What do you say to yourself?

My car has gone in this morning to my local mechanic for some rather major repairs that simply had to be done. I am told that when I get it back, it will be like driving a new car. I sure hope so! I also really hope I will get it back today as I am on Mom’s Taxi duty this evening, having made arrangements for all the taxi duties for the day.
The lady who runs his office for him is in her early fifties, and is one of those really attractive ladies who always looks ‘well put together’. I find it quite daunting being in her presence 😛 But she’s a really great gal, and whenever I find myself there we always end up having lengthy conversations.

Last week I learned that she got divorced two years ago. So of course our lengthy conversation this time was pretty much based on ‘being single in our town’, and how important it is to have girl friends to hang out with, especially ones you can trust to ‘have your back’ if you do decide to venture out. She told me that she has a great lady to do stuff with, and that they’re always looking to add to their ‘girl’s group’. That they usually get together one night on the weekend just to alleviate any loneliness they may be experiencing, and have some good fun. She promised to let me know the next time they did anything, so that I could join them. And she messaged me the next day with an invite to a local craft brewery pub called Table 58, where they would be dining the following evening. Unfortunately, I had to decline as I had already committed to plans with my daughter.

This morning Leigh (the lady who works for the mechanic) was quite insistent that I need to join them tomorrow evening. They are having a braai at her friend’s house, with two other couples. She claimed that it would be rude of me to let her down two invites in a row 😛

Now if you don’t know what a braai is… it’s very similar to an American barbeque. It’s the same sort of concept where we grill/cook meat over an open fire. Most of these fires are wood-burning, and so if you visit here and someone asks you to come over and ‘burn wood’ it may have two meanings: it could mean to either just sit and watch the flames and drink beer or brandy; but most times it means they’re inviting you to a braai, and you need to bring the meat you want to eat to be cooked on the fire for you. In 2016 I wrote a post mentioning some amusing and ‘odd’ things in my country, with the above braai explanation, and if you’re interested then you can read it here.

My response to her invite was, ”Maybe. I’ll see.” Which opened me up to some prodding from her side, and me inevitably blurting out, ”But I don’t know anyone else, and I will just be so awkward”. And she stared at me in amazement. The rest of the conversation pretty much centered around the following :

I am not a person who has an issue with doing things alone – going to the movies, going out to eat, going for coffee etc. I can stand up on stage and perform in front of an audience; I can address a large group of people without anxiety. Many of my friends say to me, ”I wish I could be as confident as you are.”
But when it comes to more intimate settings? That dreaded self doubt looms its ugly head and I struggle – as in, just thinking about it, makes my palms sweaty and anxiety creeps in.

And I laugh at myself. Every time.

We truly are our own worst enemies, and I know I am not alone when it comes to being critical of myself. I have learned over the last year (because I became curious about my silly reactions to the ‘more personal’ settings) that it has to do with self-compassion. Yes, that really is a thing. And the more I have learned about it, the more I realise that it certainly is a ‘failure’ of mine.
I have a more than generous portion of compassion, acceptance and patience…. with other people! Too often, I forget to apply these things TO MYSELF!
And I know I am not alone.

The strangest of all (or perhaps it’s a part of the application process) is that I still feel like a worthy soul, and I do not doubt that I am loved. Even with the self doubt saying things like, ”You won’t fit in; you don’t dress as well as they do; your make-up is shoddily applied in comparison; their figures are even better than yours and they’re older than you!”
At the same time as all those horribly negative thoughts were bouncing around my head, it didn’t make me feel like I had no value. So perhaps it’s not such a failure, right?

My neighbour came to fetch me, and we spoke about the invitation on the way home, and in the driveway when we got here. He listened, with a smile on his face, and in his 63-year-old wisdom said this to me, ”If you go to the braai, dressed like them and made up like them, would you be comfortable?”
Nope. I would not.
He then said this : ”You would feel just as awkward, and like you didn’t fit, because that isn’t you. Who you are, and the way you are, is what makes you beautiful. And you are a stunning woman! So you’re not ‘supermodel material’? If I was younger, I would still date you. Because you are not like them!”

