I can’t believe it has been two months since I have updated my blog – especially as I started the year with such great hopes and dreams for at least weekly – OK well at least fortnightly updates….perhaps I really have settled into African time.
The year did have a very busy start with various trips overseas, planned and not – but I still think I might be slightly affected by the African time phenomenon. Last week I went shopping with a friend from Hong Kong who was in town. It is so wonderful to see old friends and pick up exactly where you left off and in this case our gorgeous kids did the same – anyway the story is really about the shopping. I took her up to the local mall to stock up on all the things that are run of the mill but tricky to come by in Hong Kong – running gear as an example and some surf gear for her family (not too hard to come by but very exxy and everyone has the same!). We waved goodbye to our five children and a very experienced YaYa (their nanny from HK who traveled with them) and toddled off to the Mall –
Great – only five minutes to get here – how wonderful. (startled that transit time can be so quick)
OK this is what I am looking for – x,y,z
OK (I said) we will try these shops and if we don’t find anything go to these places
The pace she set off at nearly knocked me off my feet – whizzing around the shops – it made me realise that when I first moved here that is actually how fast I moved. I realise that I now have the slower feet shuffling movement that would get me knocked off my feet in Central (HK). I also didn’t panic when she wanted to run from the Country Road counter in Woolworths to get something else from another section before the pricing problem with her previous item was resolved, I knew she would have plenty of time, the problem would still be there when she got back, I was right. Makes me think – I may not have that many ring in the middle of the night friends yet – but I am slowly becoming a local.
Anyway – about my brother and mother’s visit in February. It reminded me of the early posts I wrote about people’s reaction to us moving here and how ‘local’ I have become in other ways – not just time.
Firstly just a pause to say – Yay! Vistors! – Yay!
Now to say to everyone else – come on over.
When I was arranging to pick up my brother at the airport – 6 foot 3 and not the fullback physique he used to have – he said – Don’t leave me hanging too long. Really, I told him, the only thing that is likely to happen at Durban ‘International’ (one Emirates flight a day) Airport is you are going to die of boredom – it is in no way unsafe, in my mind and I have not googled the crime stats thereof – not worth it as there is a new ‘real’ international airport opening in less than a month so I’ll wait a few months then check them out.
So the night arrived and I went to pick him up – I was waiting when he emerged from the arrival area – so too quick really because we had to pause outside for him to have a smoke.
Once in the car we took off and I locked the doors – Why are you doing that?
Well – a lot of other cars do it automatically now and I am trying to get used to doing it as people say I should.
Has anyone ever tried to get into your car?
No – never. Just RELAX….
I think he may have also been surprised when we arrived at our complex and there were no armed guards with Uzi’s to be seen but just a few friendly fellows trundling the gates open for us.
Is this it?
Yes it is – not too scary right?
And so it continued – everything that I was used to doing every day and take for granted (please note I have no special security precautions in place apart from living in a gated estate and locking my car doors when I remember) was an amazing experience for him.
First of all the car guards – didn’t quite get them.
Why do you need them?
Good question – they generally put all the groceries in my car for me and then guide me out of my parking spot successfully so some Rand and a Coke on a very hot day is only polite really.
Why do they have them here (at the Woolies) and not there (pointing over road to Spar)?
To be honest I think its because it is more lucrative working here in the Woolies car park but have never asked. No it is NOT because I am more likely to be carjacked in the Woolies car park (or at least I think its not – no reports so far)
Whenever I got him to relax a bit I would do something to once again upset his ‘alertness’, like at a supermarket in Cape Town he was walking towards the door with his wallet and money still in his hands so I said – put your money away before we go outside.
Why? (jumps back slightly from door)
The same reason as every country in the world – someone might see it and think it looks easy to get.
The point is – it made me realise that South African crime rates are very high profile overseas – everyone tends to think that if you come here something terrible will befall you.
I know that there is crime and terrible things do happen – I do not wish to take away from those that have had things happen to them – but I do know more people who have been mugged in the Sydney CBD on the way to work (two) than I personally know who have been victims of crime here. I put the personally in because my husband’s office is in the Durban downtown area where the crime rate is a little higher than the leafy suburbs we are lucky enough to live in to the north – and as regular readers know I don’t have that many local friends – yet.
Coincidentally after I had started writing this post a Twitter discussion arose on crime in South Africa from those that had been affected by it and others that knew people who had been affected by it (none of whom are currently living in South Africa). It reinforced to me that I should spread the word about our positive experiences so far.
Crime and its impact was something that I was terribly worried about when making the decision to move here, especially when you have to consider not only your own personal safety but also the safety of your children – your most precious possessions. I can happily say in my experience here so far I have not been put in a position where I have been concerned for my safety or that of my family.
After last week we also now have three sets of live visitors who have been, seen and survived to tell the tale.
With the World Cup only 59 days away I would say I am more worried about the Aussie tent city in Durban and any repercussions from that on the general mild -luke warm response Saffers generally have for the Aussies on my ability to keep befriending the locals.
In the meanwhile – plan a trip, come on over – its really an amazingly beautiful place & I’m here (that bit is just for people I know – other people just enjoy the place). My brother’s coming back he says, so if he can survive a return trip – no need for you guys to worry!