Posts Tagged ‘Cape town’

One of the questions I ask people when I travel is “What do you do for Xmas?”

The answers vary DRASTICALLY depending on the person- not necessarily the culture. At first, I thought “well, in Belize they would celebrate it the same way as other Central Americans, right?” WRONG.

 

I urge you to ask this to others- or! Write a comment below about how you celebrate your holiday.

 

I’ve heard all sorts of traditions:

-Filipinos start celebrating in November and don’t stop until WAY after the New Year. (Even when there are typhoons).

-In Belize, they walk around singing carols and go to people’s house, drink, eat, and collect more people for the Caroler Choir.

-In France, it’s similar to ours- except for the food they eat- which is goose and fancy cheese and dried fruit.

-In Cape Town- they have a braai (of course) while they bask in the sunshine/warmth of Summer.

 

Growing up, my holiday was different because we celebrated both Hannnauakuah (I’m Jew-ISH- emphasis on the ISH) and Christmas. I never understood families that have “2 Christmases” with different parts of the family. It always sounded hectic. My family wouldn’t do stockings- we did Hanukah instead. (This had the added benefit of the dogs not eating the stockings!)

The traditions (growing up) are as follows:

  1. Eat a huge ham/turkey dinner on Xmas-eve. With all the trimmings and what-not.
  2. Mom preps her famous “egg bake” (think savory quiche/bread pudding but in a casserole dish). It needs to soak 12-24 hours in advanced.
  3. Xmas-eve was spent (forced) watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Christmas Story”.
    1. (My fathead brother and I never really liked these films. We always wanted to watch something else- but my mom would whine and complain about “tradition”. These days I would be happy watching Hebrew Hammer. But I digress.
  4. Xmas morning would happen and there would be 1 person making coffee, my mom would put her egg-bake into the oven to cook (it would take 1.5 hours), I was in charge of music (I always loaded the CD player with Xmas music for the first CD and then random CDs afterwards (The Star Wars soundtrack was my popular choice-Mom hated this).
  5. One person would open a gift at a time so we could “all watch their expression” and bask in the ego trip of purchasing more crap than we could ever know what to do with.

The rest of the day was spent either tinkering with the gifts, playing cards, eating cookies, and/or screaming at each other. This is what I remember, anyway.

 

These days, I have given up on Xmas. This is my 5th xmas in Seattle and I couldn’t be happier. I make a cup of coffee (sometimes with peppermint extract or nutmeg) and turn off all electronic devices and just sit… in silence. Sometimes I nap. Sometimes I knit. Mostly I just watch the rain.

It’s pretty magical.

My grandmother thinks it’s lonely. My parents think it’s lonely. Everyone thinks it’s lonely. I think it’s heaven on earth and it’s the thing I look forward to the most.

 

What are your holiday traditions? 

I decided to go back to Cape Town for a boy. This is something I haven’t done since… uh…. Highschool? I guess you could say that the week-long romance (and communication afterwards during my overland trip) was good enough I wanted to see where this would go. So when I arrived in Vic-Falls I booked my flight with frequent fliers using united.com’s (star alliance) website. I checked several options- and finally decided on the most complicated (and least expensive) option of going from:

Kilimanjaro – Addis Ababa – Nairobi – Johannesburg – Cape Town. 4 flights, 2 carriers, 1 alliance, 56 hours of airport time. Total cost to me: 52$. If nothing else, I would get a lot of reading/work done.

I got a ride to the airport from a great friend (Praise Nygene– who I also booked my Kili trip with) along with another American girl who was flying to Rwanda. She checked in and left with no problems.

I get to the counter, after standing in line for 55 min, to find out that my ticket has been “flagged” and I needed “to go to the office”.

I felt like a school kid who was in trouble…

I went to the office and was told that I would be rerouted straight to Nairobi. Great!

6 hours later, I get my new itinerary (I hope it works out!!!) and I’m sitting down at dinner in a really posh lodge that the airline put me up in “for my inconvenience”.

