The first thing most people say to us when they find out we’re from America is, “Have you been to (insert some beautiful site or tourist attraction here) yet?! You haven’t truly experienced Cape Town ’til you’ve been to (refer to previous set of parenthesis)!”
We’ve been told that in order to get the full South African experience we must try Durban bunny chow, climb Table Mountain, go to Robben Island, go to a braai, swim with the sharks, take a ride in a minibus, and go on a safari.
While these are all wonderful and thoughtful suggestions, I am thinking I should have perhaps asked for a similar list entitled “What Not To Do While In South Africa.”
Since nobody gave me written instructions on such matters, I’ve decided to write them myself. It’s a work in progress, but here are my top two:
1. On having your purse stolen.
Con: Dealing with a foreign postal service. For as frustrating as it is to wait in line at the post office in Lansing only to be told the package you’ve come to pick up has been mailed to your house, it is far more frustrating to be in a foreign country and find out that though your new credit card and medication have cleared customs, they’re still sitting there. And, of course, you can’t pick them up from said location because that would be way too easy, so you must instead wait until the people at customs decide to send your parcel to your local post office. So you make many phone calls from your friends’ phones (soaking ‘em dry of minutes on a nightly basis) informing the kind person on the other line that you leave town in one week and need your belongings by Monday.
Pro: You will be put on hold for such lengthy periods of time that you are bound to expand your South African music repertoire. You may even begin to sing along with the You’re On Hold Playlist by day 3, and your roommates will really love you for it.
2. On Getting Sick While Abroad.
Con: Self-explanatory. Just as ketchup and pop taste different in South Africa, the flu feels different, too. Maybe it’s because you realize you’re 8,256 miles from home and have no mom nearby to make you soup and pour Gatorade down your throat (though, I must say, Selina is quite a good stand-in) or maybe it’s because your insides haven’t stopped doing somersaults since Thursday. Regardless of the whys or hows, be sure to take your Vitamin C, wash your hands like you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and rinse off your fruits and vegetables before eating them because let me tell you from experience, your bed will be the last place on earth you will want to be on your last weekend in Cape Town.
Pro: Being stuck in bed will prevent you from having to take out a small mortgage to support your irrational spending habits while walking down Long St on a Friday and Saturday night. A weekend in will also give you adequate time to catch up on all of the South African soap operas you’ve fallen behind on. Further pro: the television commercials will undoubtedly have you laughing so hard that you will forget you’re sick in the first place.
I know we were advised against having guests over to stay the night, but I figure since it’s our last Saturday night in town, and I’m sick, you guys wouldn’t mind too much.
So, meet my new friends: Disprin, Zinc, Echinacea, and Loperamide Hydrochloride.