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5 Weird Things About South Africa (that are completely normal to South Africans)


1. Car Watchers

Anytime you park your car somewhere in South Africa, there will most likely be some man sitting or paroling the parking lot whose job is to watch your car while you're gone. Oftentimes he will say hi which kind of acknowledges that he will be looking after it. I believe some of these men are actually hired by the shopping centers while others have just taken them upon themselves to earn some change (it's sort of like a fancy and more useful way of begging).

2. Card Machines

The way you pay for your dinner (with a card) at a restaurant is completely different in South Africa. In America you typically give your card to the server where they whisk it away to some magical place to pay for your meal and then return the receipt slip where you indicate how much tip you would like to give. This also avoids the awkward situation of letting your server know how bad of a tipper you may be until you are far away from their presence. In South Africa, the server brings the card machine to your table and you tell them exactly how much (including tip) for them to charge. Their new credit cards even have a pin that you have to type in before you can pay. For some reason this at first seemed to me quite primitive and slow, but I'm slowly starting to acclimate to this way of doing things. My boyfriend jokingly said that if you just gave someone your card the way we do in America, in South Africa you would probably often not get it back. This makes a good point. I don't know much about banking, but it seems like South Africa might have one upped Americans on the banking card security.

3. Barefoot Kids

I didn't notice this one until my second trip to South Africa. Likely because my first trip was in the middle of winter when it was actually necessary to wear shoes to keep your feetsies warm. But really, kids will walk around in public places like malls and restaurants barefoot. This trend seems to apply to kids from all races and  economic backgrounds. Personally I find it weird and a bit gross, but a part of me thinks that I'm just jealous since my eight year old self would have loved to let my feet go au'natural everywhere.

4. Electric Fences

South Africa is known for having high levels of crime. While I've personally never felt unsafe here in South Africa  (at least not any more unsafe than I have in other parts of the world) there does tend to be a lot of crimes such as theft and hijacking. That being said, electric fences around homes and communities are pretty much the norm here. This definitely seemed pretty foreboding and military-esque at first, but you quickly accept them as an aesthetically not so pleasing necessity of life.

5. No Garbage Disposals

This is something that South Africa lacks which I think most people here would agree would actually be super useful. I'm sure that some people have garbage disposals here, but of all the people I've talked to it's not the norm.  You either have to finish all the crumbs on your plate or throw your scraps into the trash before putting your dishes in the sink.  If you don't you'll be left with a gross gunky mess that you'll manually have to pick out of the drain (something I've unfortunately learned from personal experience). Things like this makes you appreciate the little things that you never really realize are a huge deal.

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