Monday, February 2, 2009

hate you, love you RSA

It's been a while since I last blogged, but a lot has happened in the last 3 weeks. This is the short of the long..

Was sick on my way from Maputo to Johannesburg. No I don't think I got malaria, but had fever for 2 days. Got myself self-tested for malaria... damn why are these things so hard to take?

Nothing much exciting in Joburg. Tons of gated houses. Everything has a ridiculous amount of security. Took the train from there to Cape Town instead of PE or East London because it ran everyday, instead of 2x a week. The Shosholoza Meyl overnight tourist train ROCKS. Amazing, reasonable price. Have never seen SO many stars and galaxies at night so low to the horizon.

Spent almost a week in Cape Town recuperating from being sick. I think my immune system just got worn down by the travel.

Yes crime is rampant , even the local afrikaaners we met get caught up by it. One of the advocates (their version of a lawyer?) got his thumb slashed on Long street - the party street - here in cape town. Also, Some of the tourists are really stupid about carrying around super expensive cameras around poor people. What are they thinking? One Dutch girl I dragged into a cafe because she was aimlessly staring in to space sitting outside while some homeless black woman was picking at her nice cell phone, camera...etc. It was just not safe. I like most of the Afrikaaners i've met. We stayed out late drinking with a bunch and they are pretty cool. Lots of good stuff but I won't write about it here.... Few americans here, only probably 10%

I did the tourist thing in Cape Town. A little Californish here. So suddenly I don't miss home anymore. Robben island was definitely worth it. I am embarrassed to say that I haven't even been to Alcatraz in my own town. Did the Garden route to Jeffrey's Bay, Ooutdshoorn, and Swellendam via the Baz Bus in 6 days. Knysna is Nice for old people, Wilderness is AMAZING. wish I had time to stay there. Incredible service, and cheap. Did things I'd not imagine doing - like surfing?!, caving?.... ok I passed on the bungee jump. Wish I had more time on this route. Words cannot describe the beauty here. It is more beautiful, varied, and fruitful than the California coastline, IMHO. They put Napa valley to shame.....I would love to spend another month here.

It was damn worth it, every second. I traveled by Baz Bus and stayed at various hostels. Talk about Hospitality.... they really have it figured out for travelers down here. Why don't they have this in the States? The standards are pretty good here and cheap. During this season, there are tons of europeans that come down and its quite a bit less stressful with them here. Aussie and Kiwis are really pleasant to travel with.

The bills were also pretty sweet....

What I got for about 600 Rand (~60 USD) ?!

2 nights accomodation in a backpackers
A Ton of Laundry
13 Beers + shots + Brutal Fruit etc... (ok no i didn't drink this all myself)

RSA is really trying hard to not to be a 3rd world country and its very schizophrenic? - forward in some ways, yet backwards in others.

ATMS are in 11 different languages. wow.

They only like 1st world money at exange bureaus. They don't want no 3rd world country moolah from Mozambique, or Zim or Tanzania or Kenya.

The newspapers are a mish mosh of afrikaans and english. Like the titles of some articles are in English, but the article is in Afrikaans. Um. Translation please?

In some places like Fraanshoek, you only see white people and it looks like Europe. Same with Gauteng
In Khayleshita, it's a township, huts, towns, ridiculously dirt poor black people. There is also a big economic divide among the black people.

In Cape town it is so very cosmopolitan.

I think they hate us one language geographically clueless insular English-only speaking Americans.....but like the rest of the goodies we make?

And then there are stupid things.....

For example : Today I waited 1 hr in line at the exchange bureau to change Rands into USD. And then when I got to the window, I was told by the teller:

" I need to see the ATM receipt for the Rands you want to change to US Dollars"

I said, "I don't have the receipt, but you see here my passport says USA citizen"

She says "No I can't change your rands because we need proof that you have brought money into this country"

The South African law requires that you show the ATM receipt for the Rands?!?!?!?!??!?

Oh god did I want to explode.

I find out later that there's tons of money laundering going on in RSA because of the millions of Zimbabwans and Congolese pouring into the country because their life just sucks up there. Hard living, bad economic times. And you know what is even more messed up is that the black people say they don't mind white people coming here and buying stuff and competing for jobs, but they have their own xenophobia amongst the black people - the native south african blacks feel entitled to jobs and houses above other black immigrants...... there's a lot of conflict there and hate, apparently... BUT they think it's ok for me to be here and take jobs and houses, etc and all that... I'm not white but anything light skinned to them is a non-issue. Black people here tell me they are racist among themselves... they still value skin color, like how light skinned you are puts you into a different higher class category.

It is confusing and since I've been here I've had a mad identity crisis. I'm Asian I get the "Konichiwa!!!! Ni Haw!!!!!" But I don't identify with Japan or China. I identify completely with being American. Say wha? yeah you got that right, bro. Obama Country. It is hard because Japanese tourists travel a lot and the name calling doesn't stop when I walk down the street - Yo sista, hey Asian sista, hey China girl hey I wanna talk to you....I wanna have a drink with you.. the Constant Picking- in East Africa it was worst, but I still get it once in a while here in CapeTown.

I was really mad when someone accused me of forgetting my language because I did not speak Mandarin.For the 100th time, I couldn't take it anymore... so I turned around and screamed, REALLY YOU KNOW OBAMA DOESN'T SPEAK TO AMERICANS in KISWAHILI !!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Despite all of this --- Three weeks ago, I felt like I had about enough of Africa. I could go on and on but no time left to write!!

But, since being here in SA now part of me wants to stay longer, and I don't want to go home.

I know, crazy. I have a love-hate affair with South Africa.

Next stop, Namibia. We'll see how that goes =)

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