He reminded me, yet again, that I am uniquely me – and I may not be to everyone’s taste in many ways, AND THAT IS OKAY!
People! Women and men! Be originally and unapologetically yourself! The only person you need to be better than is the person YOU were yesterday! An original is worth far more than a copy!
And each and every one of you has worth!

I will go to this braai tomorrow, in my jeans and sneakers. I will wear my smile (because it looks great on me 😉 ) and my ‘slapped on make-up’ and just be myself. Because no one is better at being me than me. And I AM a beautiful me 😉


Wonderful Words

In my last post I addressed some interesting South African foods. The one before we looked at the differences in the words we use here in South Africa, as opposed to words that are used in America.

There are just so many of these wonderful words, and silly differences, that I could probably write posts for a month and still not have them all covered. But I will make small efforts, and today’s post is one of those.

Takkies  – pronounced ‘tacky-s’
I sometimes forget myself when chatting with my friend in Kansas, and every now and then I revert to South African words. I sent her an email, saying I was taking the children shopping before the schools started up again, because they needed school shoes (they wear uniforms here) and takkies, for sport. Thankfully, the use of the word ‘sport’ helped her to identify what I meant. Takkies is the South African word for sneakers/trainers.

If we’re talking slang, then this is most definitely the word for a gullible human being – but I don’t think our country is alone in that line of thinking.
When I offer my daughter a sucker for consumption, I am not offering her the opportunity to eat a gullible human being (yes, cannibalism is illegal here too), but instead I am offering her a lollipop.

Shebeen – pronounced ‘sha-been’
This is the name given to an illegal drinking establishment. If the bottle store (we call it that, you call it a liquor store) is closed, and you’re feeling mighty brave, then you can always find alcohol at a shebeen – although it’s almost double the price of what you’ll pay at the store. It is, after all, what has to be considered a ‘convenience outlet’. The brave part comes in because these are normally located in rural locations, in the middle of an informal settlement, and ‘the party’ is always more than a little rough.

When you go to the store and are paying for your purchases, they will ask if you’d like a packet. If you have too many items to carry out, this may be a good idea, because what they are offering you is a disposable plastic shopping bag to place said items in. We have to pay for our packets (it’s not a lot, but still), and so it’s always a good idea to store them up at home, and take a few with you the next time you visit the store. I also happen to think it’s better for the environment if we’re re-using as much as possible as opposed to purchasing them each time, just to throw them out. And while I’d like to say that I do this all the time, I am afraid that being human tends to show up in my life sometimes, and I forget!
You can purchase a rather costly canvas shopping bag at the store though, which will last a lot longer than the plastic packets do.

Now now
This is more of a South African expression than a ‘word’. When we say, ‘I’ll do it for you now now’, we mean, ‘I’ll do it for you soon’. We’ll be doing it sooner than ‘just now’ (see the end of this post for that expression’s explanation), but won’t be doing it immediately.
As mentioned before, us South Africans are a strange bunch when it comes to time.

Donga – pronounced ‘don-guh’
When I was still in junior school, we paid a visit to a local game park, and stayed the night. That night, armed with torches, we left the campsite for a night walk, to enable us to hear ‘the sounds of the bush after dark’. Halfway down the dirt road, we were all told to please keep to the right, as there was a huge donga on the left. The strange thing about this word is that it is a Zulu word (one of the African languages of our country) and it means ‘wall’; but when using the word ‘donga’ you are actually referring to a huge ditch / gully type hole. So if I ever blog about a huge donga in the road, or in my yard, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Lekker –  a slang word which has Afrikaans origin, pronounced ‘lack-er’
This has nothing to do with being in lack of anything, so if someone tells you your shirt is lekker, please don’t be offended. The English translation of the word is ‘sweet’, but when we use it in a sentence, or as an exclamation, we’re pretty much saying it’s ‘very nice’. When I was in high school, I used this word a lot – it was cool; I was young; slang was in. Thinking about it now, I am actually surprised at how little I have used it in the past decade. This does not mean I am no longer young and cool. 😛 A lot of South Africans still use it though, so you need to be made aware that it’s not insult, should you ever visit 😉

