Thoughts on common sense

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I thought common sense is called that because it’s something the majority would regard as smart or correct. But travelling has taught me, that for different countires, you also have to use different degrees of common sense and sometimes it’s worth it to ask again, how their common sense looks like. For example the other night, I was invited to an African braai (another word for bbq) because it was a girls’s going away party. I had only just met the people who invited me that day but everybody is just so friendly here in Umzumbe. So, anyways, I was there and we were talking about how the current safety situation in South Africa is and a girl says, you know, it isn’t any more dangerous as other places if you just behave normal and use common sense. Sounds completely logical to me. But so, I asked her whether she would walk home alone after dark. I meant to add “in Johannesburg“ because I heard that it can be dangerous there but I couldn’t finish my sentence, she right away jumped in “No, of course not! I wouldn’t even walk on my own for five minutes, like here, that’s just something you don’t do.” We were only a five minute walk from the surf house. There only is one road here and everything else is beach and jungle, it’s not like there should be a lot of drunken creeps hiding in the bushes. But you have to listen to these things as a foreigner and therefore I was glad that people here always drive you to places without you even having to ask, just because that’s how you do that here. So much for my common sense. In Switzerland and in many European cities any gender could come and go as they please at any time of the day or night. It would be quite a sad shock if you got stabbed. And I know the basics like: “don’t walk around and look like you have a lot of money or expensive possessions and don’t leave your bag unattended.” But here, we even have to hide our flip flops in the bushes when we go surfing, because apparently, they have been stolen before. I guess, this time it’s not just the tourist guide that tells us these things but the locals actually follow these rules quite strictly, too. Therefore, when I saw a public bus driving by I dismissed the thought of taking that one up to Johannesburg very quickly. It probably would be cheaper and a lot more entertaining but I already learned in Honduras that in some countries, it’s just not safe to use the normal public transport. There, we needed to get from the harbor back to San Pedro Sula and the normal bus was $20 cheaper than the tourist bus. It took my friend Dimitri quite some time and energetic words to convince me, that it really wasn’t safe to ride with the locals because the chance of getting robbed, into an accident or even murdered was so high. These things are sometimes hard to understand for a Swiss person, where even children can ride the buses and trains on their own. But even in that sense, I learned a lot during the past year and I now try to adapt to the local common sense right away if somebody suggests completely unnecessary sounding boundaries to me.

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Yesterday, the ocean had been much calmer. So calm in fact, that there were hardly any waves. But I at least caught a vew good ones 🙂 Today it was a completely different story again. Strong onshore winds that make the ocean very rough but kill all the nice waves. Unfortunately, I therefore had to take a break from surfing and we went on a hike in Oribi Gorge instead. There is a famous gorge swing and a long suspension bridge but we hiked in the less touristy part. All the pictures are from the hike today. Now I keep my fingers crossed, that my surf luck will be slightly better for my remaining days here.

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Welcome to the South Coast of South Africa

Leaving alone to go travelling seems to become harder every time. It’s just so much nicer if you can share the journey with somebody who means something to you as well and not just the destinations (with all the new nice people you get to meet). Because, isn’t as they say the journey the reward? And I was looking at a long stretch of road ahead of me.

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First, I took the train to Frankfurt. Luckily, nobody was on strike this time and I arrived at the airport, with my three hour time cushion still intact. Therefore, I had enough time to enjoy an ice cream and watch the planes land and take off from the visitor terrace.

The Emirates flight to Dubai was agreeable as always and thanks to them, I even had a free meal at DBX. I previously read on the internet, that if you have a layover that’s longer than four hours, you can get a free meal voucher at information desk H, right near gate B18. I guess I qualified for that with my 10 hours. Nobody has ever told me about that, but still, I wasn’t the only person who knew about this by far.
Since my layover was during the night, there wasn’t really any point in leaving the airport (especially when the airport shops are open 24/7) and I mostly tried to catch some sleep. There are loads of these uncomfortable chairs that are enclosed by armrests on both sides but there also are a lot of almost bed-like chairs. So even for me it was possible to sleep for a while.
From time to time I was tempted to hop on a plane that was going to Melbourne. I miss that place. But I stuck to my plan and already met many nice South African people at the gate.

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8 hours later I landed at King Shaka airport in Durban. Already that name made me feel like I stepped right into Lion King country. It took me about an hour to get through the health checks and security. They take that serious here! We even got sprayed with disinfectant on the plane.
It was already dark night at 6pm and cool 14 degrees (compared to the unusual heatwave we had in Switzerland), well yes, its winter here but apparently, it isn’t usually that freezing here because all the locals were complaining. Winter is supposed to be the best time of the year to come surfing here, though, and again, I only ran into friendly people after I landed. An usher in front of a coffee shop even offered me a free coffee, since I didn’t have time to sit down. (Probably I also just looked too pitiable after 34 hours of travelling. The surf house had arranged a seat on a shuttle bus for me and so the pick-up and transport worked out perfectly (180 ZAR on the Margate coach).

Finally, I arrived at the Surfhouse in Umzumbe. A warm dinner was waiting for me and all the people here are really nice and relaxed. The surfhouse is very cute and decorated like you imagine a true beach cottage for surfers. Plus, they have awesome strong and hot showers! There is a beautiful green lawn in front of the house and right behind it is the beach with the waves. I can hear the waves from my room, it’s wonderful.

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Now it’s the evening of my second day. I’ve been surfing twice but that unfortunately hasn’t worked out too well yet. The ocean here is so powerful that it’s quite scary and actually not an ideal place for somebody who still has to learn a lot. Hopefully, it will get better during the next days. But it was awesome that already during the first hour, I saw a big group of dolphins and several whales (it’s whale season here). Today again, I saw whales splashing and jumping at the horizon. As long as the sharks stay behind the net line, I’m fine with that.

After the straining “survive” paddle lesson in the morning, I enjoyed a wonderful afternoon in the hammock and just watching the ocean and enjoying the beautiful colors. I would never get to see something like that if I haven’t left home. Plus, I already got to enjoy some Savanna Ciders in good company, as everybody here is very open and welcoming. That’s why you should travel, even if you are the only person in your environment who still has vacation days left, or nobody else has the money to accompany you. There is so much to see, learn and enjoy. Plus, I don’t have to complain this time, as Michèle will meet me in Victoria Falls in 10 days. Looking forward to seeing you!

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Things that are logical but I wasn’t aware off before I reached South Africa:

  • They drive on the left side of the road like in Australia and England
  • The sun sets early in winter (already at around 5pm)
  • Even though I’m not in a game park, there are wild animals like monkeys and big lizards sitting on the trees
  • “just now” actually means “in a bit”
  • (there was more but I have forgotten for now)

The next adventure lies just around the corner

On 12. July I will fly to Durban, South Africa and go surfing and diving for 7-10 days. Afterwards, I’ll fly to Victoria Falls and start an 8 day safari towards Johannesburg. I’m very excited about finally being able to see some of the African wilderness. In the end, we will spend a few days in Johannesburg and 3 days in Krueger National Park.

Preparations are done and the only thing I still have to do is pack my bag. Plus, the question about whether to take a malaria prophylaxis or just an emergancy medicine is still not entirely answered. What do you think? Have you been to this area and what experiences have you made?

Check back here to find some pictures of the animals I will spot 🙂

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