Ok so I'm not content with yesterday's post because I feel like I didn't really explain anything lifestyle related. I wanted to wait until I feel like I can talk about it with confidence but I guess I can start somewhere. Also this coming week mon-fri is orientation for the university so there will be things going on every day.
Cabs- cabs here are the major form of transportation. They are relatively cheap and are always available. there are a few major cab companies that you can call anytime (not Sundays?) to arrange a ride basically anywhere. It's less expensive if you just catch a cab on the street than calling for one at the last minute. When they drop you off, you can also tell them what time to be back and they'll be there. Taxis basically look like regular cars. I've been in some taxis that have a meter which calculates the price based on distance/time. Other cab drivers will just estimate it or rip you off…but it'd still be cheaper than a cab back home. As for transportation for orientation events and organized things through our program, we have 2 drivers that pick us up in a van and bring us everywhere. They're either exactly on time or very late. also there are rides that are called taxi buses…we took one earlier today. They are always driving around and they are small vans which are meant to fit about 15-16 people but they will shove as many in there as possible. They ride around honking their horn until people wave them down. Then they stop abruptly and open the door and you have barely any time to get in until they fly off again…I felt like I was on cash cab…it's insane. Also cheap.
House- Cape Town is absolutely way more sheltered than I expected. I had a vision of living in extremely slummy neighborhoods with no running water and little food. Wrong. This place is a very modern city and almost everything you can imagine is readily available. There are quiet a few homeless people on our street but it's something I'm already used to. I have 4 keys to the house, which is surrounded by an electric fence. One key is to the front gate; another to the door before the door; another to the actual door; and another to my room. I lock my room everytime I leave and we're told to put our computers on our desk rather than our beds because if someone manages to break into the yard they can open your window and reach in with their hands and grab your computer off your bed. Nothing about this house is fancy at the least but it's still nice. There is plenty of hot water in the showers but the house itself is freezing. I feel that the heater in my room is only really useful if I press my face against it to feel it working. I have my own room and have yet to unpack and I live with 6 other people. They're an avocado tree in our front yard and I've already picked one off and will hopefully make some guac tomorrow…mmmm. We have a gardener that comes once a week and a cleaning lady that comes a couple times of week…I have yet to meet them.
South Africans- those that are not here to rob you are here to help you. People are so friendly and know at least a little bit of English. Extremely high unemployment rate and everyone pretty much just tries to get by.
Safety- dicey issue. It's very hard to keep in mind during the day, because it truly feels as if you're in some location back home (minus the awesome views). During nighttime however, it clearly becomes dangerous. People hang outside of bars because there are always touristy crows that are a huge target. It's advised for Americans to walk in small groups of 3-4 and talk very quietly without drawing attention. You also wanna split up your money…maybe put some in your shoe and some in your pocket or bag. I feel that it's not hard to be careful. Beggers will constantly approach you and not leave you alone. You can walk away from the in NYC but here they will continue trying to pry you for money/food/anything…they ask you to "support them". At nighttime some people are also clearly very drunk or on a lot of other drugs…which I feel sometimes makes it easier for us to get away from them because they have no idea what's going on. Dan was telling us it's possible to 'bargain' with someone who's trying to mug you…like tell them that you really don't want them to take your bag but they can have the little money in your pocket. Weird. Also I'm already annoyed with the fact that we're advised to take public transportation everywhere. Yes we can walk during the day, but even so, taking a cab would be better. After 9 or 10 at night we are not to walk back home and must always call a taxi. Of course it's a matter of safety but it's a hassle to think that walking around is really that dangerous. Dan told me that if there's one thing he can't wait to get away from is the constant need for public transportation.
Dan gave us a quick tour of the school this morning and it was amazing. It's weird to think I'll be in a real university campus since I'm used to a tiny school. Our official tour is later this week. We also went to the "Waterfront" today, an extremely touristy area right by the ocean. We ate lunch and then met Kevin for our first "class"- at the movies. We watched a movie about female justices in the African court system. I can't really tell you whether or not it was good, I fell asleep for the entire thing. I was please to hear that I didn't miss much though. I did read all the articles for today that dealt with the topic and it sounded interesting. I can already tell it's very unlikely for Kevin to choose a boring movie, but he'd never seen it before either. The movie theater was at the mall which was extremely fancy. White people everywhere. There were a bunch of American brand stores as well as top designers…it was weird. Most everywhere grabbed lunch at a restaurant inside but myself and couple of others ate right by the ocean…it was sunny and beautiful and I can't wait until it warms up. It did not feel like I was in Africa at all…nothing has really felt like I'm in African yet. I also bought my first batch of groceries today. However there was very little time so I only grabbed what I recognized…I'm gonna have to spend serious time at the grocery store so I can figure out what's good here. Although everything is safe to eat, it's still better to buy meat/fruit/vegetables at some stores rather than others.
We also had a "house talk" today amongst ourselves. I hated every second of it because I find such meetings unnecessary but I understand that people are just trying to get the vibe of what everyone else is like. However we spent about half an hour discussing dishwashing and what each of us is like when it comes to confrontation…blah blah blah.
My feet are constantly dirty and I burnt the fish which I made for dinner…I don't know why, I followed the directions exactly. Gotta go do dishes……