The negatives

Now if anyone knows that there are a lot of negatives no matter where you live in the world & pretty much life is what you make it – it’s me! Some of the negatives that I am going to list below are found in many places all over the world but most importantly some are definitely not! Having said that I am going to list my thoughts as I know that a lot of my readers want to hear ALL the details. I am continuously receiving mail from people asking for my opinion on ‘life in south africa’ & so here I plan to give an overview.

you’ve read the positives – now here are the negatives:

ISOLATION – literally & figuratively. south africa is far way from everywhere – not as far as australia of course but far never the less! most importantly for me personally it is extremely far away from the west coast of the united states where all my family live – a 28 hour journey to be exact & well no one in their right mind is attempting that with kids – pure suicide material! having said that it isn’t a bad flight to londres but the cost is enough to halt that idea very quickly! no such thing as last minute specials here – you want to leave the country… you pay! but rather more troubling you really are ISOLATED from the world. major happenings are unfolding in the world that effect all of us & well there’s a good chance you won’t hear about it at all or the news might trickle down a few days later to be found on page 6 of the newspaper whilst one of zuma’s wives’ (he has many) new car purchase makes the front headlines!!!! (I’m not joking!!!) at first I must admit I found this quite pleasant, as compared to london where you are bombarded with hectic news headlines day in & day out 24/7, it was quite refreshing not to have the noise & pretend like everything was ok (the much talked about ostrich / head in the sand syndrome that so many people here seem to suffer from!!!). only problem being that our world has become smaller & smaller & well what happens in one country can have deep ramifications for the entire world…. but south africans will only find out about it when it’s on their doorstep! personally i’d like a bit of warning!

COST OF LIVING is extremely high – especially in cape town – where for some reason the salaries are really low. apparently your salary is subsidized by the ‘view’… so much so that a job demanding a R50k salary in johannesburg will get you R30k in cape town – that’s how big the difference is. yet rentals, house prices, cars etc… are all cheaper in jhb!!! but even more frightening is that ‘like for like’ cape town is way more expensive than london!!!! a simple example (one that grates me every time I purchase them) is avocados. yip, avocado’s that are grown in south africa (!!!) – purchased in waitrose for 1.79p (‘ripe & ready’) are priced at R29.99 (2.50p) here!!!! what the????? an absolute joke!!!! and don’t even get me started on anything ‘organic’. if you’re lucky enough to find ‘organic’ you will pay an arm & a leg for it which really is unacceptable in this day & age! my grocery bill in london was two-thirds of what I pay here & the quality & choice of products was so much better. mortgage interest rates are so high in this country that barely anyone can afford to buy. if you can pay cash for a house you are laughing but if you can’t you’re pretty stuffed. a rental that would cost you R20k a month would cost you R40k a month if you bought – ridiculous! as a result a lot of people are left in limbo renting & that cannot be good for the overall economy or stability of the country. cars cost an absolute fortune here. i swear when we moved here i thought i’d be driving a range rover (yes, yes I am a bit delusional!!!) but the reality is i’m lucky to have a car at all! anyone who is planning to move back here i strongly recommend you bring your cars!!! as a result there are a lot of these matchbox size cars (death traps if you ask me) flying around & even those will set you back a cool R130k!

the SECRECY of it all. It used to drive me insane the way some of my friends would keep all their cards close to their chests (especially capetonian’s) not letting on about anything ‘new’ they’d discovered. i still find that concept difficult to deal with but the more time i spend here the more i completely understand why they do it. this town is so damn small, everyone knows everyone’s business (& being so small they actually make a point of knowing each other’s business!!!) & so when someone stumbles across a new little gem, or a secret hiding place where they can disappear to (be it a restaurant, a picnic spot, a hotel etc…) they don’t want anyone else to know about it! rather frighteningly even i, ‘miss blabbermouth’ have found myself doing this on the odd occasion!!!

the DRIVING! well i know that i have blogged about this a few times but i don’t think i could ever stress enough just how shocking the driving is in this country. just last week one black taxi crashed & 37 (!!!) people were killed!!!! i mean, how the hell did 37 people fit into the friggin taxi – frightening stuff! but even more frightening is last week i stepped out to cross bree street having looked for traffic when i almost got mowed down by a woman in her X5 flying down the wrong side of the road – the only reason i know it was a woman & what car it was because she eventually managed to screech to a halt 100m down the road in pure shock herself!!! everyone who was on the street froze including me!!!! every single part of me wanted to run down the road, pull her out of her car & beat her to within an inch of her life (fightclub style) but I was literally frozen to the spot trying to figure out whether I had in fact wet my pants or not! yesterday i saw a copper almost mow down a pedestrian he was driving so fast for no apparent reason…. so there we go. not sure there is much one can do about this MAJOR problem – you just have to be extremely vigilant & drive slowly to give yourself enough time to make decisions when some crazy does something unbelievable in front of you & well other than that you just have to hope for the best!

CLOTHES SHOPPING… well the less said, the better – probably because there is nothing to talk about. bottom line – the clothes are SHITE & they charge ridiculous prices for it!!! of course i once blogged about this fact & a girl berated me for my attitude saying that cape town had fantastic clothes… she also cited ‘monsoon’ & ‘next’ as her favourite stores in london…. i rest my case!

one of the most disturbing things i find is the POVERTY. but even more disturbing is how little is being done by this government to help these people. every time i drive out to the airport i shudder to think how these people live. i actually thought the shock of it would wear off after a while i.e. i wouldn’t find the shanty towns as disturbing…. but truth be told they never cease to shock me. as most of you know I don’t get involved in the politics here – it’s way too complicated – you’d have to study back 100 years to try & even make sense of some of it & well let’s face it, who could possibly ever make sense of a person like malema (!!!???). whilst the politics of this country don’t really bother me too much (quite simply it’s fucked & that’s that!) i do worry that nothing is being done by this government for it’s so called ‘own’ people. whilst these fatcat politicians are cruising around in the 500SL mercedes & their private jets 90% of their population are starving with no water & electricity!!! in such a wealthy country how can this be happening?

which brings me to the most disturbing part of this country – the CRIME. i hate to admit it but after being quite heated up about it all for quite a while i would be lying if i said I too didn’t start falling into the lull that is cape town in a bubble. i stopped locking my security gate immediately as i walked through the door, even found myself on the odd occasion driving home late at night by myself – things i would never have done a few months ago…. but hey, nothing had happened…. i could feel myself relaxing. then i go to lunch at a friend of a friend’s place in hout bay. as it happens the husband of one of the ladies attending the lunch owns one of the top security companies who patrol the atlantic seaboard. so the conversation turned to crime… as it does at a ‘ladies lunch’ in south africa…. this particular man had moved his family out of camp’s bay (after living there for 15 years) as the crime had become so rife & vicious that he would not have his family live there. they mentioned murders & armed robberies that had taken place in the past 2 years – some too hectic to even contemplate relaying. these amazing ladies, all of them mum’s, wealthy to boot sitting here calmly discussing recent crimes…. the hostess mentioning in passing the horrific murder that took place down the road from her house last year – apparently it was so bad she too could not go into detail – which really worried me as already we had been told awful stories, i mean how much worse could her story be!!!??? my only comment for pretty much the entire lunch was to then ask her (the hostess) if she felt safe in this massive property with her husband traveling as much as he does… to which she replied, oh yes, I feel totally secure, I have 6 foot electric fencing around the entire property, 2 x 24 hour security guards, cameras, security bars on all the windows, lasers in the garden & around the entire house & the house is fully alarmed…..!!!

yip, well there you have it….. safe as houses!