Blog

How to Survive South Africa

5 November 2007

In the spirit of public service, the Proprietor offers a few humble words of advice, having just wrapped Skin, and having been in South Africa four years in a row.

  • Leave all preconceptions, prejudices, idée’s-fixes etc behind. South Africa will confound all of these and more. It is the most surprising country on earth — a place of miracles and optimism, despair and anger. Everything you thought about it will be turned on its head several times a day.
  • Read as much as you can about its history and culture. And ask — everyone has a story.
  • Do not fly British Airways.
  • Ten years ago, many South African wines were unpalatable (Note: the Proprietor has probably never come across a wine that is actually undrinkable.) This is rapidly changing. As a rule of thumb, many S.A. Chardonnays and big reds are splendid. But avoid Sauvignons and Pinot Noirs; the savvys are often insipid and the pinots apparently a different grape altogether. The Proprietor recommends RAKA wines.
  • Carry a bottle of Two Paddocks Lavender Essential Oil. Good for morale, scrapes, burns and for repelling mosquitos.
  • Go see as much South African music as you can, and take it home with you. Perhaps the world’s most exciting music. Try Jonas Gwangwa, Busi Mhlongo, Bayete, Ringo, Thandiswa, and Simphewe Dana.
  • South Africa sports some excellent and funny wine labels e.g. “The Chocolate Block,” “Goats do Roam” “Fat Bastard.” When offered another glass of the latter, check if the offerer has put a comma in the sentence. There is a wealth of difference between “More Fat Bastard?” and “More, fat bastard?” If the latter, do not hesitate to take offence and stern measures.
  • Try to avoid being a victim of crime. If you are, in South Africa the consequences can be very dire. Exercise caution.
  • Leave some money behind for those, particularly children, who suffer from AIDS and poverty.
  • Consider yourself privileged to be in such a beautiful country, among some of the best people on earth (of all colours and language).

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