Let me introduce you to this beautiful place.
I’m on top of the world! Those few words explain the feeling of reaching the top of Table Mountain. Now don’t think I’m all tough and hiked the entire mountain, because to be honest I just took the cable car (a small price to pay for saving loads of time).
The “aerial cableway” can take as many as 65 people at a time and has rotating floors – so if you thought being flown in a little cable car hanging from a wire going almost 3,500 feet into the atmosphere was frightening add a lot of people and a constantly moving floor to it. Let’s just say it is not the most relaxing ride, but the views make up for it. Looking out on my way up the mountain completely took my breathe away; I was utterly speechless until I got back on the ground. Immediately below the cable car is the vibrant city of Cape Town and to the left are some of the most stunning beaches in the world like Camps Bay and Clifton.
Yesterday I had the incredible opportunity to visit Kwantu Elephant Sanctuary, which is part of the larger game reserve, about 30 minutes outside of Grahamstown, South Africa. The reserve is home to 21 elephants (or 5 – the website said 5, but our tour guide said 21) who have almost 15,000 acres of land to spread out on, along with many other animals. Despite the terrain remaining true to what their usual habitat would be like, they are still fenced in and trained – hence the use of quotation marks around “wild”.
Grahamstown is composed a few main streets flaunting several mouth-watering restaurants and bumpin’ pubs. It’s a college town so although during the day the streets are filled with locals doing their shopping and selling items on the street, at night it is much of a party town especially on Fridays. For some reason, which is unbeknownst to me, Wednesdays (but not Saturdays) are also a huge party night.
Getting to know Grahamstown requires a map or someone who knows where their going because it does have a moderately puzzling street composition. The scenery can change quite rapidly if you’re not paying attention, and although I enjoy seeing all aspects of life in Grahamstown, a mirage of “ay-bay-bay” or “hey sista, coins?” following me to KFC is not my favorite thing.
Grahamstown, South Africa is what students call a “bubble” – drastically different from the rest of South Africa and more like a Western college town than anything else. But go a couple blocks away from the main town center and you’ll see the deep disparities between the so-called haves and have-nots. I learned this while getting lost – classic Emma. I also learned that just because most people speak English, slang and accents can sometimes make it utterly impossible to understand even the most basic phrases.
In a country with eleven official languages sticking to American English will put you at a significant disadvantage when trying to get the best prices and also to prevent yourself from looking like a complete tourist. In the Eastern Cape, Afrikaans and isiXhosa are the main languages aside from English spoken so a lot of common everyday words like yes or no come from either language. South Africans are all about making things quick and easy so odd abbreviations (to us) are also common. Additionally they spell all English words with the British spelling (as well as speaking with a slightly British accent). Below are some words/abbreviates that my boyfriend who is currently studying there pointed out.
- Res. – residence hall, this one is probably strictly used when referring to campus life and I really wish it was common and understood here in the US as well. I like it.
- Braai – barbecue
- How’s it? – basically means “what’s up?” or “how are doing?” just a much shorter way of saying it. It’s almost like they’re hello because a lot of times it’s more of rhetorical question than anything.
- Ja (pronounced like ya) – yes in Afrikaans
- Ewe (pronounced eh-weh) – yes in isiXhosa
- Just now – means more like 20 minutes from now… their “now” is very loose, it really never means like seriously really doe NOW, in the way that it does in America
- Now now – sooner than just now, but still like 10 minutes in the future. Oh Africa time…
- Vac. – vacation
- Shame – a sympathetic remark, I picture it coming hand and hand with the shaking of one’s head sympathetically.