Monday, February 02, 2009

Cocoon life

As I've previously mentioned nothing bad has happened to us here in South Africa. That is, apart from being ripped off by a devious hotel (do not stay at the Protea Waterfront in Centurion, I tell you) where they make you pay for a suite, but put you in an ordinary room and then as a goodwill gesture, because the internet is not working, 'upgrade' you to a better room (this also taught the hubby to read all documents properly...). Some of the staff was nice though, but truly gave us oodles of insight into the various meanings of the phrase we have already come somewhat too used to: 'I'll call you right back madam/sir'. Kind of like the meanings of 'ahorita' (in a little while, meaning anything from 2 seconds to in a couple of years) in Mexico. 

Anyhow, nothing bad has happened was and is  the starting point of my post (I just enjoy random rants). We are hitting the half year mark in a short time, our stuff still isn't here (another day, another rant), but we have been very fortunate and really have never come closer to violence or any such thing than hearing about it from our friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. There was that police operation gone awry near where our friends run  their business, and some people got killed (we think the bad guys), another friends' house has now been burgled quite a few times in the past year, my husband's colleague's sister in law was shot and killed in a carjacking turned nasty, and literally every single person we have met so far has at some point had some sort of unwanted visitor in their house, had their cellphone stolen at gunpoint, or endured an attempt at some sort of check fraud. Unfortunate but true. 

We have listened to all of the stories and the warnings (even Lonely Planet says to talk to the locals about security) and really tried to take from them what we can, so that we could avoid something similar happening to us: we live in a secure neighborhood, lock the car doors while driving, do the infamous 360ยบ at every stop light, keep walking outside to a minimum, don't blindly follow the GPS, and definitely don't flaunt what we have. I mean, I drive a tiny Daihatsu, and regularly look like a hobo. So far, we are good, but we are also beginning to feel like our caution might just be getting the better of us. I wonder if this caution isn't keeping us from properly experiencing South Africa? Are we living the kind of cocoon life, I used to make fun of in Mexico? 

I have been to Soweto, which was truly an awesome experience (also because I was there with someone who actually lives there), and that is more than a lot of the locals round our way can say. I have been to downtown Jo'burg - granted because of the GPS (which seems to be on crack sometimes) and completely by accident - which again is not something people from the security estates normally include in their day. I really hope the inner city facelift succeeds, since it is the kind of environment I would frequent, if it was safer. But, I still can't help feeling I'm missing out on some of the sides of the rainbow nation

We have a great bunch of friends, who love showing us the good sides of South Africa and telling us about the not so good, but I am also realizing that this group we love seems awfully pale. I can't help but wonder how our experience would change if we actually made some friends with other kinds of backgrounds. 

Argh, to hell with being politically correct. I think we should make some black friends.


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