I need to explain something:

I have been camping for the past 52 days. I have been in every climate in all of the southern African horn: desert, rain forest, high altitude, volcanos, snow, sleet, rain. Having people snore next to/below you. Sharing tents with people who talk/moan in their sleep. Having to get up at crazy hours for heaps of reasons (taking care of drunk people, domestic abuse, hippos eating outside your tent, climbing a dormant volcano….)

This was the first night, in 52 days, that I got to:

1) Sleep in my OWN ROOM
2) with clean sheets!
3) NAKED! (if I wanted)
4) while drinking the free bottled-water!
5) jumping on the bed
6) with a mosquito net!
7) WITH MY OWN BATHROOM! ATTACHED! TO THE ROOM! I didn’t have to get dressed/shoed to pee in the middle of the night!

Oh… glorious!

I also got free dinner (and dessert! and breakfast!) which was a huge spread and I stuffed myself silly.

Tangent: there have been several times when re-booking was a great idea… Like the time when I was re-routed to Denver and missed my flight. That night I decided “either I’m going to get a hotel or watch the opening of Batman. Luckily, I got a hotel room- as the closest theater to the airport was in Aurora.

Moving on.

I got into Nairobi. It’s kinda like a shitty little airport- Strike that. Not kinda. It is a shitty little airport. The hallways are way too small and loud people with roller bags stand in the middle of the 2-butt isle screaming on their cell phones.

I search for a lounge. There is none.
I search for comfortable chairs. There are none.
There is nothing that isn’t metal or tile in this entire airport. (Believe me- I had 13 hours to kill… I searched!)

This all surprised me because it’s supposed to be “the airport hub of Africa”- and yet… It’s so unfriendly towards passengers. I mean, when you have a options to fly through certain cities, why would you ever choose to fly through Nairobi? I couldn’t find a single one.

I eventually settled for an over-priced cafe that has ugly orange plastic-coated booths and electric plugs and I plopped myself down for the long-haul.

The waitress startles me when I’m informed that they are closing. Good! 2 hours left in this gawd-forsaken place. I pay, get up and go towards the shitty tiled terminal to wait -in my sleeping bag, on the tile floor- for my flight to begin boarding.

I get on the plane. It’s empty. I would have gotten a row to myself except a Kenyan decided to sit in the middle seat and hovered over me while I fill out my Ebola health form.

I tell him I’m switching seats and get up and move behind him- only to be woken up by the flight attendants who wanted to give me breakfast. At 3am…..

“It’s ok,” I breathe. “I’ll be there soon.”

By this point, my cheerfulness was waning from the long hours of doing nothing. I was exhausted, circling around angry/pissed off- but I needed to look refreshed and flirty for the customs guy at Jo’berg.

You see, South Africa has this weird law about Visas. They give you a 90-day visa with an option to extend (but that takes weeks). Normally, (free) visas are “refreshed” every time you cross a boarder, but SA has had problems with “boarder-hoppers”- so they changed the law, but didn’t really post it anywhere. When I emailed the embassy and explained my whole situation, their (oh-so-not-helpful) reply was simply: “it varies from custom official to custom official. Good luck!”

….. heh.

So, basically, I had to show off my persuasion skills (which is really difficult since I’ve been traveling for 54 hours, in shitty airports, all my clothes are dirty, I don’t own any mascara, AND my next flight leaves in 20minutes). I approached the customs window and gave a huge smile. I told the guy that my future relationship depended on him. He asked me to explain and so I told him the whole story… How I met a boy, we want to continue our relationship, I left on an overland tour, I just summited Kilimanjaro, and now “I’m coming back to see him… Please! If you believe in love, you will give me a new visa.”

He told me “Sorry. You need to go back to your home country. To America.”

“But I don’t get stamps from America. How will you know if I’ve been back there or not?”

“Well, you just told me you came from Nairobi from an overland tour.”

“So, you’re penalizing me for telling you the truth?”

(back and forth for about 10 minutes… My flight is boarding now…. Finally…..)

“… I can see how that is frustrating. Ok. This once. In the name of love, I will give you your visa. But if you plan on staying, please allow 1 month to extend your visa!”

