Wednesday, September 14, 2011

One Year Later

View of downtown with Jacarundas in bloom
So, here we are, the first anniversary of my arrival in South Africa.  It seems time to write down some of my observations about this country.

Pretoria (Tswane) is a town with many different peoples.  There are the locals plus the very large diplomatic community.  Still, Pretoria’s white population is largely Afrikaans.  The Afrikaners have been very friendly to my husband and me.  They are quite helpful and also very free with their opinions.  It is always insightful to hear what they have to say.

My husband and I do not get much contact with black South Africans.  Most of our interactions are formal and work related.  I have found out that it is very important to spend a couple of minutes asking how the person is and about their family before conducting business. Even on the telephone with a customer service person.  Anything else is considered rude.  Aside from these pleasantries, in my experience, most black South Africans do not like to share.  Other black Africans are talkative and tell me all about their culture, customs and opinions.  I am wondering if this is one of the legacies of Apartheid.

American entertainment is worldwide.   And people believe it is real.  Hey, it must be true if it is on a reality program, right?  How about those talk shows? Luckily, there are enough Americans here that I can point out that we are not all like that.  Jersey Shore is very popular here; I get asked about it frequently.  I hear Jerry Springer mentioned a lot too.  And everyone believes Americans are all rich.  I think that is a worldwide myth.

South Africans like babies.  I realize a lot of the world does but my little girl gets fawned on everyday by all kinds of people.  Many Americans act like they would rather not see or hear about your baby unless they have one themselves.

South Africans do not put up good signage.  They seem to think everyone already knows where everything is.  If you are going to an event you are lucky to get an address.  Even festivals may not have signs—or if they do, it might not be near the entrance, turn-off, etc.

You can get most things here that are available in the States.  You will pay, though.  About twice as much for toys.  Maybe 50% more for clothes.  Cosmetics and toiletries are also almost double the price.  Automobiles and gas are crazy expensive.  Restaurants and services are generally cheaper.  Private medical care is excellent and cheaper than what you would pay in America.

South Africans are proud.  And they should be.  They have accomplished a lot and they have a beautiful country with an excellent climate.  They are beginning to be environmentally conscious.  The wine here is very good.  We have met many, many entrepreneurs.  They are also realistic about their challenges.  There is still incredibly high unemployment.  Crime is violent.  There is a lot of theft.  But the mood of the country is mostly optimistic.

Speaking like a local:

American                            South African (English)

Trunk (of a car)                   Boot

Crazy                                     Boss

Sweet or nice                       Lekker

Cart                                       Trolley

Elevator                                Lift

Soccer                                   Football

Aaaw! or Cute!                    Shame!

Really?                                  Is it?

Gas                                        Petrol

Truck                                     Bakkie

Sneakers/Tennis Shoes     Tekkies/Tackies                               

Sheesh! or Geez!                Eish!

Barbeque                             Braai     

Ganster or Hoodlum          Tsotsi                   

In a while                             Just Now

In a minute/Soon               Now Now

Traffic Light                         Robot

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Jewelry Making with the kids

My boys and I embarked on another art project.  Most of the projects we do really have to take no more than a couple of hours or they loose interest.  Jewelry making can be a very satisfying short term project.  In this case we decided to make birthday presents for my sister.  My seven year old boy came up with the idea.  He loves any excuse to visit the bead shop.  
At the bead shop, he and I collected our beads while my oldest ran interference with the baby.  I was selecting beads to make a bracelet similar to one I 've made before that is much complimented.  My boy just knew he wanted to make a long, blue necklace.
After dinner, we settled down to make the jewelry and my nine year old boy decides he wants to make something too.  We dig around my stash and he decides to create earrings.  (I have never made them before.)  I am quite proud of the boys.  Hope my sister enjoys her new jewelry.