them about our travel plans.  Five of them responded favorably.
As a result of Sandy’s email and a series of follow-up emails, the following was agreed to:
  • We would fly to Cape Town initially, be picked up by Joke Young, President of the Helderberg Rotary Club and hosted for 4 days in the Somerset West area.
  • We would then fly to Port Elizabeth, be met by Rotarian’s Bridget and Roger Carthew, members of the Kenton on Sea Rotary Club, who agreed to host us for 9 days (their suggestion) including a coastal adventure on the Garden Route.
  • After our Kruger National Park adventure, Rotarians Fred Kroone and Peter Dupen from the Durban area and the Hillcrest Rotary Club agreed to host us for four nights.
In response to an article by Sandy, published in the January 2015 ITHF Newsletter, a new ITHF member from Johannesburg, Carolyn Khoury contacted us.  She agreed to meet us at the airport, where we had a 9-hour layover, and show us around Johannesburg.

Summary of South Africa Journey
Rotarians Bill Boyd & Sandy Grasso-Boyd

Genesis of the Journey
  • Friendship Force Visit to Cape Town, South Africa
  • FFSB Visit to Kruger National Park, Lukimbi Lodge
  • Extension to Idube Lodge
  • Rotary International Travel & Hosting Fellowship Visits
Santa Barbara to Cape Town Journey
  • SB to LAX Airbus
  • LAX to Heathrow
  • Heathrow layover
  • Heathrow to Cape Town
ITHF Visit with Rotarian Joke Young in Somerset West (3-days)
  • Lovely upper middle class home, looking out toward False Bay
  • Visit to 3 wineries in the Cape Winelands
  • Helderberg Rotary Club and their weekend Craft Market
                         Sandy & Joke in the garden
  • President Jacob Zuma’s Speech to Parliament
  • Drive along the False Bay coast
  • Betty’s Bay Penguin Colony
First Impressions of South Africa
  • Shanty towns in the areas referred to as the Townships
  • High unemployment about 40%
  • Entitlement culture of blacks after Apartheid
  • Still 3 obvious classes: blacks, colored and white
  • Politics in disarray
ITHF Visit with Rotarians Roger & Bridget Carthew in Kenton on Sea (9-days)
  • Flight from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth
  • Airport greeting and trip to Kenton on Sea
  • Lovely upper middle class home in nice neighborhood near the ocean
  • Exploring Kenton, coastal walk, Rotary projects; including a community garden and walkway to the beach
  • Poor Man’s Game Drive and Sibuyu Nature Reserve
  • Exploring the Kenton environs, Port Alfred, Nature Reserve, Pig & Whistle Pub
  • Kenton Rotary Club meeting
Kenton on Sea Community Garden                                    Sandy,Bridget,Roger and local family    
  • Addo Elephant National Park
  • Garden Route National Park & Storms River Gorge
  • Journey to Plettenberg Bay
  • Birds of Eden & Monkeyland
  • Plettenberg Bay & Jeffries Bay
  • Flight from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town
Impressions of South Africa by Our Hosts
  • Mixed feelings about future of the country
  • Continuing loss of technocrats and government experts
  • Fear for future of their children, employability
  • Concern about illegal immigrant impacts
  • Deterioration of government services, electricity
Cape of Good Hope Friendship Force Visit (7-days)
  • Meeting our Santa Barbara Friendship Force Group
  • CGHFF colored club, middle class, many teachers
  • Home hosting with Rose Isaacs in Fairways, mixed race community
  • Welcome party at Roses’s house
  • Journey to Cape Point & Boulders Penguin Colony
  • Kirshtenboch Botanical Gardens, Rhoads Memorial & Groot Constancia Winery
  • District 6 Museum, Cape Town Mayor’s Office, Bo Kamp & Signal Peak
  • Drakenstein Prison & Spice Route Winery
  • Cape Town Harbor & Robben Island
  • Constancia Primary School, Table Mountain & Company Garden
Impressions of South Africa and CGHFF by Our Hosts
  • Many similar concerns as expressed by our previous hosts
  • High focus on crime prevention and security of their homes
  • Good education not resulting in available good jobs
  • Exceptionally friendly giving and caring club members
Kruger National Park & Lukimbi Game Reserve (3-days)
  • Experience leaving Cape Town Airport
  • Mupalanga Airport to Lukimbi Game Lodge
  • The elegant 4 star Lukimbi Lodge
  • Our first afternoon game drive, with guide Craig and spotter Absalom
  • Elaborate evening dinner, warthog, ostrich, lamb and beef
  • 2nd day morning game drive, game walk to the river, afternoon game drive (elephants, hippos, rhinos, giraffes, leopards and more)
  • 3rd day morning and afternoon game drives (elephants, lions, rhinos, African buffalo, kudus and more)
  • 4th morning game drive at Lukimbi (lions, black momba snake, African buffalo, rhinos and more)
  • Our Santa Barbara friends head for Johannesburg and Victoria Falls while we are driven to Idube game reserve
Idube Game Reserve (2-days)
  • Drive to Idube in Sabi Sands area
  • Lovely small chalet in 3 star Idube Lodge
  • Our first afternoon game drive with guide Rob the Ranger and spotter Mark (a wide assortment of wild life)
  • Knights of the Round Table /Dinner with lodge owner and family
  • 2nd day morning and afternoon game drives (hyenas, lions, African buffalo, giraffes, hippos Wild dogs and more)
  • Delicious healthy breakfasts and lunches (vervet monkeys stealing food, warthogs and antelope grazing on the lawn)
  • Relaxing swimming pool and suspension bridge to game hide
  • 3rd day morning game drive (lions, African buffalo, hippos, leopards and more)
  • Drive back to Mupalanga Airport and flight to Durban
ITHF Visit with Rotarians Fred Kroone and Peter Dupen in Hillcrest, Kwa  Zulu Natal (4-days)
  • Met at Durban Airport and driven to Fred and Dierdra’s lovely old home in Hillcrest
  • Drive through 1,000 Hills area and Inanda Dam
  • Ucalozi Community Center (sewing training & children’s day care) & Embo Craft Center
  • Peter and Greta’s home in the lovely Le Domaine retirement complex
  • Hillcrest Rotary Club meeting
Bill, Fred & Sandy                                                                    Peter, Greta & Sandy    
  • Midlands Meander, Mandela Monument & Karklout Falls
  • Drive through 1,000 Hills area, Kranskloof Gorge and Downtown Durban
Impressions of South Africa by Our Hosts
  • Mixed feelings ranging from major concern for the country and it’peoples future to hope that current challenges will be faced and overcome
  • Definite concern for their children’s future within the country, or that they will have to leave for greener pastures elsewhere
ITHF Visit with Rotarian Carolyn Khoury in Johannesburg (9-hours)
  • Layover in Johannesburg after flight from Durban
  • Met at airport and Carolyn helped us get our luggage stored temporarily
  • Drove to “The Cradle of Humankind” to visit site where earliest human remains were found
Sandy & Carolyn
  • Lovely afternoon lunch in south suburbs
Johannesburg to Santa Barbara
  • Joburg to Heathrow (11 hours)
  • 4 hour layover
  • Heathrow to LAX (11 hours)
  • SB Airbus home
Look for Part 2 next week with the video of our Safari featuring incredible wildlife and the follow-up to "Our South Africa Journey."
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