Stoep – I’m not quite sure about explaining how to pronounce this one, so you can listen to it here. The Afrikaans language is a lot like Dutch, and so the two are often ‘together’ when it comes to sounds and translations – but if you scroll down and listen to it in Afrikaans, you’ll hear that the ‘oe’ sound is a bit shorter.
The direct translation refers to a ‘sidewalk’, but in South Africa we actually use it to describe a front or back ‘porch’. So if someone invites you to come and have coffee with them on the stoep, they don’t mean you’ll be sitting on the sidewalk sipping coffee. They’re referring to their porch – although if they’re trying to be posh (or just prefer being purely English) they may invite you for ‘coffee on the patio/verandah’.

I think I’ll finish today with this:

You’ll hear a lot of Afrikaans being spoken in a lot of parts of South Africa. And there’s a phrase you’ll hear a lot, because us South Africans can be quite polite when we want to be.
It’s the Afrikaans way of saying ‘thank you’ – ‘baie dankie‘. It’s pronounced ‘buy-a dunkie’, but when said quickly to ears that are not accustomed to the words, it can often times sound something like ‘buy a donkey’. My step mother is British, and she says that when she first came to this country, she was confused as to why everyone always told everyone else to buy a donkey, when a simple thank you would have sufficed. Eventually a friend explained it to her, and her confusion disappeared, and has laughed about it ever since.

So I am explaining it to you, so that if you come and visit, you do not feel the need to seek out a farmer to purchase an animal 😉

Can you speak American?

A year ago, almost to this day, my daughter was watching yet another American movie that had some dancing in it. She again announced her hearts deepest desire: to attend a school like Juilliard and become a dancer. She currently has lessons in three styles of dance, and is very good. But I could never afford a school like that, or the costs involved with getting us there for her to try either. So all I can tell her is to keep practicing, keep dancing, and be dedicated – and maybe one day she will have her dream. She’s ten, and there’s time.

She has added a few other dance schools to her list, and our discussion prompted the retrieval of that list, and a request to google some of them. I didn’t have anything that needed my immediate attention, and my daughter usually trumps all anyway, so I agreed. We spent the next hour googling, reading and watching. And then the question came that horrified me, “But mom, do you think I could speak American?”

In that instant, my heart stopped and I wondered if I was so useless at being an educator to my children that my own daughter didn’t know that English was the language spoken in America, a country I love. Now, in my house, when my children ask questions that I don’t fully understand, I always say three little words.
“Please explain yourself.”
This time though, seeing the horrified expression on my face was enough, and she quickly added, “I know they speak English, mom. Most of them anyway. What I mean is, some words are different. Do you think I would be okay there?”
And then it made sense to me.

I’ve already explained the difference in spelling here, and in that post we also discussed that when you’re in South Africa, a ‘barbeque’ becomes a ‘braai’. We’ve watched enough American movies, and I’ve learnt so much from my American friends – knowledge which I take every opportunity to impart on my children – that I could, in confidence, reassure her that we would be okay. In fact, I often find myself ‘speaking American’ in small ways – but most especially when I speak to an American 😉 So here are some small differences, which you may or may not already know:

Petrol / Gas : I touched on this here, but will repeat – when we refer to gas, we’re talking about the stomach kind. We put petrol in our cars. And we go to the garage, or petrol station, in order to do this – not the gas station or filling station.

Robot / Traffic Light : I have the pleasure of knowing an American who lives around here. She finds this particular one very amusing. She says that when she first arrived, she kept looking around for Rosie the Maid – the robot from the cartoon ‘The Jetsons’ – on our street corners. She actually missed seeing a landmark upon her arrival, because on the drive in someone told her, ‘If you look to the right at the robot, you will see….’, and she spent all her time looking for ‘the robot’. So when we say robot, we actually mean traffic light!