Breathless, I ran (until I was really/for realz breathless) to my gate and was the last one on board.

I arrived in Cape Town, bought airtime, called my boy, squee’d a little, rode the bus back home– where the boy and I had a week and a half of romance-followed by a week of frustration from jobs and lack of money and other things, followed by an epic breakup on Halloween.

………Oh well. It was an educational experience, at least.

———

Are you an editor? I’m trying to put together a book of short-stories. (basically, more of these blog posts.) They’re funny! They’re moving! They’re 90% true. If you’re interested in being an editor (cutting out the crap, challenging me on stuff that doesn’t make sense, etc) and have time/interest, let me know!

Marcus

Posted: November 16, 2014 in ADVENTURE STORIES!, Hope, TRAVEL
Tags: , , , , ,

As I said before, I work in a backpackers in Cape Town. One morning I got a weird call from a woman named Shamise. She said “I’m looking for Marcus. Do you have a guest by that name?”

I told her that I couldn’t reveal that information, but if she wanted to leave a telephone number and message I would pass it on *IF* he was staying here.

She left her name, number and a message of “I have your wallet and shoes.” She explained that she was the girl that he was with last night.

Alright. No worries. This stuff happens all the time in hostels. A crazy night of fun followed by a quick get-away while the girl is in the bathroom or whatever. “screw and run” as we call them. I was a little tickled that this girl was honorable enough to try to get his ID/shoes back to him.

*NOTE: I always think people are doing the honorable/right thing. This is my default. I’ve been told that this is what separates me from my fellow South African counterparts. They think everyone is dodgy/out to scam them and we think everyone is good by nature. They blame it on being closer to Nigeria. #whatever #movingon

—-
Fast-forward. My shift ends and a girl gets buzzed in. Janette (my co-worker) takes over and talks to the girl.

Apparently, this was Shamise! She says that she has his ID and he’s missing and she’s worried about him. Janette asks for the ID. The girl didn’t want to give it up, but eventually did. She still has his shoes, though.

She leaves.

Enter stage left: Marcus!
He looks AWFUL.

Apparently, the night before, he went out to the club, had a kickin’ time, and then walked home. While walking home (around 2am) 2 guys walked along-side him, pushed him, and demanded that he gives them money, wallet, keys, phone, etc.
Marcus gave them everything.

Then they demanded his shoes and shoved him into a car, “like in one of those movies”.

In the car, was an older woman, this Shamise character, and the 2 guys got in. They explained that they had to drop the woman off somewhere and they will “totally give you (marcus) a ride back to your place”.

So they drop the woman off. Everyone gets out of the car, but they lock Marcus in the car with the child-proof locks (or something…. This is where the story gets strange).

Marcus, shirtless, shoe-less, no wallet or phone, signals to someone that he has been kidnapped and they break the window and he climbs out and runs home. (about 10K… at 3am.)

*Side note: I find it hilarious that 2 guys would kidnap/rob someone while HAVING YOUR MOTHER IN THE CAR! I mean, what an awkward conversation that would be, eh? “Hey mum. We’re going to rob this guy, then we’ll drop you off, ok?” I wish I got more details on this.

—-
So now we are back in the present. That girl, Shamise, is still looking for him. Marcus is still staying here. He filed a police report, but that’s kinda useless in Cape Town as everything is pretty corrupt and since there was no murder/real violence, even less action will be taken.

Marcus is scared to walk around- since Shamise and the boys know what he looks like and know where he lives. Also, Marcus knows what they look like and could identify them if/when the police do anything.

Marcus, bless his heart, is a local South African who just re-moved here from Pretoria. He’s lived in Cape Town before, but wasn’t expecting this kind of welcome when he came back. What does he do when he’s telling me this story? He laughs.

“Because that’s all you can do right now. You can worry all night, but what does that get you? Ulcers. If you laugh, you live longer- and get less wrinkles.”

Spot on, Marcus… Spot on.

I’ve been working in a hostel for 3 weeks. Most backpackers/travelers go to hostels, stay a night, party, sometimes sleep, and leave the next day… Then there are others who stay and begin to embrace the hostel (hostile?) life.

