by Katie Scott via thesouthafrican.com
Sometimes it takes a foreigner falling in love with South Africa and sharing their perspective of our beautiful country to really open our eyes to what is right in front of us.
Dennis Jonsson first ventured from Sweden to South Africa to “tick Africa off” his travel to-do list five years ago. Today he calls Cape Town home, is about to have a traditional Xhosa wedding, and spends his days promoting South Africa to Scandinavians and tourists from all over the globe.
“Life here is exciting,” says Dennis. “Nothing is predictable. South Africa surprises me every day in different ways. It can be a new restaurant, culture, event, animal, business opportunity or a wonderful view that blows me away.”
Interestingly, Dennis’s family and friends back in Sweden were thrilled about his move to South Africa.
“Lots of Swedes dream of living somewhere else to escape the Swedish weather,” he explains. “Luckily for me there are lots of other things to enjoy in South Africa besides the weather!”
And Dennis sure has enjoyed and explored many of South Africa’s nooks and crannies. His top three travel highlights include surfing the West Coast, horse riding in the Drakensberg, and hiking Wolf Cracks in the Cederburg.
“The diversity in this country is truly remarkable considering the tropical feeling you get on the Wild Coast versus the dry areas like Cederberg and the Karoo.”
His most memorable safari experiences took place in Pilanesberg, Madikwe and Kruger, while St Lucia’s hippos traipsing around the village hold a special place for him.
But South Africa took some getting used to he admits, particularly the slowness of things.
“In Sweden some people get upset if they just missed the subway and they have to wait 2 minutes to get the next one. Internet, paperwork and just getting information in general in South Africa were some things that I had to adapt to.”
One piece of advice Dennis happily ignored was South Africans telling him to be very careful with everything and anything in South Africa.
“I’m happy that I didn’t listen as that would’ve kept me from some of the most amazing experiences I’ve had in this country. I learnt to be street smart during my days of traveling and that has always kept me safe wherever I’ve been.”
Now Dennis makes a living selling lifestyle experiences to Scandinavians through his website MyChoice. His aim is to “de-dramatise South Africa as a destination”.
“South Africa doesn’t have to be a trip of a life time every time you visit,” he explains. “With quicker and cheaper flight solutions, South Africa could become a place that people go back to more than once.”
Now with clients not only from Scandinavia, but also Germany, France, Italy and the US, MyChoice acts as a local South African host providing expert service while showcasing the awesome lifestyle one can enjoy in South Africa.
“We do our outmost to make our clients feel like locals rather than tourists when they spend time in South Africa.”
Their video communicates the brand better than words.
“For all we have done and seen together there’s still so much more to look forward to with her, which makes her a rare find.”
The two are set to marry and are planning to have a traditional wedding in Port Elizabeth and a western wedding thereafter in Cape Town.
“Leading up to the weeding I will go through the lobola process and other cultural aspects of getting married to a Xhosa lady. All this is very exciting to me.”
Dennis continues: “Until now we haven’t really had any major cultural challenges. It’s rather the opposite since both our families have been forced to broaden their horizons.”
Not only has Dennis decided to settle permanently in South Africa, but he also holds great optimism about the country.
“Every country goes through ups and downs and South Africa is no exception. Many are pessimistic but I have also met so many South Africans that truly love this place and are willing to stick with it during the bad times. Those are the people that will turn this negativism around and make this country a better place for all of us.”