Sweets / Candy : Around here, we all know that candy refers to things like M&M’s and jelly beans and all those sweet things. We also know the saying, “Like taking candy from a baby”, and of course we’ve heard of ‘Halloween candy’. But we still call it ‘sweets’, not candy. When we go to the shop (store) I’ll ask my daughter if she wants some sweets – and she’ll pick out jelly babies or something like that. To ask if she wants candy will take her a while to figure out what it is I am actually offering her.
By the same token, the word dessert is not used very often around here – although a restaurant will offer you a ‘dessert menu’. We refer to it as pudding – and by definition pudding can be either savory or sweet. But where I live, we are always referring to the sweet variety, and whether it be cooked, baked, chilled, served hot or cold, with or without ice cream or cream – it’s pudding 😉
A chocolate/candy ‘bar’ is simply a ‘chocolate’.

Tomato Sauce / Ketchup : The first time I heard the word Ketchup, I was about fourteen. I don’t remember what the exact scenario was, or who exactly said it, but someone at school used it in an oral speech for marks in our classroom, and it threw me. He said, ‘It wasn’t ketchup on his shirt, it was blood.’ It sounded like he said, ‘catch up’, and because I was so unfamiliar with the word it made absolutely no sense why his shirt would be trying to catch up, and have blood on it. This particular guy lost marks for using that word which made him rather angry, because as it turns out his wealthy family had just returned from a holiday in America, and he was very proud of his new word. I was a bit embarrassed to be approaching this ‘cool kid’ and asking what it meant, but I had to. When he explained to me, as if I was the least intelligent being in school, stating that it was the American word for tomato sauce, I was not only fascinated, but relieved that his little speech now made more sense. It helped me greatly when I watched an American movie a few months later, and didn’t need to be concerned about the hamburger and it’s need to have to ‘catch up’.

Costume / Bathing Suit : One morning, I phoned (called) my ‘local’ American friend and asked if she wanted to go to the beach. She did, so I told her to grab her costume too. There was silence on the other end of the phone, and then a big sigh. She told me, ‘I don’t have any fancy dress clothes yet, I have just arrived.’ I laughed and made the adjustment, ‘I meant your bathing suit’, to which she laughed and we hung up – and never did get to swim anyway because the water was too cold that day. We’re certainly weird, because we also use ‘costume’ when we’re talking about dressing up for a fancy dress, or the outfit worn for a part in a production of a show/theater. I guess you have to think about the situation to know which costume we’re referring to.

Washing Powder / Laundry Detergent : I do not do laundry. I do, however, do copious loads of washing. I also spend time hanging washing on the line, and taking it off again, because tumble dryers are not very popular around here. We had one growing up, but I have never had one in my home as an adult. The one we had when I was a child in my mothers house was seldom used, due to its large consumption of electricity and our ridiculous rates thereof – which are worse now. It goes without saying then that I purchase washing powder, not detergent.

Chips / French Fries : Again, we’re weird. If I tell you I ate a packet of chips, I am usually referring to eating a bag of potato crisps. However, I may also tell you that I made chips to go with the meat we had at supper time, and I am referring to something entirely different. In this case, I would be meaning French Fries. If you go to a take-away place around here, and ask for chips with your burger, you’ll get french fries. But if you ask at the local store where they keep their chips, they’ll lead you to the display of countless bags of crisps. Unless you say frozen chips…then you may just wind up in the frozen section where you can buy french fries to purchase for home and cook yourself.

