12 December 2008

navigating around

After years of resistance - and living in countries where I either knew my way around or where the road system was transitory, to say the least - I have finally succumbed to using a GPS navigator for the car (a "Navi" in German). It has made me aware of and transformed my hesitancy of getting around in South Africa, and made me more adventurous about using back roads in New Zealand.

Ever since we talked about going to Johannesburg we have been getting aghast looks and dire warnings about the danger of being out on the road in the murder capital of the World. Advice has ranged from keeping all doors locked and never going out after dark, to keeping a car length space at traffic lights so that in the case of a car jacking attempt it is possible to swerve past the car in front. It has made me hesitant to drive on my own. To be fair, the first few weeks in the crazy traffic of Dubai were pretty nerve-wracking, but there the issue was confined to being accidentalyy in on purpose being rammed by a speeding Landcruiser, not robbed and murdered on the open road, as people have been predicting.

All this has changed now that I have the dulcet tones of Sally the navigator telling me to "in 200 metres turn left" and "recalculating" when I miss a junction. She is amazingly easy to program and even lets me download my routes to my Mac when I return so I always knew where I went. The fear of getting lost is gone now so I know whatever else happens I will aways find my way home.

09 December 2008

And you think the Belgiums have it hard...

This is only a selection of the 11 official and 9 unofficial languages
of South Africa:

Rabbits or reindeer

These are on sale in the Christmas section as Santa Claus on his sled
drawn by reindeer. I fear we are being sold Easter leftovers. Or
tradition is wrong and the sled is really drawn by hares. What do you
think, scam or misunderstanding?

05 December 2008

The Essentials

I guess I have found my local supermarket. It's essential, obviously, once we get over eating out, but often surprisingly hard to find. While there are plenty of multinational chains (Carrefour in Dubai, Spar in Johannesburg) it sometimes takes a few attempts to find the place with the right food at the right price. Surprisingly here it turns out to be Woolworth. They may be going bust in the UK, but here they are the local equivalent of Marks and Sparks fool hall. So far the other places I have tried are either too far to walk or have a crummy fruit selection. How is it that a country with almost permanent summer can't produce nice peaches or decent banana?. I blame it on the global food crisis. Anyway, Woolworth it is for now.