The Big Blue Backpackers building is old and beautiful building with huge archways that greet you at every turn, a big wooden, winding staircase goes up to the rooms upstairs and there is a landing staircase that leads out to private ensuite rooms. There are side stair-cases that you get all turned around in and the walls are all very colorful and bright and plastered with flyers and printouts for the various organizations around Cape Town. Every hostel has it’s charms and uniqueness, but this one is the first that feels like a home.

This isn’t really unusual, but it’s special and certainly celebrated in the backpacker circles.

For example: one night, while at work, a man from the UK called and asked about our rates. This is fairly normal, so I walked him through the whole spiel. He asked how close we were to the convention center, how clean the rooms were, if they had their own bathrooms or if he had to share. I explained the dorms (he asked for lower prices) and he was shocked and confused that adults would share rooms, let alone bunk beds, with other people.

“WHAT ABOUT SECURITY?”

“eh… There are lockers for your valuables, but, really, everyone leaves your stuff alone. I mean, they have their clothes, you have your clothes.”

I wasn’t sure if this was a prank call or not- because what professionals have conventions (or recording sessions) to attend and choose to stay at a backpackers?  (ahem…… besides me, of course).

The dorms give you opportunity to get closer to your fellow dorm-mates! Take Rolando, the Rastafarian from Kenya, who is rockin’ the beer gut and really enjoys sleeping naked…. in a mixed dorm. Others, like Adrian, go out all night and party and wake us (the entire room) up at 4am with stories of the hookers (note plural) that he “gehoereer met tot volgende Dinsdag”. (translate.google.com is your friend).

Some would find this behavior disgusting. Some would be annoyed. I just can’t help but laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. I mean- who else in the world can say “I woke up to hooker stories and when I rolled my eyes, I saw Rolando’s bare ass hanging off the bed.”

Since it’s halloween as I write this, I’m going to share some of the “Harry Potter” aspects of Big Blue:

1) There are Harry Potter Closets under the stairs

These have been converted to 2 toilets and 2 showers.This is my favorite part of the house, to be honest.

2) We have ghosts (or shoddy electricians).

The electricity has been in a constant state of flux since I got here back in August. Apparently, when I mentioned this, it has been in a state of flux for over 2 years. (“T.I.A, man… This is Africa”). It just means that I need to continue my tradition of always wearing my head-lamp after dark so I can brush my teeth and not stub my toe on something.

Tangent: One day, we were without power for over 25 hours. Partly due to “load shedding*”. It was infuriating telling the guests: “Normally, when we have electricity, we have wifi and here’s the password. And there is the bar, but unless we have electricity, I can’t get you drinks. Here’s the TV room… but it’s pretty empty and boring without electricity.”

Normally I would be all about the adventure of sitting around a candle telling ghost stories and other local urban legends- but it was hard to convince the other guests to do the same thing when we were all frustrated beyond all hell and worried that all our frozen food was going to go bad. (Which it didn’t- but we did end up making a huge smorgasbord/fajitas once electricity came back on).

*According to the paper:

“Consumers have been urged to conserve electricity and also brace themselves for rolling power outages for the rest of the week- this comes after Eskom announced it faced severe constraints to power supply after a silo containing 10,000 stons of coal collapsed on Saturday.” – the kicker is if you ask the locals why the power is going out- and they say that Eskom wants to raise prices, but the government has a cap on it and doesn’t want to raise it, so Eskom, since they have a monopoly, is flexing their muscles trying to squeeze the government to raise the cap. #ConspiracyTheoriesRock

3) We have a Moaning Mrytle

One day, a water main bust down the street- leaving all of Green Point without water. This wasn’t a huge deal (except for staff who was rushing around trying to get enough bottled water for everyone). One guest, however, turned the tap on, nothing came out, gave up and left…. Without turning the tap off. So when the water came back on (at 11am), their room slowly filled up with water, flooding the whole room and ruining the flooring. This wouldn’t be so terrible, except we still had guests that were booked for that room and we could never seem to get a day to fix it.

4) We have Potions class.

