You often see these extreme health and safety picture meme’s with the caption ‘Only in Africa’ (Read: Only in Africa) and truth be told some of these (if not all) are very true. On the other hand there are times when the South Africans are totally ingenious and I’ve identified 6 things I truly love about South Africa.
You read correctly. Nearby my parents’ home is a really big Checkers Hyper (Sort of like a Tesco Extra) and at the entrance you pick up your shopping trolley. As you enter the store there is a Wet Wipe station where you can take a Wet Wipe and wipe the trolley’s handle bar before continuing into the store. I thought that was a truly ingenious brainwave for germophobes like me!
For the carnivores out there: you haven’t seen a butchery until you’ve seen a truly South African butchery. They have sections for everything: a rump section, sirloin section, a boerewors section, a cocktail sausage section, a ribs section, the list goes on.
For me, the most favourite part of these butcheries are the fact that they have massive crates of mince and whole pieces of different cuts at the counter and you can ask the butcher to cut you a piece or weigh out an exact amount. You can even buy whole, half or quarters of carcasses and get the meat processed exactly how you want it.
Vegetables in South Africa are just insane. It is not strange to see a guy with a bakkieload (pick up truck) of tomatoes selling it by the crate-full. The same goes for anything that is in season: oranges, naartjies, avocados. And don’t think you just buy one or two pieces of fruit; they come by the case!
Oh, and they’re huge too! In fact, farmers struggle to sell things like cabbages since they are so big that people don’t buy them…
In South Africa, if you live in a relatively small town you seem to know everybody. The same goes for the local corner shop. They do everything! Apart from the usual sweets/bread/milk, they take it one step further by baking their own bread! They make fish and chip take aways, they sell emergency supplies like firewood, gas and ice and last, but not least they bake fresh pancakes, vetkoek and make boerewors rolls.
In the UK drinking coffee is part of your morning ritual. Stop at Starbucks/Costa/Nero and pick up your cup of Joe.
(Read: The Perfect Cuppa)
In South Africa you will find that independent coffee shops is part of the culture. Starbucks only recently opened a branch in Sandton in Johannesburg, but thus far it has not spilled down to the rest of the country as people love their independent coffee shops full of character! Each little shop has its own little USP, the thing that makes them different from all the other coffee shops in town.
Each coffee shop is a true experience!
The one thing I can say about South Africans is that most are not lazy to work, but jobs are very hard to come by as unemployment is really high. Their ingenuity to create a job for a breadwinner to bring the bacon to the table is truly remarkable.
I’ve seen people creating ornaments out of beads and wire, carving animals out of wood and selling them next to the road. People even sell fresh fruit and vegetables next to the road. I’ve seen people whose sole job is to wave a flag to indicate the start of road works. There are even petrol attendants that not only fill up your vehicle, but wash your windows, check your water and oil levels and pump your tires whilst you wait!
One of the very best ideas is a Tuisnywerheid; a rented shop where home bakers and crafters can sell their products to the local community. They will bake cakes, biscuits, milk tarts, koeksisters and other yummy goodies and the shop owner will sell this on their behalf. Depending on the rules of the shop you can also sell your homemade handbags, tea cosies, pot warmers etc.
Do you have unique everyday things where you live that foreigners might find out of their ordinary? Let me know in the comments below!