I am no longer a reverse-vampire. I have to say, having a car makes all of the difference in the world in living at Mama’s in the Township. I was renting a car here and there to get to meetings, and it just gives such a measure of freedom that my Dutch roomie and I decided to go halfsies and keep the car until she goes home next week. And yes, driving a standard on the wrong side of the road does make me feel cool.
Walking around here is really unsafe. The family we stay with worries about our safety a lot, and most of the people I know here have been robbed. I had lunch last week with a man who had been stabbed twice on the weekend. No one here is free. Looking over your shoulder and being worried about theft and violence is part of the everyday. It sucks.
But that, of course, is only the crappiest part of living in the Township. I am much happier and having way more fun here than anywhere I’ve lived since arriving in SA. I’m making friends. I’m spending lots of time at Amazink and starting to feel like a welcomed temporary member of the community. And there are lots and lots of fun parts of life here, not the least of which is the amazing music (which will get a post all of its own one of these days when I get around to it).
I have a friend here called Patrick who took me out on Sunday to experience ‘real’ Township life. We went to a shebeen – a tin-shack pub tucked into a narrow alleyway with a pool table and a jukebox mounted on the wall. From there, we were invited to his friends’ house for the rest of the evening. The front door stood wide open and people and kids and dogs wandered in and out continually. The music was blasting and people took turns gathering some cash and darting out to the shebeen for more of the giant 1 liter bottles of Castle beer that stood lined up on the floor for anyone to help themselves.
Our hosts got me a glass to drink out of. According to Patrick it is not okay for me to drink out of a bottle after a man has, despite these all being communal bottles. I’m not sure if those rules apply to all women or just me. The lady of the house dug out a lovely crystal tumbler and washed and dried it thoroughly before handing it to me. At first I was embarrassed – I don’t want any special treatment! But I quickly realized that I would do the same thing for a guest that I wanted to make welcome in my home. That little house was full of laughing and singing and dancing. No pretensions. Just a ‘Sunday chill’ with neighbours.
Patrick made me promise repeatedly that I would publish that he is a Legend. And he is. He took wonderful care of me the whole day and made me feel welcome in a part of Township life that I would never have known about otherwise. He treats me a bit like porcelain, which we’re going to have to work on, but I’m pretty stoked to be hanging out on the other side of the fence for a change.
Patrick is a Legend. Even if he wouldn’t let me take his photo.