I was looking at my dashboard and noticed that this was post 1500… 1500 how can that be!!! And I thought I would post this one for all the kids out there whose folks read our blog. Because my kids are blog-kids they get questions from other children of bloggers all over the world asking them about living in Africa. Questions for school projects and questions out of curiosity… today we are going to tackle some of them.
I need to just introduce our country a little bit and say that while South Africa is part of Africa it is a land full of contrasts and diversity. It is largely a third world country with the vast open plains of the picture books, it is also a first world country with big busy cities. There are places in our country where you would not believe that the modern world with running water and electricity in your home exist… and then there is the first world part where there are many cities where you would not know that you were not in a typical western country.
- Do you have elephants where you live and do you see them often?
- Are there cars where you live?
- Does it snow where you live?
- Do you play with Lego’s and ride bikes?
- Do we live near to the Grasslands or the Jungle?
- Do you have special holidays in South Africa?
- Do we play sports here:
- Do Have a Special South African Outfit?
Honestly no, the only real live elephant my children have ever seen was when they visited the London zoo. Sorry about that! And we haven’t seen lions either. If we wanted to see any of the Big Five Animals then we would have to go and visit a game park. Most of these are up country from us and are fairly expensive, so we have never been to one.
But we do see whales during the winter, they come in to the bay where we live to have their babies. We do have a penguin colony very close to our home, about two beaches away and we visit that quite often. We also get porcupines that uproot our garden sometimes and we do get troops of baboons wandering through our vegetable patch and devouring everything in site.
We also get a lot of snakes… little brown house snakes and really big fat mole snakes – euch. I do not like them, but hood #6 loves all animals and often keeps them inner bug box for a day or two. We also get dangerous snakes, but they tend to be either more colorful or aggressive than the regular ones – so we leave them well alone. We also get large spiders and very occasionally we find scorpions.
There are two kinds of Africa… the rural Africa where folks don’t have much and they live in remote villages and then there are wealthy cities which look and feel like most western cities. Of course there is the whole range of economic groups in between. The wealthier folk in our country couldn’t imagine life without a car as most places are not close to each other… people may drive an hour or so to work each day and public transport isn’t great. There is a huge part of our population that don’t have cars and they have to make use of the much less than fabulous public transport system.
We live in the city… well quite a way out of the city… beyond the major suburbs… in a town at the beach and most people we know have a car. We don’t have a car right now and it has been fun to get around our town without one… most of the places we need to go are within walking distance: the library, the beach, the store, the post office. The father person has a car but just for work, that he drives to and from the city center each day, but it is much too small for all of us.
Mostly our weather is glorious sunshine… lots and lots of it all year round. Even in winter when it can be cold and rainy there are plenty of sunshiny days, which are perfect for the beach because it is totally empty!!! Cape Town is a little bit different to the rest of South Africa, we have our own special weather, we live in what is called a Mediterranean climate… So cold and rainy winters and hot sunny summers. Our summer is during December, January and February, which is the opposite to most of our readers who have a cold Christmas. Here is a look at todays weather:
So snow on the ground would be a no. But on the mountain tops we may get a smattering in mid-winter. My kids have never seen or played in the snow (I have been to Antarctica and have had my fair share of snow). Most of our readers live in the Northern Hemisphere and would not consider the cold we have to be that cold at all. But really it is cold for us. As South Africans we like to think we never have cold weather and that it is always sunny – so we don’t prepare well for winter at all. We may all have a warm top, but we certainly don’t all have raincoats and we definitely don’t own an umbrella (though I think my kids would think it was very fun to own one) and there is no such thing as central heating, most people don’t even have free-standing heaters as electricity is expensive.
We have petty much the same toys and games that you do, remember first world cities where you can get the latest books and toys. Lego is definitely the favorite toy in our house. My little kids love to play with their wooden cooking toys and wow toys. Yes kids here have bikes and we love riding bikes up and down the driveway and sometimes we all go out in our road but it can get a little crazy!!! We also love to read a lot, but books are very expensive here – all books are the same price as yours plus the price of shipping. We make very good use of the library and my older kids read a lot of books on our Kindle, it is much cheaper to buy kindle books than real books. We do play a lot of games: Monopoly and Cluedo, mostly chess and otherwise lots of word games like bananagrams and boggle.
Neither actually, we live on the Cape Peninsula which is a little jutting off piece of land near the south of Africa. It is a actually special in that it has one of the worlds smallest and most bio-diverse floral kingdoms. So we have plants called vynbos (pronounced: fain, like faint without the t and bos, like box with an s), which are quite rugged hardy plants that don’t need a lot of watering. While there is no jungle we do live on a mountain slope above a fabulous beach. We do go up the mountain from time to time… there are rocky stairs all the way to the top. But we go to the beach, which is about a two minute walk from our house, much more often.
We do have public holidays, but they are mostly seen as a day off work to relax rather than the big holidays we see celebrated with parades and festivals overseas. South Africa is such a wildly diverse country, we are not called the Rainbow Nation for nothing, with tons of different people groups, languages and religions. So it is quite hard to unify the whole country to celebrate a particular holiday in a particular way – other than to relax or head to the beach. All South Africans are good at that!!! The one thing that all South African’s are unified on is National Braai Day: A braai is similar to what you would call a barbecue, but a lot more rugged!!! On National Braai Day, in the Spring, the whole country will pretty much have a braai and celebrate with friends and then continue with braais throughout the summer!!!
Oh yes… Some countries might think they are sporty and then there is South Africa – where sport is all consuming. As a nation we watch cricket all summer and rugby all winter and soccer all year round. If our national team is playing in anything then the country pretty much slows down to a stop!!! So shops and businesses may not close but they aren’t exactly actively serving you either! We are also mad for ultra-events and host the biggest timed cycling race in the world, and millions of people have the dream, and fulfill it, of running the 90 km Comrades marathon. Cape Town has its own ultra marathon, the 56 km Two Oceans Marathon which is run by thousands of people from all over the world at Easter Time every year!
And the se7en + 1th question:
We wear the same clothes as most folks around the world, jeans or shorts and t-shirts. South Africans in general are very casual dressers. The most quirky difference in our clothes, and I have blogged about this before: we don’t wear shoes a lot here… there are often times when my kids may outgrow their pair of shoes and it will be months before I think to go and buy another pair!!! In fact there is a huge school down the road where none of the kids wear shoes to school. My kids mostly wear slip-slops if they have to go out to church… but as soon as they are seated they kick them off!!!
I hope that this helps… and clears up a lot of questions you may have. If you have any other questions we would so love to hear from you!!! We love answering questions from kids around the world – it is so fun to see what you are curious about!!!
If you have written us a letter with specific questions… then your letters and all pending packages and giveaways are in a pile on my kitchen counter. If you have been a winner and not yet received your prize… it is on the way and it will all be posted at the end of the month. Hope you all have a fabulous weekend!!!