Scones / Biscuits : My new friend was telling me the other day that he needed to eat something, but wasn’t sure he wanted to wait the twenty minutes or so it would take to bake the frozen biscuits he had. Wait, what? Frozen biscuits? Of course, Google is my best friend in cases like this. A quick search revealed to me that he was talking about something we call ‘scones’. Although we don’t buy them with a frozen option, I don’t think. If you go out to tea around here, and you ask for a biscuit, you will get a cookie. Because that is what we call cookies here. It’s a biscuit. Even an Oreo cookie – it’s referred to as either simply Oreo’s, or you may be asked if you’d like an Oreo biscuit with your coffee. So a cookie is a biscuit, and a biscuit is a scone 😉 Tea or coffee with fresh and warm scones, served with jam (jelly, see further down, please) and cream, or cheese, is usually a delightful option when out and about.

Cooldrink / Soda : When we ask if you’d like some cooldrink, we’re not referring to a drink that looks ‘cool’ (although you will be offered ice) and may be sporting an umbrella in a colorful sugar rimmed glass. We just mean soda. Plain and simple. I have to also mention here that if we ask if you would like some lemonade? You’re getting soda, and it’s usually Sprite. I have never tasted ‘proper lemonade’ of the lemonade stand variety – pink or yellow. I really should try and make some one day, just to be able to taste. I think I shall add that to my list of things to do this week.

Serviette / Napkin : There’s a South African comedian who does a very funny example of this – but he can be rather offensive, and so I am not going to link him in here. But I’ll do a brief explanation of the difference in these words, to us. Over here, a napkin is shortened to the word ‘nappy’, and this is what we call a baby’s ‘diaper’. You change a baby’s nappy, but wipe your mouth with a serviette. So you can imagine how this can become strange for us if we buy takeaway food and get offered a napkin to go with it. How bad is your food?

How’s it (Howzit) / Hello : This is a funny one, because many South African’s use it. Although we say it fast and it sounds like ‘howzit’, and it’s usually meant purely as a greeting, as opposed to being a question actually asking ‘how is it’.
We also have a tendency to use ‘is it’ a lot – but not as a question. It usually take the place of ‘really’, or ‘uh huh’, and comes out sounding like ‘izit’.

Jam / Jelly : Around here, jelly is what Americans would probably call ‘jello’, so you can imagine how confused I was the first time I heard about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Google once again came to the rescue, and since I happen to really like peanut butter and jam sandwiches, I was happy with its definition.

Just now / Later : I often confuse my American friends when I use this term. I’ll say it without thinking and mention that I am going to fetch my daughter from school just now. This does not mean now, or immediately. It actually means soon, or later, or in a short while. But never immediately. Yes, us South Africans are a confusing bunch.

There are many more little differences that you may (or may not) find interesting, and I am sure I will come back to addressing some of them in a future blog post. For now though, I am going to give you a break from all the reading, and hope that you didn’t find it too boring. I need to think about going to the ‘shop’ ‘just now’. 😉


South Africa is where I hail from. You probably know this already.

What you may not know is that my country has 11 (yes, eleven) official languages, and quite a few unofficial ones. I am fluent in two of them, mainly because they were the two that were taught to me at school. We take English as a first language, and Afrikaans as a second language. Depending on which region/province you live in, you have the option of changing that second language to the African language of your location. When I started high school – Grade 8 – we took an extra subject which was the African language of Xhosa, which is the African language of my region. Admittedly, I don’t remember too much of this year of language studies, but do remember the basic words and so am at least able to greet someone and ask how they are in their native language around here. The problem comes in after this, because they assume I can speak the language and rattle off a sentence to me of which I have little to no understanding. This always results in laughter on both parts when I admit, in English, that what I said is about the extent of my abilities to speak their language.

I find it amusing typing blog posts on here, because I think the ‘spell check’ is set to American spelling. Yes, we spell differently. My friend in Kansas often teases me that we’re just wrong – I often think we are 😉 I do know that we spell the British way – and since I have some British blood in me as well, I guess I can’t be too upset about that.
We apparently like the letter ‘u’. It makes its appearance everywhere that it doesn’t belong! 😛 Honour, neighbour, labour, behaviour etc. And yes, these are now underlined in red in my editing 😉
We also prefer ‘re’ to ‘er’ – perhaps the ‘er’ makes us think of medical tragedies?
Litre, metre, meagre. Of course we ‘get it right’ when it comes to words like monster, disaster, sober, etc.
There also appears to be an interesting problem with Sammy Snake – the letter ‘s’.
We say defence, as opposed to defense; pretence as opposed to pretense.
There are many more differences, these are but a few examples. Isn’t it strange that we all speak English, and yet spell it differently?

