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Penguins on Boulders Beach in Cape Town

This. Is. Africa.

By Jenny McLarney

Last updated: 9th November 2011

Cape Town has held me captive.  I was meant to be going down the Garden Route but I’ve decided to elongate my stay in this city for a couple more days….the freedom of  travelling on your own is just great. So are the friends you meet. I have to say this was my biggest worry, but making friends is preeetty simple.  Just get the awkward ‘Hi I’m Jenny’, and casual (but oh so necessary) questions about their reasons for being in South Africa, out of the way and you’re flying. Although a couple of words of warning about the friends you meet.

Certainly don’t half accuse South African waiters of stealing your wallet and then go on to cancel your cards before fully interrogating the company you keep. Yes SOMEONE thought it’d be funny to hide my wallet and let me call the bank to report my missing cards before guiltily producing said wallet from her bag with a plea for forgiveness and the offering of a meal and eternal friendship. Yes Stephanie Nicholson, from San Francisco, who is currently attending University of Colorado,WATCH YOUR BACK. You American scorpion woman.  Luckily I was prepared for such an event and have still got another card, a wise move if you’re travelling with such hilarious tricksters.

Another small thing I’ve noticed is the rather ad hoc driving style in South Africa. Not only did I experience the previously mentioned slight bumper removal in Cornelia’s car in my first week, but I have since dared several other South African driving styles and realise there are multiple little quirks that are just common practice. For example over-taking, a simple manoeuvre whereby the car pulls out into the fast lane, speeds past the slower car and pulls back into the slow lane. Simple. However it seems that dramatically speeding up til you are practically touching the car in front, winding down the window, hurling abuse at the car in front until they pull into the hard shoulder, just so you can continue in the slow lane, is the desired tactic here. Well, why not? It’s your lane anyway, you were on it first. T.I.A.

I also have to mention the township party I went to on Saturday night. Now I was slightly apprehensive about going I mean the word ‘township’ has certain connotations to the sheltered middle class English girl travelling alone. However it was one member of the of the shark boat crew’s birthday and the two guys I went with had lived in Gansbaai for four years. They assured me it was a ‘nice’ township…since I’d never been to a township I didn’t really know what a ‘nice’ one would entail, but I thought I’d never have the opportunity to go again. I had honestly nothing to worry about. In my complete ignorance I was imagining a kind of Notting Hill carnival-esque street party but when we arrived I was ushered into a HUGE hall with a sizable bar, a lot of pool tables and a full band on a stage. Throughout the night, I was not listening to the rhythmic beat of African drums but the melodious musings of Neyo and the Pussycat Dolls. That shut me right up and it was a great night. It just shows how assumptions are pointless, you really have to experience life.

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