Kidnapping is, of course, a serious issue, that’s why I lucky cannot answer this question properly, but being ‘talked’ into a Jeep in the parking lot that has a surfboard inside after some first resistance is actually quite a nice experience – I call it KINDnapping 🙂
I will come back to this story, but first of all, as the educated reader might have noticed: I am writing this blog article in English. English is not my first language (and definitely not my last), so mistakes or unpleasant sentence structures are coming ahead – please beware. Maybe even misunderstandings will occur and I hope to get some questions from your side if that happens.
However, I gained the confidence to write in English through my experience here. South Africa has 11 official languages and the majority of South Africans have one first language, so how will you ever prevent a situation like described above if you’d like to speak up? You won’t – exactly. And you shouldn’t.
Most of what we are communicating is channeled through non-verbal language anyway and this is why understanding across cultures can become difficult. I realized that in my Portuguese class. Yes, news number #1, I am learning Portuguese every Tuesday to be able to ask for a nice surfboard in Portuguese next month, when I will be surfing the Indian Ocean, learning how to dive, dancing a lot of Kizomba and having cold Manica beers watching the sunset in Mozambique. In my Portuguese class, which is held in English, we built sentences like ‘Em dezembro, faz calor e é verão’ (In December it is hot and it is summer). I strongly disagreed with this assumption, saying that, no, wait, in December it is clearly winter because this is how I learned it in first grade in primary school. From then on this assumption was reassured every year, again and again. There was no need to call it into question, until now, since I am living at another spot on out beautiful globe, where things look differently. I felt, that this is quite a good comparison of how stereotypes work in our heads. You tend to affirm thought easily because affirming is the quickest and easiest path to an answer. Through affirmation you internalize thoughts. Once you leave your comfort zone, your little world, where things SEEM to work the way you affirmed they do, you are forced to unlearn oversimplified images or idea of a particular type of person or thing.
This morning I woke up to my alarm, that I had promised to set at 7.40 to go for a run in the mountains with my roommate Jess. It had gone off at 7.43 (sometimes I am a bad girl, anticipating that I will need these 3 minutes extra). Luckily Jess and I have quite something in common and take our time commitments both as serious as the other. So I found myself sneaking into Jess’s room, surprising the sleeping beauty with a cup of coffee. After our morning 5k through the beautiful Stellenbosch suburbs (we did not make it to our usual 7.5k mountain routine), I was being picked up by some wonderful inspiring friends to go surfing J
An hour drive away from Stellenosch, passing the outliers of Khayelitsha, the largest and fastest-growing township of South Africa, and driving through green hills facing the mountains and the ocean at the same time, you find the cozy chilled surfer spot of Muizenberg. One fancy coffee shop next to a surfer’s shop, next to a surfer’s shop WITH a barista, some international food places, viby bars like the striped horse and the postcard motive colorful wooden houses at the beach, add to Muizenberg’s relaxed atmosphere.
A few practice sessions in the sand helped me to get more excited about the waves and I actually managed to stand up on the board three times. This experience of success was celebrated by some happy swimming in the sun afterward and a Red Cappuccino with the guys. The day could not have been better, even though I spilled half of the coffee over myself when I was happy listening to TADOW by Masego in the car, clapping on the surfboard with the windows down.
But the day still got better. I was dropped off at the Craft Beer Festival at the John Marais Park in Stellenbosch. My highlight: The non-stop sunshine, the free beer tastings and a Jamaican-Simbabwean Reggae Ska band playing the Sting cover ‘Zimbabwean in Cape Town’ and me dancing happily with a beer in my hand with my new Zimbabwean and South African friends. After we shared good views and life dreams, claiming on the importance of not dropping our respective countries problems under the table, like right-wing extremism in Germany and persistence of apartheid in South Africa, we had gotten to know each others social commitment and ideas quite well and went for a stroll through the beautiful Nature Reserve.
I never felt so close to Bob Marley, when Shane (who is a visual artist under the nickname reggaesquirrel), explained that back in 1980, when Bob Marley came to Zimbabwe to give a huge concert (Amandla Festival of Unity) to support Zimbabwe’s independence, his Math’s teacher smoked weed with the legend himself. While he told us the story, a great reggae band was playing some covers live in the background.
After that, I walked home with my lovely half German roommate Heidi, who had dressed up properly in her Dirndl for the beer festival and her roommate Shaun in a beautiful Stellenbosch Sunset. We enjoyed the walk so much that we suddenly found ourselves on the ground of the Stellenbosch University Arts Museum with the gates around us locked. How does the quote say? You learn how to swim being pushed into the water? Well, you also learn how to climb by being locked into gates.
Back to where this story started. Being kindly kidnapped – thus being KINDNAPPED to get just one last beer when you are actually wearing your jogging pants to go to bed, is sometimes necessary, because our time and our great days like these are limited, so at least make them last as long as possible in the end it is always in our hands to choose.
Tennesse Williams, the same author you might remember from your English classes when you’ve read ‘a streetcar named desire’ put it the following way:
Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.
I feel, I perform very well in the first part of this quote and even better on the second one, considering the amazing friends that I have. Dear friends in Europe, I am checking flight right now and I cannot wait to see you back in DECEMBER and JANUARY. Dear friends in MEXICO, I am counting the days. Since I will be participating in a conference in Mexico City the 26/27th of THIS month (October), I will see you very soon. Dear people in Brazil, I have two layovers in Sao Paolo, we ready to be converted into friends soon J
What else have I been up to lately around Stellenbosch?