Sunday, October 14, 2007

South African Recap; Is This Third World?


Weird Foods Eaten:
- Scrambled ostrich egg, ostrich bacon (takes like chicken)
- mystery meat pita from street vendor playing middle eastern music.

Popular South African beer that went out of style in U.S. in 1975:
Carling Black Label

Death-Defying Feat:
Using shower that delivered electric shock when you touched hot or cold water handles.

Gym workouts: 5

Pounds gained from drinking beer and eating junk food: 3

Daily expenditures:
about $60 (food, beer, accommodation -- I always had my own room)

Extra expenditures:
- bungee jump: about $80
- sea kayaking tour: about $30
- canoe rental. entrance fee for national forest: $16
- gym: $6 to $14, depending on gym
- ostrich farm (can't remember, but it was cheap)
- cave tour (can't remember, but it was cheap)
- aquarium, snake zoo, dolphin show (all in one complex, can't recall price)

Total Expenditures for 17 days: under $1200

Weather: cold, damp, rainy about half the time
- temps between 40 and 60 farenheit
- locals say this has been one of coldest South African springs in a while. (first iceberg ever spotted off the coast)

It's an concern. None of travelers I met had a problem, but everyone was very careful and took cabs.

Towns visited:
- Cape Town (stayed in college party area of town)
- Oudtshorn (Nice remote area; visited ostrich farm and took cave tour)
- Storms River (Nice remote area in the middle of national forest; hostel was fun)
- Port Elizabeth (gritty little city; are I stayed in wasn't very nice. They had a poor excuse for an aquarium and an unimpressive snake zoo)
- Amakhala Game reserve (an hour from Port Elizabether; not sure of name of town.)
- Plettenberg Bay (nice, small beach town)
- Wilderness (that's the name of the town, very nice national forest on a small river, in the woods, near the ocean.

Dates: 3 (1 professional)

Mosquito bites: none

Colds caught: 1

Is This the Third World?

South African areas I visited had a lot of third world attributes, including:

1) Poverty
- children come up to you and beg for money. You can also see them rummaging through the public garbage cans. It's very disturbing.
- Many black people are very skinny
- "Townships" or shanty towns are visible on the side of major highways. These are the one-room, third-world shacks you see on TV featuring corrugated metal roofs and cinder block walls.

2) Crime
- Nicer neighborhoods, schools, public buildings, stores, all have barbed wire, electified fences, or some variation of a high wall topped with a flesh-gouging metal top.
- hostels, tourist offices, all warn you about crime. One hostel owner was telling me about a couple of British guys who got robbed in broad daylight in Cape Town last year. She said people don't report these crimes because the police are not that interested in pursuing crimes that can't be prosecuted. (by the time the case goes to trial, the traveler is out of the country.) She also said a popular hike in Cape Town, up Table Mountain, is best taken with a guide because local crooks have taken to holding people up on their way up the mountain.

3) Lots of undeveloped, unspoiled land
- drive on major highways and you'll see beautiful beaches, mountains and plains.

4) Low prices
- Food and accommodations less than half of a vacation in the US or Europe.

5) Limited Public transportation
- Buses are pretty much it

First World Attributes:

1) You can drink the water
2) you can eat pretty much anything you want.