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Thursday, 06 November 2008

South African Culture at Eye Level - Page 3

Written by Jessica Borges
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While trips to tropical islands or tourist-studded hot spots have their appeal, some travelers opt to go the non-traditional route to quench their travel thirsts. For one Boston resident, a trip to South Africa was a goal she had for years. In hopes of getting a glimpse of the unique culture, meeting the native people, and taking in the surrounding sites, Kaitlin Kirwin packed her bags with friend, Laurel Fulham for a 10-day adventure in Durban and Cape Town, South Africa. A large part of the trip was spent with friends who volunteered to teach in South Africa for a year, giving Kaitlin the kind of exposure to South African culture she had hoped for.

inTravel: How was it dealing with the language barrier?

Kaitlin: South Africa was an English colony to begin with; they have a lot of Zulus which is another group of African people who speak Zulu, but everyone does speak English. I wouldn’t even say there was a language barrier; I was amazed at just how quickly the kids could switch from Zulu to English. Same with white South Africans switching from having conversations in Afrikaans to English. English was the spoken language and I don’t know if that was just them taking into consideration that they were talking to Americans or if that’s what they typically do. The kids are also encouraged to speak English and practice as much as possible. Language really wasn’t an issue with taxi drivers or hotel staff either. We learned some phrases while we were there and the kids in the classroom helped us with terms like ‘thank you,’ ‘how are you?’ and those types of things. Pronunciation-wise there are a lot of clicks in the language and you almost have to retrain your mouth on how to form words.


inTravel: Would you recommend this trip to others? Would you go back?

Kaitlin: I would definitely recommend going to Cape Town. Durban is somewhere where you’d have to know someone there to visit. Next year they are hosting the World Cup and holding games in every major city in South Africa. With the World Cup coming up I’d highly recommend it to anyone trying to go there. It’s also very inexpensive once you get there. You could get a three-course meal with drinks and tip for the equivalent of $10 here in the states. The food there is good too; we didn’t try too much local food but there were certain restaurants where you could try wild game (like zebra or those types of animals). They had some very exotic and native-to-Africa kinds of foods, but we didn’t try any of that. For the most part we ate a lot of curry, rice and beans.

South African Culture at Eye Level, Durban, Cape Town, South Africa, travel Durban, travel Cape Town, travel South Africa, Table Mountain, South African culture, teaching school Durban, Kaitlin Kirwin, Laurel Fulham, Jessica BorgesI definitely want to go back, but I’d like to go back for a few months. Cape Town seemed like place where you could spend a significant part of your life there and still not do it all. I’d also like to go back when it’s warmer so I could really enjoy their beaches. We went in September and Durban was mild. In Cape Town we were able to wear shorts but at night it got chilly. We never went in the water in Cape Town but we did go swimming in Durban. The Indian Ocean is beautiful! During the day temperatures in Cape Town hovered around the 50’s and 60’s and at night it was around 40 to 50 degrees. For most part the air was still fairly warm.


inTravel: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced?

Kaitlin: I really missed iced coffee! I didn’t really have any in South Africa because it wasn’t very good. But in general, I really enjoyed being out of Boston and out of America and it was refreshing to just be surrounded by different people in a different atmosphere.


inTravel: What did you like best?

South African Culture at Eye Level, Durban, Cape Town, South Africa, travel Durban, travel Cape Town, travel South Africa, Table Mountain, South African culture, teaching school Durban, Kaitlin Kirwin, Laurel Fulham, Jessica BorgesKaitlin: Climbing Table Mountain in Cape Town with Laurel. It took close to two hours and was an extremely strenuous climb. I’d recommend being in shape before doing it because it’s like being on a stair master on the side of a mountain for two hours. There was a cable car you could take to the top but it’s not as gratifying as doing the hike. It’s one of most amazing views. After you make it to the top, it’s so gratifying and there is an unbelievable view of the whole city. Everyone recommended it to us as a popular thing to do there.


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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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