So I'm in South Africa now. Sitting in the Joburg airport, headed to Cape Town.
Everything kind of happened real fast and then all of a sudden I was here. Then things kept going real fast and now all of a sudden I've been here almost 3 weeks, which have seen a lot of stuff I need to write about. So why haven't I?
I've been vainly holding out hope that I might finally get my own domain up and running, but I'm using a HORRIBLE hosting service that has made the whole process mind-bogglingly difficult, and I just haven't had the time to sort it all out.
Sort it out. That's a common phrase down here, which I like. Say I owe someone some money - "I'll get you sorted out next time I see you." Something like that. I like it. Others I'm digging are "Pleasure." They say that instead of "You're welcome," except they say it with their distinctly beautiful South African accent. I might not get the accent right, but I'm adopting that term too. One that I'm not adopting, because it was already a part of my normal vernacular, is "Howzit?" as in "How's it going?" There's no "going" involved here, just the "Howzit?" and it seems to be a very accepted form of greeting around here. I didn't use it much in the states, at least not verbally, but definitely online, and I'm using it plenty here, and it feels great for that first 5 seconds of the conversation where they say "Fine thanks, and yourself?" and then I start talking with my American accent and they realize I'm not from here. I'm also brushing up on a little Afrikaans, but I'm trying to figure out how it fits in society here - whether its really considered the language of the oppressors, or its generally acceptable, or what. Its hard to tell - I think most blacks speak it but I get the impression its out of a historical courtesy or perhaps necessity.
So there's that. One small facet of assimilating to the new culture. I'm a minority now - the country is about 80% black and 10% white, and when you leave the metropolis, that number starts to skew even further to the extreme. Most people you'd interact with speak at least some basic English, as would be expected, the level of comprehension declines in a fairly correlated fashion with the level of economic success.
Economic success. That's an interesting one here. I'd estimate about 20% of the population have something of the sort, and that number includes most of the 10% of the population that is white. It seems like a country with promise - given its recent history - if they could find a way to create the jobs that are so desperately needed here, you get the feeling that they could quite quickly pull themselves up by their bootstraps.
In the meantime, there's the driving community and the non-driving community. You pass them on the side of the street no matter where you go or when you go there. Its two very distinct cultures, where race is only the first difference, to be sure. More on that soon.
Weekend 1 was spent going down to Joburg to visit Brian and see the Apartheid museum. Weekend 2 was spent going to Madikwe Game Reserve in northern ZA (they call it "Zed-A" here, abbreviated ZA, rather than SA), where we were just south of Botswana. This weekend I'm off to explore Cape Town and the surrounding areas with Brian, and do some shark diving. So not much spare time to write, but I plan to finally have a weekend in Pretoria next weekend. Then its off to London, then Nairobi, then back here but off to Kruger National Park...
This website just isn't going to get set up. 3 weeks in and I still haven't sent out the "Hey I'm in Africa follow me on my new blog" email to everyone. We shall see. I've got Apartheid pics up on Flickr and will have the Safari ones there soon. Everything beyond that is just hopes and wishes at this point. But at least I've written something, now.
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"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."