The most fun that we have (as long-term guests) is labeling our food. Constantly, guests will help themselves to your food- thinking you won’t notice that “spoonful of honey” (that is really half the jar). So you need to label your food creatively to turn people off from eating it. Before, I simply would write “LN spit in this” on all my packages. But ever since the Ebola outbreak, I’ve been adding “LN spit in this, and I have ebola”. Other things I’ve seen are “Stool Sample”, “Drug Test Urine Sample” and “Durian. DO NOT OPEN!”.

5) We had Kreecher the House Elf!

There was also an old woman who stayed here for a few weeks. She had a laugh like a hyena and didn’t understand sarcasm or empathy. She actually wasn’t mean- but she was crazy and had the delightful habit of talking out loud- which I do as well- except she would do “deliberate action” talking- where every action she took, she announced what she was doing. This is great practice (as David Marquet taught me) on a submarine- where your actions could be disastrous if done improperly. But saying “I’m getting a spoon. I’m dipping my spoon into yogurt and getting some out for my muesli. I think Yogurt and muesli go well together- especially if you mixed it with arsenic. Oh! but this is MY breakfast. I’m very much looking forward to eating this. If I had a bit of raisins, I would put those in, as well. It wonder if it would cover up the taste of rat poison. hmm. Oh! this looks good!”

6) speaking of house elves.. we have Dobby!

Dave, a man who sleeps in a free-standing hut in the back, has 2 little dogs named Booka and Summa. They both look almost identical, but once you get to know them, you can tell the differences. Summa, if you’re holding chicken, will look at you with this dobby-house-elf look. But, if you give it to her, then that’s it… it’s all over. You will be showered in love just like Harry was with Dobby. Except Summa slobbers and her breath smells like dog food.

7) We have ButterBeer!

There was the night when Josh, a bible-thumper who was raised in a very sheltered home, had a bad day and decided to drink whatever was in front of him- which started as a bottle of vodka and ended with a bottle of sambucca. Around 8pm, he couldn’t stand. At 8:15 we hoisted him to the grassy area so he could pee. He failed to do this and instead pissed then vomited on himself, and passed out- head down, butt up, in the grass. We left him like that until 10:30 when we tried to get him to drink some water and sober up enough to drunkenly crawl to the bathroom where we showered him and put him in clean boxers. (Have I mentioned that he has only kissed one girl and he spent the next 3 weeks repenting about it? Now here is a girl- day 2 back in Cape Town- and she’s undressing him and showering him? Yep. I’m a nice person.) We got Josh into bed and went to the bathroom to clean up/collect his crap when all of a sudden the electricity shuts off again. Jay walks out of the dorm and says “Josh just vomited on a power-outlet and it tripped the building.” That was a long night.

8) We have Fred (or George).

Ginger cats (who have owners) will randomly come into the hostel. One, named King Kai, used to have a collar but it keeps… uh… “going missing”. Kai has slept in my bed often and gives me gifts of love (rats… dead ones!). My dorm is on the ground floor and the windows are permanently open. On a daily basis, Kai will make his appearance and be sleeping on my bed, which I love. One day (Oct 19th, to be exact, 90 days after I left home) I was feeling particularly homesick and decided that a nap was in order. I curled up to take a nap and someone placed Kai next to me. We cuddled and slept away my sadness.

Overall, I have enjoyed my time at Big Blue. Highly recommend it for anyone traveling to Cape Town who is up for adventure and good people. But mostly, it was a great educational experience and heaps of good stories.

iMiss

Posted: November 2, 2014 in Hope, TRAVEL
Tags: , , , , ,

Every 90 days or so I get homesick. Today marks the 90th day I’ve been away from home- so I wasn’t really THAT surprised when I woke up in a pissy mood and wanted to just crawl up in a ball and cry all day while looking at pictures of my cat. It doesn’t help that the laundry lady lost my TWO (2!!!) hankies. Who loses hankies?! Especially hand-made ones! 😦

I only have 98 items now. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling. I love experiencing all flavors of new things! But I miss certain things that make home “home”. Which is hilarious, because I consider the entire country of USofA to be “home”… Not just a city or state.

