Saturday, May 14, 2005

Email Update from South Africa

Hello everyone!
It's been almost a week since we've arrived, and Adrienne and I are having a great time! We've done a lot of new things and met some great people (and been to the beach three times!). Monday was our first day at work, where we met Bashi and Janine, our mentors for this summer. They are super nice and have been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work to prepare our research for us. Our apartment is awesome, and completely furnished. I hope to have some pictures online in the next couple weeks so you can see just how pretty it is! It was missing some essentials, like a can opener, cutting knives, and a spatula, but we've ironed out the bumps and are eating like kings! We should be going to two schools to be issuing our surveys, and we visit the first one next week. The office, CRISP, is located in an apartment in a building where all the apartments are now offices. I like the atmosphere, and it has high-speed internet! That's helpful in getting more research articles and such to help us in our project.

Tuesday was a very interesting day, because CRISP organized a city tour for us to get to know Durban. We saw an apartheid museum, Zulu culture museum, the downtown area of Durban, a market with a lot of curios (beadwork, clothing, spices), a traditional healer's market, walked around in a township near Durban and had a traditional Zulu meal of mealie pap (which we ate with our hands and was EXCELLENT). Apartheid is South Africa's former legal segregation; the word literally means "apart-ness" in Afrikaans, one of 11 official languages spoken in South Africa. Afrikaans is a mix of Dutch, English, and some traditional African words, and it's interesting for me because German and Dutch are so close, I can understand some Afrikaans. The Zulu culture museum was interesting, too. It was in the home of a white family that did a lot of ethnographic work in local Zulu and other villages in the area, and the beadwork was amazing. Downtown Durban actually reminded me a lot of Lima, Peru, but I think it's because of the style and quantity of cars and taxis (both cars and mini-van/microbus style taxis). The traditional healer's market had a lot of things that I had no idea what they were, because everything was written in Zulu. There were a lot of types of chopped wood, incense, animal parts, and things I literally could not discern. The highlight was definitely the skinned monkey hanging in the breeze... but I'm sure it will be used for something! The tour ended in the township of Cato Manor. A township is where, during the time of apartheid, all the black people lived. Although apartheid officially ended in 1994, you can still see where and how it still exists. It's almost like in the US when segregation officially ended in the 60's, but there are definitely still very segregated areas today. We ate dinner in the township. Dinner consisted of mealie pap, which is a white, starchy meal, with spinach and a sauce made of fresh-sliced tomatoes and some chili peppers. We ate with our hands, which was something new for me. The pap tasted really great, though, and Adrienne and I might try to make some at home (but we'll probably use spoons and cheat!).

Well, it's about 7:30 here, and I'm getting a little hungry, so Adrienne and I are going to get going and make dinner! We may go out tonight, but you know it's Friday the 13th... so we'll see ;-)

Write back so I know YOU are doing ok, too... ok?

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