The reason I addressed the languages (and then got a bit off topic with the spelling) is because I wanted to share an advertisement that is currently running on our television networks. I don’t usually like television advertisements – they annoy me and most times I am left wondering what the product had to do with anything I have just watched. This particular advertisement has me smiling every time it comes on though. I will post the link to it later, but will go into a bit of detail first. It’s an advertisement about foreigners who visit our country, and gives great insight into the quirky things about South Africa – mostly good, but also some bad, in a delightful and pleasing way! It’s an advert by an insurance company, promoting that you need ‘one-of-a-kind’ insurance in a ‘one-of-kind’ country. So this blog post is pretty much based on Sanlam’s brilliance!

In South Africa, especially if you’re doing a tour of the country, you will likely come across a sign that says ‘Hippo’s Crossing for 3km’. If someone ever shows you a picture they have of this, it’s real! I need to stress though that there are no hippos, lions or elephants in my backyard. (Although apparently, when I was about five years old, I told my mother there was an elephant living in among the banana trees at the bottom of our yard.) They also don’t roam down the street where I live, or sleep in the shade of the trees that line our main road.
The above may just be possibilities in North Africa, but I live in the South – and there are some very big differences between the two, which I may address in a later blog post.
The hippo crossing signs are in a town practically built on top of a wetland park, with an estuary that is home to about 800 hippos. So a hippopotamus roaming the streets is not actually a common thing either.
We do have plenty of safari type parks that are home to many wild animals who are living in captivity, and yet in such a way that the animals probably don’t even realize they’ve been captured, or in some cases, rescued. In two different directions from my home, both about twenty minutes drive away, there are animal ‘parks’/game reserves. At the one, I can have an elephant interaction, or just sip a cup of coffee and watch as zebra, giraffe and buck play on the hills not too far away. At the other, I can stand two meters away from the lazy Tigers, as they cool off in their pool, on the other side of the fence of course; and if there have been any new cubs born before my visit, I can go into the ‘cub cage’, with a member of staff, and play with them.
Two years ago, I had a six week old white lion cub, weighing approximately 60 pounds, lying in my lap. She was one of four cubs in the ‘cage’, kept there till they get a bit bigger and were more able to hold their own, for protection purposes. A cubs hunting instinct kicks in around this time though, so they only allow children in who are of a specific height or above. My daughter qualified; and since the cubs aren’t too dangerous, while my son and I held lazy cubs in our laps, we watched my daughter with great amusement as she played with one, and was being hunted by another. Of course the staff member intervened before the cub sprang, just in case.
We don’t have shark cage diving here in my town, despite the fact that I live at the sea. But if you’re up for that, it’s an experience you can encounter in the Western parts – Cape Town area.

In South Africa, we don’t barbeque/barbecue – we ‘braai’. I cannot find a way to explain how to pronounce this word, so if you’re interested you can listen to it here. It’s the same sort of concept though where we grill/cook meat over an open fire. Most of these fires are wood-burning, and so if you visit here and someone asks you to come over and ‘burn wood’ it may have two meanings: it could mean to either just sit and watch the flames and drink beer or brandy; but most times it means they’re inviting you to a braai. It’s commonly known as a ‘chop and dop’ – although the Afrikaans spelling is mostly used in a written invite – tjop and dop. And this means pretty much what it says – bring a chop/meat to braai, and don’t forget to bring a drink, or ten, depending who you’re braaiing with 😉

In South Africa, we have what we call ‘load shedding’. It has not been so common of late, which is a great relief. It is a huge bone of contention among our people. Basically, it is an interruption in our electricity supply to prevent overloading on the power stations. South Africans are frustrated by this because our country supplies electricity to other parts of Africa, and yet we are the ones who suffer interruptions. These interruptions can sometimes happen twice a day, depending where you live – and are usually for a two hour period. This is made slightly more frustrating by the fact that it is often at mealtimes – and in rush hour traffic times it can have disastrous consequences because the traffic lights are not working.

