(This is part 2 of The Bucket List Birthday Trip. Click Here to read part 1.)
Arriving at the Johannesburg airport in South Africa, Susan and I scanned the throng of drivers holding signs and iPads™ with names of their guests, we spotted a cell phone with our names displayed. Behind it were the brightest eyes and biggest smile I’ve ever seen. Khuliso Ranwedzi greeted us warmly and introduced himself as our guide and driver while in Jo’burg. His iPad™ had lost power so he used his cell phone to post our names. It was small, but it worked!
As you likely know, South Africa (officially The Republic of South Africa) is the southernmost country in Africa. Many of us in the US think of Africa only as a poor and undeveloped country but ‘Jo’burg’ as the locals call it, is the largest city in South Africa and one of the 50 largest urban areas in the world.
Since SA is a popular tourist destination with 3,5 million visitors annually tourism is an important industry. They take it seriously and go out of the way to help visitors have a grand experience.
Khuliso was an amazing example of hospitality and warmth! Not only was he a wealth of information about the area as he drove us to our hotel, he was friendly, entertaining and quickly became someone we’d trust to take care of us while in Johannesburg. He asked about us and our flight, our plans for the trip and showed us photos of his wife and daughters. Since Susan had a bit of a cold he told her where to easily find a pharmacy without even going outside since our hotel was attached to a mall.
Arriving at the hotel we could tell that he was known and well-liked by the doormen. This was seen repeatedly throughout our time in Jo’burg as he shepherded us through our itinerary. He always laughed and joked with other tour guides we encountered and it was clear that he was admired and respected.
His laugh and bright smile were a welcome sight each morning. Rather than feeling like we were with a tour guide that was following a script about his country, we felt like we were being shown around town by an old friend who truly loved his city and country and wanted us to know and love it, too.
Khuliso was a child during much of apartheid and was coming of age during the battle for its end. He lived through the racial division, injustices, violent protests and Nelson Mandela’s release from prison and election as the first black president.
Of course, knowing our own country’s segregated history and the fight for equal rights, it’s sobering to realize this was so recent in his country.
Susan asked Khuliso if he ever remembered a time of peace and happiness in his country. After pausing a moment, he replied, “We have hope that someday there will be.”
And yet, despite all hardships, Khuliso is one of the most joyful, positive examples of living with gratitude I’ve ever seen. An example for us all.
What about you? Have you ever met someone who exudes joy and is an example of living with gratitude?
Up next: Johannesburg
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