August 9, 2006

  • When I first got to Cape Town, I used the ATM to pull out money. A guy came up to me convincing me that I needed to put my card
    back in to finish the transaction. He kept insisting—even though everything was appearing to be processing normally. Let’s face it—I’m
    Jen Nathan and if there is one thing I am quite a pro at, it is using ATM and credit cards. It was daylight and I was in a nice area so I was
    not nervous. I just thought this seemed fishy so I shooed him away. When I was reading a little guidebook later on, they mentioned
    notes to people traveling here. One was ‘Do not let strangers assist you in ATM transactions.’ Sadly, I can only guess that the guy
    actually did have bad intentions. It’s easy to feel offensive when denying people their offer to help. But common sense definitely takes
    precedence over that.

  • The public toilets at the V&A Waterfront are great. Instead of seat covers, they have seat sanitizer that you put on the toilet seat. The
    sinks there are also pretty darn cool as they aren’t really sinks. They have faucets and slanted table tops. The water flows down the table
    top. How fun!

  • There are security guards on the street around-the-clock. If there is anything that goes down, they immediately call the police. At least
    this was the case in De Waterkant.

  • Cape Town is also known as ‘The Mother City’. Our taxi driver told us that is because it takes nine months for anything to happen.

  • Oudtshoorn is in an area of South Africa called the Klein Karoo. This translates to ‘Little Karoo’. It is a semi-desert area. I know this
    information does not mean much. I just really enjoy saying and reading the word ‘Karoo’ so I wanted to put this out there.

  • We learned a lot about tigers while we were working at the Cango Wildlife Ranch. A few things in particular: there are only 500 white
    Bengal white tigers left in the world; all of these tigers are in captivity so that poachers don’t get to them; poachers sell all of their parts
    to the Chinese for big bucks – the Chinese then use these parts (everything from the claws to the penis) for healing powers.

  • Afrikaans is widely spoken in Oudtshoorn. Certain words became very easy to pick up on. There were a few words that became my
    favorite things to say…

  • Thank you very much – ‘Baie dankie’ (sounds exactly like ‘Buy a donkey’ – I seriously could not get enough of saying this. I said it to
    everyone. All the time. Even for the littlest of things. Maybe this is why many locals laughed at me???). I also loved the word ‘lekkur’
    which means nice/cool. By the end of my time in Oudtshoorn, ‘lekka (that’s how it sounds)’ often came out of my mouth. And then there
    was ‘moora’. This was their way of saying ‘Good morning’ so it requires a rolled ‘r’. I am incapable so the word was a challenge and most
    people had no idea what I was saying.

  • There are eleven official languages in South Africa.

  • The World Cup is in South Africa in 2010. It is not a secret that there is a lot of work to be done. You can already see that they are
    getting excited about this. At the same time, you will hear every person say that nothing has gotten underway yet in terms of facilities,
    infrastructure, etc.

  • Robben Island has more in common with Alcatraz than just being a former prison on an island. It also requires buying tickets in advance
    because it books up and sells out early. We found this out the hard way.

  • We all know that a group of buffalo is a ‘herd’ and a group of lions is a ‘pride’. Now I have learned that a group of rhino is a ‘crash’ and a
    group of giraffes is ‘journey’.

  • The people of Zimbabwe that I met were great. When I told one guy that I did not have any money to buy anything (I truthfully did not
    as my wallet was in the van), he was totally sweet and then asked for our email addresses. At first I just took his. Then he wanted to give
    me something so that I could remember him. He gave me a 500 Zimbabwe Dollar note. Because of how extremely horrible the
    Zimbabwe economy is, that is probably worth a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a penny…but it was so nice of him and
    will remember how I obtained it.

  • I feel like I need to read more about Zimbabwe. Now there is a country in complete economic turmoil. I was told that the amount could
    buy them a house not too long ago now can buy them a mere couple loaves of bread due to the inflation.

  • When I go to a new country, I try my best to speak at least a little bit of their language. It took a while to get used to the fact that I only
    have to speak English as that is the main language (though I did learn a few Afrikaans words). At first I felt a bit disrespectful. It finally
    sunk in that it is not just my language…it is their language, too.

  • The name of the capital of South Africa has been changed from ‘Pretoria’ to ‘Tshwane’ (meaning ‘we are the same’). Tshwane is the
    official name though the central business district will keep the name ‘Pretoria’.  

  • While Seychelles is technically ‘Africa’, it is totally easy to forget that you are, indeed, in Africa. (I guess similar to the way that you can
    forget that you are in ‘America’ when you go to Hawaii.)

  • Zambia has bright blue taxis. They are the color of Smurfs. I liked it.

  • I think it is safe to say that South Africa is so far different from any other country in Africa.
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