In South Africa, “The multi-billion rand minibus taxi industry carries over 60% of South Africa’s commuters. Generally speaking, these commuters are all of the lower economic class. Wealthy individuals drive their own cars for safety and convenience. The industry is almost entirely made up of 16-seater commuter Toyota HiAce buses, which are sometimes unsafe or not roadworthy. Minibus taxi drivers are well known for their disregard for the road rules and their proclivity for dangerously overloading their vehicles with passengers.
I have to chuckle when I read that wealthy individuals drive their own cars – while I am very wealthy in many areas in my life, money and possessions are not one of them – and yet, I have a car. It’s an older model though, and only really gets us from point A to point B – but at least it’s roadworthy! 😉
This information was taken from Wikipedia and you can view the rest of it here, if you’re interested. I had a look at some news articles thinking I could post some more ‘factual’ links, but they were all just too negative. I have to add that taxi’s also come in the form of cars, and overloading is probably the biggest problem, next to the safety issues. Sometimes, you can see ten people being transported in a vehicle meant for five. It happens. Not all taxi’s are bad though, but it may not be a recommended form of transportation if you’re visiting.

In South Africa, there is a good chance you will encounter monkeys who will take your food. At my daughter’s school they are prohibited from eating food in a certain area of the school, because the trees that fence that area are filled with monkeys – and when they want your food they can be aggressive to the point of life-endangering. I have not had them in my own home, but a friend who lives not far from me often returns from work to find that they have ransacked her kitchen again – impolitely leaving banana peels all over her floor. She stopped buying banana’s, but they still go back time after time. They can be rather destructive, and she returned once to find cereal scattered all over the floor. She tried closing all her windows when she left in the morning, and came home to a hot box, because that’s what happens in Summer around here. She does find that there’s less ‘monkeying around’ in Winter though.

In South Africa, crime is ridiculous. That’s all I am going to say about that, for now. You are welcome to google news stories and crime statistics if you’d like to know more. I don’t think it would leave you feeling very happy though, so it may be best to just avoid that whole point of interest entirely. Won’t you most likely won’t find in South African homes (although if you’re visiting, the Bed and Breakfasts and Hotels usually do have) is central heating and air conditioning. What you will find, more often than not, is high walls or fencing (electric, or razor wire on top), alarm systems and burglar bars – lots of them, on every window; burglar gates on every door. (Probably better known in the states as security gates and bars.) I think the biggest thing I struggle to come to terms with is that there is no regard for human life, and you can actually get killed, just for a dollar.

In South Africa, cars get broken into and stolen at an alarming rate, like a new trend on Twitter. There are companies, and individuals, who act as ‘car guards’, and their function is pretty much what it says. They hang around, and watch your car while you’re in the store or at the movies. If your car is still there when you come out, and it hasn’t been broken in to, then they would like you to give them a ‘tip’ – in fact, it’s expected. This is usually some spare change, and doesn’t really amount to much. The thing to watch out for is the ones who are trying to fulfill this role while inebriated – obviously they’re not very alert, and can get quite abusive if you point this out to them, or refuse to tip them. And of course, there are the 2% who are actually the criminals!

One more thing I need to mention – what Americans call a ‘truck’, we call a ‘bakkie’. It’s pronounced something like ‘buck-ee’, and refers to ‘little trucks’ – pretty much any truck shaped vehicle below 2 tons. What Americans would call an 18-wheeler? Well, over here, that’s a truck!

All right. All of the above is just a little bit of background, and information, for all of you. It was based on the advertisement and pretty much ‘gives away’ most of its contents (although the clip doesn’t have all the added explanations, of course), but if you still want to watch it, you can do so by going here.