Zululand

Trip Start Jun 21, 2007
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Trip End Aug 03, 2007


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Flag of South Africa  ,
Tuesday, July 24, 2007

After getting a little Swazi culture and seeing the rhinos I headed back to South Africa to experience a little Zulu culture. I spent 8 hours of the Sunday on the Baz Bus heading for the town of Eshowe, which is in the heart of Zululand. Arriving around 3:30 my day was pretty much spent so I headed to the bar of my hotel to watch the final round of the British Open. The bar was populated with mostly locals except for Val a 50 something school bus driver from Portland, Oregon, who when hearing my American accent when ordering a beer decided to sit next to me at the bar. After trading a few travel stories for a few minutes she went on to tell me her life story (Great --- I just wanted to drink a beer and watch a little golf). So there I was watching the golf, drinking a beer, and pretending to follow along with how shitty Val's life was when Scotty a bald, sixty something local, wearing a knee brace butted in.

Scotty: Excuse me, do you mind if I borrow some of your misses hair?
Paul: She's not my misses. Feel free to talk to her all you want. (Thank you Scotty!)
Scotty: Do you mind if I borrow some of your hair?
Val: What?
Scotty: You have such long beautiful hair and I don't have any, so I want to show my mates what I looked like when I had hair. (He proceeded to take the end of her hair and flop it on his head) See this is what I looked like with hair! (Everyone in the bar seemed to be amused, even Val).
Scotty: (looking at me) Damn you're a big guy. You ought to be playing for our rugby team.
Paul: I'm American, we don't play rugby.
Scotty: American, ah you play that sissy game with pads.
Paul: Yeah, we call it football.
Scotty: It's a sissy game with pads!
Paul: (figuring his mangled knee was a result of years of rugby) If I played rugby without pads I might have a banged up knee too.
Scotty: This isn't from rugby. This is from stepping on a landmine.
Val: How did you step on a landmine?
Scotty: Well the first time.
Paul: (quickly interrupting) First time! Didn't you learn not to step on land mines after the first time? What's your job?
Scotty: (pulling out his wallet to show me his police badge) Killing Caffers.
Val: (looking at me and a little puzzled) Hmm, I think I know that word.
Paul: Yeah it's the South African "N word".
Scotty: (looking at me): So, how many caffers have you killed?
Paul: Uh, none.
Scotty: (slapping at my stomach) What's that?
Paul: It's my money belt.
Scotty: (looking a little insulted) Hey I'm not (pointing at his black watch band), I'm (pointing at his hand).
Paul: Okay.
At this time Brad, a twenty-one year old who works at the hotel and whose job it is to show visitors around the area walks in and asks if we want to go to a shebeen.
Paul: What's a shebeen?
Val: It's an underground illegal drinking place.
Paul: (since the golf had just finished) Sure, sounds interesting.
Scotty: You don't want to go there. It's where the caffers drink.
Paul: (as I stand up and drink the last of my beer) Are we going now?
Brad: When your ready.
Paul: Let's go.
Scotty: (looking at me up and down now that I've stood up) Damn, your big. I'm glad your not black.
Paul: (slapping Scotty on the back)Yeah, right now so am I. If I was you might want to kill me.

They can talk about the "Rainbow Nation" all they want, but what I learned from this was that it's going to take many generations to change how some people in South Africa think.

The next day Brad drove me out to the local Zulu village to meet Walter, a 74 year old Zulu with 21 children, who I was to spend the day with walking around the village. We started at a local market that really wasn't a market, but since today was "Social Security Payday" all the old folks were lining up to get their monthly 870 Rand ($125) an informal market sprung up at the side of the road. Walter and I just sat around watching the events of the day unfold. In retrospect I think Walter just wanted to sit around and drink since it was market day the Zulu women were out with their homemade Zulu beer. After an hour of sitting around with a bunch of old Zulu guys who didn't speak a lick of English, but were more than happy to keep passing me the beer jug, Walter and I started our walk through the village. It really wasn't much of a village but more like a bunch of Zulu houses spread out over hills and valleys. I only wish Walter had told me we would be walking up and down hills when I was getting the beer jug passed to me. It was a nice walk though with some excellent scenery and Walter was quite informative about Zulu culture. After a couple of hours we stopped at one of his houses to eat lunch and have a language learning lesson (Walter trying to teach me some Zulu). At the completion of lunch we continued our walk over the hills towards a local shebeen while I practiced my newly learned Zulu phrases on people passing by. It was quite a nice day and I was happy because this is what I wanted to do when I was in Swaziland. Damn those quad bikes!
That evening I ended up at Shakaland (Zulu, Disney style and the location for the the filming of the movie Shaka Zulu) for a Zulu dance and buffet dinner. While eating the waitress asked if I enjoyed Shakaland. I informed her I was just there for the dance. She told me that I should come back to walk around the cultural village. I told her that I saw the real thing that day, once again reconfirming my happiness of the days events as I envisioned Shakaland during the daytime as no different than the Swazi Cultural Village. Like I previously wrote the best thing about the Swazi Cultural Village was the dance performance and just like in Swaziland, I wasn't disappointed with the Zulu dance performance.
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