Have you ever had that problem in Europe that you don’t know whether you greet a new person with one, two or three kisses on the cheek? Or how low do you bow your head in Asia or where do you put your hands? It can lead to awkward situations and not even knowing how the correct way of saying hello or goodbye to somebody can prevent you from that.
Here in South Africa it’s different. For saying goodbye, people just hug you. No matter if you just spoke to them for the first time five minutes ago and they probably wouldn’t even dream of the idea that a hug might make some people uncomfortable. It’s such a normal and certain thing, that also if you don’t know how people say goodbye to each other here, you will know it once it happens because if somebody slowly approaches you with wide stretched arms, you just know what is about to happen. I haven’t received so many hugs from different people in a long time. Ever since I left the US after my High School year, I thought that Swiss people just don’t hug enough. Lots of my foreign friends in Switzerland lament about the same thing.
The funny thing here was that when I said that in Switzerland we greet people with three kisses on the cheek, they were shocked how you can just kiss somebody you’ve just met. Even when I underlined that these kisses feel very formal and it’s not like you actually kiss the person, they couldn’t stop shaking their heads.
The remaining days at the Surfhouse I spent trying to catch some waves in the morning and then just relaxing at the beach or in the hammock in the afternoons. Unfortunately only Saturday had good surfing conditions for me, therefore I next time better stay somewhere along the Atlantic with smaller- or in Indonesia with less messy waves. For the weekend, a big group of friends came down to Umzumbe and brought some life into our family-feeling beach house. Again, these people from Durban were so nice and just invited me along to Braais (bbq), birthday celebrations and surf sessions. When they left again, it also meant for me that my first week in South Africa was coming to an end. A few days were laying ahead of me, where I hadn’t made any plans yet. Since surfing hadn’t really worked out as well as I had wished for, I decided that there was no point in staying in Umzumbe any longer and try my luck up north in Durban. Also, I heard that the nearby reef Aliwal Shoal belonged to the top dive sites in the world and so I couldn’t resist to add in a dive day, although it would become very expensive with all the transport I needed there. Three things I’ve learned here during this past week are that I need to stay relaxed and just make the best of things as they come, even if they aren’t how I expected them. Owning a car would make life so much easier and, if you come to South Africa, you need to like dogs or start liking them because everybody has dogs here in all sizes and they will all come visit you while you are reading a book at the beach. But I have to say that every single dog was extremely well behaved. They interacted perfectly with known and unknown people and dogs.