 

With that said, here are my steps to curbing homesickness:

1) Write a list of things that you miss.

2) Go out that week and find those things.

 

That’s it.

 

So- with that said, this is my list. It’s huge.

  1. Golden Grahams (Thanks Amy…..)
  2. Swing dancing (Jive)
  3. Fast internet. (anything faster than a 1mb connection is considered fast)
  4. Sonic limeades (with the crushed pebble ice!)
  5. Nachos
  6. Chuy’s Chuychunga (with a real margarita)
  7. Driving towards Rainier, in the spitting rain, with my windows slightly rolled down, listening to shitty music.
  8. My Cat, La Puta. ❤ ❤ ❤
  9. Texting
  10. Durian Bubble Tea
  11. Dirty Chai’s (done properly…. not tasting like milk and not made with powder).
  12. Blue Moon beer, Dominos pizza, and America’s Next Top Hooker on a Friday night.
  13. PUMPKIN…. EVERYTHING…. (It’s flippin’ October and I haven’t had a pumpkin anything yet! Can you believe it?!)
  14. Hearing the wind blow through the leaves, hearing them crackle and fall off a tree. (also, jumping in piles of leaves with my fathead brother).
  15. Downloading and listening to podcasts all day.
  16. My aerial silk/dance classes
  17. Hanging out with my friends and laughing so hard my sides hurt. ❤

 

When I first started traveling, I would make lists like this every week (I called them my ‘iMiss lists’). At first they were filled with random petty things like: Hot showers, texting, claritin, English speakers, brussels sprouts, gelato, electric, etc.

 

My list is getting more specific. It’s funny how your perception/priorities change.

 

What do you miss when you travel?

I feel like enough time has gone by for me to finally talk about this. People always seem to ask “what’s the worst thing that happened when you travel?” Expecting to hear a story like this (or of being poorly kidnapped).

In reality- more bad stuff has happened to me in the states/Canada (email hacked, credit card fraud, car broken into, held at needle-point, assault, sexual harassment, etc) than when traveling. I guess we’re programmed to ignore these facts and just believe that the rest of the world is far more scary than our own. Probably because it’s unknown and unfamiliar.

I’ll get back to that.

I got mugged because I was careless and stupid.

Let me back up.

  1. I was walking up an unpopulated hill in daylight (normally- this is fine),
  2. listening to Ted talks on my phone. (Again- normally this is fine)
  3. but I was trying to pick one I hadn’t heard before- therefore- I was paying more attention to my phone than to what was around me (fatal mistake).

I didn’t even see this hooded figure come up next to me. He tapped me on the shoulder and said something about money. I ignored him, thinking he was a homeless person and went to walk away until he grabbed me and stuck a knife in my side and uttered “don’t scream”.

You know that bit in your lizard brain that tells you to fight, flight or freeze? Mine must be malfunctioning because I thought all 3 at the same time.

He got impatient and grunted “Give me money.”

The thoughts that raced through my head were like a channel-flipper.

  • “What should I do?”
  • “Seriously? This is happening?”
  • “Eh- I’ll just reboot my day back to the last save point.”
  • “Oh crap……. This isn’t a dream”
  • “I should kick him in the balls.” (This wasn’t a possibility from where he was physically standing).
  • “Maybe I should just do what they always do- and give him everything.”
  • “Wait- if I do that, I’ll end up with nothing. And besides- that didn’t work out for Batman’s parents.”
  • “There’s no way this guy is getting everything. Not without a fight.”
  • “He’s looking at me funny…. I should probably do something.”

I had my book bag and phone. On the back of my phone was my my-city bus card (which, by the way, in Cape Town is a master card. So, technically, it’s money.) I gave that to him. He threw that down to the ground and grabbed my phone…. MY PRECIOUS!

To most people it’s just an out of date iPhone. To me it is my camera, my microphone, my journal, my budget notes, my translator, my itinerary… And was it backed up? No. Of course not. That would be responsible……….

(Another lesson learned… Moving on.)

Then he wanted my bag as well.

