Saturday, January 17, 2009

South Africa trip, Week 1, part 2

So when I last left off, things weren't looking so great. But they quickly made a turn for the better. The YMCA I'm staying in is in the hood, true enough, but there are also more people here. More people here means more people to help me figure out where things are, take me around town, to the movies, to the beach, etc. And we are really close to the water. I can walk to the beach or walk to the harbor for lunch, where they have a nice lunch special for about $3 at a Thai place. Where in the States can I eat on the water for $3? And this YMCA, unlike the other, provides breakfast and dinner, so that's 2 meals a day I don't have to worry about getting. So not so bad after all.

Also, I am instantly more popular here. I'm foreign and exotic (unlike foreign and hated, as in black foreigners from other countries with the recent rise in xenophobia). In the African countries I have visited, men are more aggressive than in the States. While I have to be cautious, it also means that if ever I need someone to help me with something, I usually don't have a problem getting that. Women, too, are warmer and friendlier. In fact, people just help me out quite a lot here and I just meet warmer and more friendly people. I am a shy person by nature, and introvert actually, and I am more than satisfied if I have a couple of social events a week (too many mentally strain me). So I have been more than satisfied here.

I went to see the new James Bond movie at night. I went with the only 2 white guys in this whole building, but none of us are speakers of a South African language, so we are a natural group. There was a Kenyan guy who was here when I first came, but unfortunately he left just a few days after I arrived. Which is a real shame because he was also a little older than these univ. students (like me) and we got along really well. Anyway, one of the white guys has a car so we were able to go out at night. Otherwise it can be kinda dangerous unless you have a large group. Even still I thought about car jacking, though it's not so bad here as in Jo'burg. In fact, someone was telling a funny (?) story about his friend who was attempted-car-jacked. He said they broke the window and tried to drag her out the window! It was funny because it shows that car jackers in Durban have no idea what they are doing. Why didn't they break the window, open the door, and push her out. He said when she told the police what happened, they laughed at the whole thing!

Then I was invited to a musical theater production. It was in the township of KwaMashu (this is where they put black people to live in crowded areas that were close to the city so they could easily commute work for them). The building it was in didn't even have a complete roof. But the performers were magnificent. Apparently they were 1st in a regional competition of 45 groups. They did 2 plays, one of youths being sent to prison and the other on village girls tempted by false hopes of wealth and glamour into leading lives of prostitution that lead them away from their families and put them in situations where they could be raped or abandoned by their pimps once they got pregnant with their babies. Yep. I'm amazed I understood so much considering I don't speak Zulu and it was 85% in Zulu. Here's a bad video. I'm not sure why it's appearing like this since my videos from this camera never looked like this before. Maybe it's something about Webshots but I'm having trouble with Photobucket now. I'll fix it later if I can. Though it's all pixelated, the sound is still good.

Anyway, I see I am going to need a part 3, but that might have to wait a bit. I'll come back to finish the report soon.

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