Thursday, November 8, 2012

Adopting South Africa: Pieces of Learning

It’s not the country we’ve been living in for the last three months, but we are now calling it home until visas are figured out…Here are some random tidbits from our times in Jo’Berg:

- South Africa’s currency is called the rand (pictured below).  Currently, because of exchange rates, we look at the price of something in rands and approximately divide by eight to get a dollar amount. (Shopping is never as fun when heavy math is involved!)

-Johannesburg calls itself “the lightning city.”  Apparently other cities have also claimed that title.  But after a large thunderstorm one night, we would argue Johannesburg deserves the title.

-Woolworths is like a SuperWalmart here. Clothing, jewelry, clothes, sporting goods, housewares, and groceries. Giant and found in every shopping center.  American stores you may recognize there?  Toys R Us, Gap, and Cinnabon.

-South Africa often does not feel like Africa.  Its infrastructure, services, and goods availability make it often feel like a Western country. We awoke one morning to a car accident on the street outside our hotel.  A traffic light had been knocked down in the process.  The next morning, a new functioning traffic light already stood in its place, wired and cemented in overnight.  I can't decide if they would have been that quick in America.

-The word for “pitcher” (as in a pitcher of water) is “jack.”

-Johannesburg is the world's largest city that is not situated on a body of water.

-  After urban blight became a problem in the downtown sections of Johannesburg, many of the large institutions that were once housed there moved to Sandton, an upscale suburb (in which we stayed) that is more modern..  Sandton is known as "Africa's richest mile," and as a refuge of white flight, though in our time there we found it quite diverse.