Here’s where it gets complicated. My brain was saying “LN, you always just give them everything. It’s ok. Nothing is worth your life.” Except my passport, cards, first aid kit and journal was all in that bag! Ok- the first aid kit is replaceable but the rest wasn’t! Not easily! My hand-written journal had all my notes from the past month in it. I hadn’t gotten around to transposing it to my google-drive file (super slow Internet…). Besides- I have almost 95 stamps in that passport! Do you know how much of a bitch it is to get your passport replaced?!? Especially after 9/11?!?

Believe me- it’s a pain. And if you have to pick an option of dealing with homeland security or get stabbed? I pick getting stabbed every time.

So I refused to give up my bag. I gave him my best “back the fuck off” lion-stare that I’ve mastered at bars and in the bush. He grabbed the bag and tried to cut it off me. And this was HIS first mistake- because this is when I found out that his “knife” was as sharp as an envelope opener. I started screaming at this point and jumped after him.

Luckily my bag was heavy with bottled water. He panicked and threw that at me and took off- still with my phone. (My precious!)

I mustered up all my CrossFit endurance and took off after him. (Wearing chacos….) He rounded a corner where, for some miracle of gawd, a bunch of triathlon trainers were sprinting the hills. I was screaming “mugger! Thief! Stop him!” They must have heard me and they, too, took off after him.

Confession: I was impressed by this guy’s stamina. And embarrassed by my own. (If only he ran races for a living instead of getting high off backpacker’s pawned stuff! Yep. I’m passing judgement and making assumptions. This asshat had My Precious. I’m allowed.)

The particular neighborhood that I was in has “neighborhood watch” towers. Little boxes where a paid guard sits, texts all day, and makes sure nothing happens during his shift. Normally I disregard them and think they are a waste of money. Not today! Before I knew it, a guard came running out of one, and sprinted after the guy. (Mental note: South African security guards do not eat donuts on the job!) They rounded the corner and the next thing I knew I saw the guard come towards me with my phone.

MY PRECIOUS!

I offered to buy the guard lunch- but he declined and took off for his guard post which was un-manned during his act of amazing heroism.

I don’t know what happened to the thief- this seems to be a big question for people. To be honest, I don’t really care what happened to him because I ended up ok and all he ended up with a my-city bus card with 3$ on it.

Don’t let my hyperbole fool you, though. Afterwards I felt violated. Hyper aware of everything (glances, bumps and bulges in people’s coats/bags, weird smells, my gut feeling) and felt foolish for being so careless. Cape Town reminded me so much of San Francisco mixed with Melbourne that I just took safety for granted and didn’t even consider myself in a third world country (see my craptastic Internet moaning above).

The irony is that bad things happen all the time to people who aren’t paying attention. More has happened to me at “home” because I take safety for granted- when, in fact, desperate people who are looking for easy marks are everywhere.

I realize that there are heaps of exceptions to this opinion. I also realize that it’s exhausting to be hyper aware all the time- and the thought that if you let your guard down for an instant you’ll be a target is enough to make people never want to ever leave the house. So I’ll leave off with the advice I follow and keeps me sane and keeps me traveling with limited fear:

  1. Never travel with your passport if you don’t have to.
  2. There is (usually) power in groups, or advantages to walking quickly.
  3. Always back up yer crap. (Phone, journal, whatever.) Make this a weekly ritual.
  4. If you are already drawing attention to yourself (ie- if you’re the only white girl around) draw MORE attention by screaming, barking, talking to yourself/a sock puppet/whatever. What do you have to lose?
  5. A life lived in fear is a life half lived.

Most people are terrified by the thought of getting close to Great White Sharks. (Not to mention PAYING to get close to them)

But why???

Movies have given a harsh prejudice against Great White Sharks- which I would like to address today. Listen to my experience cage diving with the Great White Sharks off Gansbaai, South Africa.

I want feedback! Give me your comments, questions, concerns. What do YOU want to hear?

Send me an email at LN.Lurie(at) yahoo.com

or tweet @hydrix13

Thanks to John Williams for the Jaws soundtrack and Dexter Britian for his music contribution.

Listen to my latest episode!