Saturday, January 13, 2007

Back in South Africa

We had to spend the night in Dar after Zanzibar in order to catch our 10:30AM flight back to South Africa. It was a little sad leaving Tanzania, it meant that the long adventure of taking public transportation from Joburg to Zanzibar was over. But it's nice to be back in Melville for a few nights.

For one, I can walk down the street without saying hello to everyone. I actually have to supress the urge to say "Jambo, Jambo, thank you, I don't need the CD, no thank you, I'm allergic to nuts, Jambo Jambo Jambo.." We stayed back at our Melville guesthouse, 33 on First, and had nice long showers. The streets are paved so it really cuts down on the constant dust and dirt that sticks to you. It may take a few more days to get all the dirt out of my fingernails but I'm making progress on that. And the beer is cold! And clocks are all set at the correct time. Not since being in Joburg last time did I see a working clock that was anywhere in the three hour vicinity of being correct. And I don't have to shoo flies off my food all the time. And water comes in bottles that are smaller than 1.5 liters. In Tanzania you have to lug around a 1.5 liter of water all the time. The taxi that picked us up from the airport had gas in it. And I feel allright eating meat again. I had been avoiding it as much as possible since Malawi because I was horrified and grossed out by what a peace corps girl told me. I'll spare you but if you want to know, come ask me when I get home.

Kathy and I had been talking about Mc Donalds since the train ride. Obsessing about it. I am embarrased to say that I had a Mc Donalds binge this morning, having the big breakfast AND hotcakes. It was fantastic! Am I so weak that I can't go three weeks without Mc Donald's? I'm pathetic.

We bought newspapers yesterday. Kathy bought the British one and I bought the Zimbabwean one. These are the headlines in the Zimbabwe paper, for real:

Strike cripples public health sector
Zim nurses flood South Africa

(both about lack of doctors, health care and how they are all fleeing to other countries)

No happy new year

(just a sad letter to the editor about the state of things, salaries vs bus costs, poverty, etc)

(Zimbabwe) Dollar drops as demand soars

(I remember the peace corps workers in Malawi telling me that the goverment just prints more money when they need it - there's no Greenspan-like guy here..)

Education for all - a distant memory

(kids can't afford school)

the paper was all sad articles - I felt like I was reading the onion, not in the sense that they were funny but in the sense that the articles weren't real. I've always been one to give a concerned read or nod to poverty stories, then I pretty much go on my way. I always respected what Bono and Oprah do, but I never got all carried away about it. And not to sound like a cliche, but going to Africa has sort of changed my perspective. Sometimes you have to see it for yourself, It's just unbelieveable what happens here. I always thought "I could go into the peace corps, no problem - sure, send me anywhere..." but after hanging out with the Peace Corps workers in Malawi, I have so much more respect for what they do. I'm not even sure I could deal with it for two years.

Kathy left for a short safari today. I wish I had time to go on a little safari too - I'm jealous - but I'll have to save that for next time. Safari wasn't really either of our main reasons for coming here, we wanted to see Africa, whatever that was going to mean. And I feel like we sort of did. It's funny, when I told people I was going to Africa, most people said "oh, so you're going on safari!" and were confused when I wasn't. Come to think of it, if someone comes all the way to Africa and does a fancy all-inclusive safari, has ALL meals and transportation taken care of, you aren't really seeing Africa, you're seeing exotic animals and some scenery. Still a very cool thing to do. But take a 4 hour minibus of 28 people, and have to ask for directions, and figure things out, and then talk to me about Africa. And there is so much more Africa to see. I mean South Africa is nothing like Tanzania which is nothing like Morocco or Egypt, which I've never been near and know nothing about. It's just such a huge and fascinating continent, and deserves like 6 months and not the paltry 3 weeks I gave it.

Today I went to the Apartheid museum, which was great. It was a LOT of information, so I had to buy a book when I was done just so that I understand it better. There were great videos and photos at the museum. Hard to believe all of this happened such a short time ago. Sort of like the 1950s and 60s in the United states - but in the 80s and 90s.

Well, tonight for my last night I think I'll have some thai food, maybe try the south African wine too. Last night Kathy and I celebrated with some mojitos and went out to a few places here in Melville. We talked to a few South African guys about why they have such big security fences here. I still don't entirely understand - I mean the security/electric fences here are just out of control - but maybe SA Michael can explain that to me when I get home.


Anonymous said...

Have a safe trip back, Schirmy. I know you'll be "sad" to come back to real life, but we're excited to see you. Can't wait for a Nordies Hallway Lunch and to hear all about your other adventures. I hope you get bumped to first class again.

Kate C said...

Have a great trip home. I can't wait to see you, see your pictures and hear all of your stories. Save next Saturday (I'll be back from crazy California).

I think the trip you made is amazing. I could never do it and I have so much respect for you and your travels.

sara said...

you could do it Kate! I wrote about a lot of hard parts but we really did spend most of our time sitting around, drinking beer and being lazy, shopping and sweating.

Looking forward to having a big night out with everyone next weekend, whoever's around!

Anonymous said...

i'll be around! can't wait to see you girls and hug you and hear all your stories! i envy you! love, trisha