Traveling surprises  

tweedledum99 40M
55 posts
5/21/2006 7:56 pm

Last Read:
5/24/2006 9:48 pm

Traveling surprises

I did a wee bit of exploring of a few other blogs today... and of course one reminded me of a few of my experiences abroad:

I've hinted occasionally about my work abroad. I lived and worked in E. Africa for some time volunteering as a teacher and, as it were, local "fundi". What, you say? Fundi - colloquially a "jack of all trades" or "fixer-upper". If you go to a dictionary, it in fact describes the profession of sewing... let that be an introduction to the curious nature of the Swahili language. Over time I had grown quite accustomed to the way of life there - and to the relative homogeneity of class. The wealthy are far and few outside of the large cities. Everyone farms. Most were proud, most were generous.

On leaving my host country, I took a route that brought me through much of sub-saharan Africa. Through most, though language changed, life usually reflected that African flavor that I become accustomed to. Even Gaborone, till then the most developed city I had visited, was very African in flavor, even with amenities like pizza delivery. It didn't feel strange to cram into a mini-bus to get someplace.

This all changed on entering South Africa... Much of the architecture and development struck me as European in flavor. The bus station was clean and modern. The trains were maintained and efficient.Fast food, Grocery stores, and shops were all... well, Western. (Steers isn't bad, really... beats McDonald's anyway) But... just outside of the city... the shanty towns were more squalid than ANYTHING I have ever... EVER... seen.I was absolutely amazed by the bigotry of the whites of South Africa. I know there is bigotry in the USA, but the tone of racism in South Africa is so overt... When I tried to take a mini-bus - It was as if I was the first white that had ever thought to take one. On the train - I took third class. For the first time in a long time, I was keenly aware of the color of my skin, and that I was the only white in that class. I'm a pretty resourceful person... and over the course of that train ride I parlayed a drunk who insisted that I should give him employment into a discussion on religion and language.

I am a lover of history, and there is so much there that brought the past of the racial divide in America to mind. It was as if, by being an outsider, I was seeing the dirty secrets of both sides...

angelofmercy5 60F
17881 posts
5/21/2006 8:39 pm

This was such an interesting blog! Thanks for posting it.

sassybelle21 33F  
13313 posts
5/22/2006 8:05 pm

Come to Malaysia and be my teacher

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