30 days or so in South Africa - 20 August 2007

Hey folks, I'm still alive.
Nobody has killed me yet, I'm still getting married next year and guess what? I'm enjoying the place

This is me trying to understand this country.

My house in Weltevreden ParkI promised myself I would wait for a month until writing my first article from South Africa, as an immigrant (actually I'm still a tourist waiting for his visa).
30 days passed and still I didn't write a single line.
Then, finally, something happened: my wedding date has been finally confirmed, after never ending visits to all the different (and very nice) locations in the Muldersdrift, a valley not too far from where I live now. Now, with a date to look forward (28 march 2008 folks, and yes, girls you can just give up now), I found some time to write my very first considerations of this new experience.

In a little book that every guy should read ("The Bluffer's Guide to Wine") there is a small chapter about South African wines that reads:
"Discerning drinkers of South African wines will avoid cheap blends served up under new ANC-style labels and seek out excellent estate wines such as Klein Contantia, Fairwiew, Kanonkop and Hamilton Russel. The last has the addition of impeccable liberal credentials, having opposed apartheid long before the ANC came to power.
There are two streams of opinion about South Africa's one distinctive grape variety, Pinotage. In some blind tastings Pinotage regularly beat the more traditional French offerings. Others think it generally tastes like mud"

Driving AroundWell, this is South Africa for you. Land of Contradictions.

It is difficult to have an idea of South Africa from Europe. Every time I met some South Africans they were all full of crazy stories about car hijacking at the lights (or robots, this is how they are called here), gunshots and taxi wars.
Well, they were almost right.

Some fires in the distanceUnfortunately they kept forgetting about the great weather, even in a winter like this (you know, seasons are a bit messed up here in the southern hemisphere) the general politeness of the people, the food, the sport. And the fact that amazon.co.uk delivers here, luckily (yes Rob, I got Super Snooper).

Yes, they have some problems.
Mainly do to with the government and their leader, Mbeki, and the false promises that made it so hated by either white or black people.
Millions are being spent on changing the names of towns and streets while little is done to improve the infrastructure. There is a general sentiment of trying to completely remove a piece of history, while I personally feel that, no matter how bleak those years were, it's important to remember them for what they were.
Olaf and Friend For example, trying to suppress the Afrikaner nation's culture (the other white people who are not the English, by the way) is not the right solution, since they'll end up crippling the new generation of Afrikaners who had nothing to do with Apartheid.
There is a problem called immigration, with Zimbabweans and Nigerians flooding to the country every day.
There is the HIV problem, underestimated by the same government as above.
There even is a world cup coming in less than 3 years, but hey, this is a totally different story.

  And there is no public transportation, if you exclude the dangerous taxis. I bought a bicycle as soon as I arrived here, but those damn hills and the lack of oxygen have been a killer. I will buy a car one day, just to lift Lindsey from the burden of carrying me around everywhere, even to football training (yes, I did find a football team to train, shame about the season being almost over!).

Olaf and LindseyFriends keep asking me why. Why South Africa? Why Africa? Why the opposite end of the world? Well, this is where life has brought me. Italy, Poland, London. Everything was just a passing stage to this place. There is some hope around, the country is young (many consider the country to be effectively re-born in 1994) and sometimes I really feel like this is land of possibility, but probably I've been watching too much advertising on SABC.

I would really like to invite you here and discover the land and the people by yourself. But if you are willing to spend some money to come here better wait until March and come at my (and Lindsey's) wedding. I'm aware of the high cost to reach South Africa, but hey, I won't expect anything from you from the wedding list!
But you are always welcome to buy me a huge HD television for my next house. Or a house.