27 October 2006

General Observations, Part I


  • The sun here is very intense. If you visit this area, use lots of sunblock with the highest SPF you can get hold of. (Unless it's cloudy – duh!) Wear a hat. Wear sunglasses. For fuck's sake don't sunbathe!

  • (I guess the whites get it, because most looked stay-out-of-the-sun white.)

  • For being a third world country, the quality of the roads and highways is in general, at least in the Western Cape, very good.

  • However, being in a third world country, the infrastructure pretty much sucks. Public transportation is more or less non-existent. What does exist is generally unsafe. Will something happen before the World Cup comes to South Africa?

  • At restaurants, they are very quick to clear your plate away when you're done eating, even when the other person(s) are still eating.

  • The above is contradictory to “African time”, which is no myth. The pace here is generally slow. On our Robben Island tour, even our guide said “never make an appointment with an African” and said something along the lines of “if you say let's meet in 3 hours, you'll wait 3 weeks”...

  • Everyone says hello and smiles to one another and it seems like they mean it.

  • The vast majority of cars are white. Other popular colors are silver/gray, blue, and red.

  • The most aggressive drivers drive blue cars.

  • Cyclists are typically suicidal, way beyond the suicidalness of cyclists in Oslo. Among the things we saw – cycling against traffic on the highway and cycling with, against, and perpendicular to traffic in the dark while wearing dark clothes.

  • Very few restaurants provide proper alcohol-free alternatives as drinks (other than over-sugary pop or water); i.e. no non-alcoholic beer or wine. And yes, combined with the lack of proper public transportation, drunk driving is a big problem in South Africa...

  • Electronics are extremely expensive here (more expensive than in Norway/Europe), and around 2-3 years behind what we have in Norway/Europe.

  • Restaurants have smoking sections, and the smoking age is 16 and up, but I didn't see too many smokers in general.

  • The coffee is more likely to be awful than not. It typically tastes like warm water with brown coloring, or else it tastes burned. It is possible to choose cold milk or hot milk to go with the coffee, which is quite nice, but it doesn't help much when the coffee isn't any good. I guess (rooibos) tea is the big thing there?

  • Food is cheap, at least by Norwegian standards. However, one thing that isn't cheap is Norwegian salmon, which we saw priced at R 225 per kg. The rand is more or less at 1-1 with the NOK. Here, we pay around 75-80 kroner per kg. I wonder how typical South Africans feel about food prices, especially considering I was recently told by a South African that a bottle of wine for R 50 is considered "on the expensive side."

  • Rugby is very popular here. It's on TV a lot, and you see lots of rugby fields and lots of young people going to and from training, rugby ball under their arms...

  • Umqombothi is one of the nastiest drinks on this planet, but very popular in the township shebeens. It's a "homemade" concoction of fermented maize, sorghum and water. The alcohol percentage is low, around 2-3%, and it is served in buckets...

  • It is not possible to get beer in a regular supermarket, like you can in Norway. You have to get it at a liquor store.

  • There are lots of beautiful houses here, hidden behind high walls and/or fences, some electrified. Some people also use barbed wire. Armed security patrols are everywhere...

  • Parmalat has infiltrated – lots of Parmalat dairy products here. But I chose and was rather impressed with the local stuff. The milk was very good, and the local cheeses were to die for! I wish I could get some of that stuff here! *pout*

3 comments:

bettiwettiwoo said...

Field to Feast is a blog with African food and has this little rooibos gem: Rooibos Sangria

feitpingvin said...

Now that is interesting, both the sangria and the whole site. Thanks for pointing it out! :-D

bettiwettiwoo said...

I've been looking for an alternative to glögg: I'm not all that keen on the cold white variant and drinking hot red glögg is just ... wrong when it's 40C in the shade (Xmas in Oz). And I was thinking this could be a good alternative. Don't know whether I can get the echte kind of rooibos here, but one could perhaps use something like red chai instead.