Today’s Culture with Travel interview is with Bridget Williamson of TheWanderingBridge.com
Tell us a bit about yourself! Why do you love travel? How do you think travel unites us or teaches us more about the world?
Ever since I can remember I’ve always wanted to travel, I’m fascinated with seeing new things and discovering new worlds. Travelling to a new country, especially one so different from your own, opens your mind up to a whole new world. The best part for me is the sense of freedom I get when travelling, it almost allows me to think that anything is possible.
Can you tell us something about the culture in South Africa and why did you decided to stay there?
I was born and have lived my whole life in South Africa, it’s home. While I’m keen to travel the world and explore new countries, I have a feeling South Africa will always draw me back. There’s something so special about the people of this country, while we’ve gone through (and still are going through) some really tough times, we still manage to come together. We have a fighting spirit.
What surprising aspect of culture do you love about South Africa (or your specific town/city) that travelers may not be aware of?
Probably how willing people are to welcome you into their homes, and feed you.
Which dish do you feel best represents where you’re specifically from? Share a picture and tell us why you love it!
A braai (South African term for barbecue). South Africans absolutely love to braai – chicken, chops, steak, boerewors (South African type of sausage), ribs, you name it, we’ll braai it. I love it mostly for the social aspect, it brings people together to chat, share food and chill out.
Growing up in South Africa, what’s something that you believe makes it unlike anywhere else in the world?
How absolutely beautiful the entire country is. There are so many amazing places to visit around the South Africa, and I’m constantly amazed at how beautiful it is. We’ve really got it all – pristine beaches, vast mountain ranges, winelands, bush, highveld, savannas and city life.
Talk about the role of family in your life. What does family mean to you? Which family values are valuable to you?
Family is extremely important to me. The most important thing is being there for each other – being available to help out whenever needed. We also always keep each other updated on what’s going on in our lives. Especially when travelling, I get obsessed with making sure I can let my mom know that I’m still alive and doing well.
Art and dance can tell a deeper story about local culture. Tell us the story of a specific artwork or dance that has a meaning for you. Share a photo, if you can. (It can be anything from street art to a festival to a painting to architecture to woven art work, to woodworking, a family heirloom, etc.)
I’m obsessed with street art! Every city that I visit around the world I’m always on a lookout for awesome street art. There are some amazing graffiti artists in Joburg (my home city) that have their artwork spread throughout the inner city. There’s one part of the Joburg city, that is actually quite grungy, where an artist has painted huge zebras on the wall. I’m not sure the actual meaning of the piece, but I love it as it reminds me about the amazing wildlife that we have in our country – contrasting the two worlds of grungy city life with the wild bush.
Languages not only give us the power to communicate, but also can unite us across cultures. What’s something you love about the multitude of languages spoken in South Africa? Share a favorite saying you have, or teach us something in your native language.
Oh wow, we have 11 official languages! We really have such a diverse country, which means that there’s always something new to learn. I’ve lived in SA my whole life, but am constantly learning new things about all of the different cultures and languages in the country. A lot of South African’s speak a variety of languages and mix up different languages in a single conversation, we also have a few different versions of hello – howzit, sawubona, aweh, heita, dumela.
What local spot in your city/town do you love most? Why is it personally important to you?
I love the Botanical Gardens in Joburg, they are so peaceful and relaxing. I love getting outside, feeling the grass under my feet and sheltering under a big tree – you forget about all of the craziness happening outside.
Who is the most inspiring person in your life? In which ways does this person inspire you?
I’d say my boyfriend. He inspires me to live life the way I want to, and to never give up. He’s also so laid back and easy going and always open to experiencing new things and meeting new people. He’s a great travel buddy, as he encourages me to always be open for new experiences.
Unfortunately, stereotypes exist in the world. What are some common misconceptions about South Africa? What is considered disrespectful in your culture that visitors should be aware of?
The common misconception is that South Africa is so dangerous. Yes, we do have a high crime rate but the same things can happen to you here that can happen to you anywhere in the world. You always need to be vigilant when traveling, no matter where you go. As long as you remain careful while traveling to South Africa and do your research to learn the do’s and don’ts, you’ll be fine.
Follow Bridget’s adventures on The Wandering Bridge, a travel blog covering travel adventures, tips and stories along the way.
South Africa is home, but the wanderings are slowly reaching further fields.