After something like this, the logical thing to do is look back and think what one could have done differently. We always try to be smart (and tried on that occasion too): park on a street with a guard; don’t leave valuables in the hotel or visible in the vehicle; keep doors locked and windows up while driving; carry different credit cards between us; only one of us takes a wallet and phone when we are walking together, just in case… then we would have another set remaining. We have since learned that Toyotas are a high theft vehicle (for parts) since they are driven widely here. We bought one intentionally as we knew there would be high demand and resale value when leave next June. Would we purchase that one again? Well…maybe. Perhaps we would have made a few different choices. On the other hand, crime is at work and we can’t protect from every scenario.
We have been amazed by how our experience has opened the flood gates to hear everyone’s car theft stories. Of the three people who gave us rides afterward, all had cars stolen (and two of them experienced it twice!) Four of Scott’s small group of colleagues have had this happen. And we can hardly count the number of people who have responded, “Welcome to South Africa!” and even, “It’s just a way of life.” Indeed, it emphasizes to us that we can’t control everything; our situation was just plain bad luck. I guess we can even call it a cultural immersion experience now that we have joined this not-so-exclusive club. (To be fair, we did also hear two stories from friends whose cars were stolen in America!)
Sometimes we discuss why it’s such a big problem here and what might be done. Better crime prevention and policing could help. But the more durable solution (and more difficult to achieve) would be a society in which more people are housed, healthy, productive, and connected. With so many people struggling economically it’s no wonder that widespread crime takes root. We cannot excuse the theft of ours or anyone’s vehicle. But our hearts soften when we consider how many people here struggle to meet basic needs amidst an unemployment rate of 25%. What does it say about us for example, that we could go out the very next day and buy a new smartphone and pay for a three week vehicle rental? It says that we are on one end of the economic spectrum and that we have little grasp of what the other side may look and feel like.
We are still thinking through whether to buy again or not. In the meantime, Scott (being from NJ) seems to think that our rental car’s license plate is a good omen.
We finally got to try a papaya (“paw-paw”) from one of our two trees. With fresh lemon juice on top it’s pretty good. But yes our friend Diane was right – the presence of the birds in the yard is far more delicious than the fruit. Think we’ll leave the rest to them.
Our neighbors’ rose tree bloomed magnificently.
Proteas, the national flower of South Africa, have arrived in the markets. And new things are blooming around town, like Hibiscus.
New fruits to try. Elsa Ruth thinks the Litchis taste pretty good.
It’s Term 4 and the last one of the year. Girls switched to “summer uniform”, which they all seem to prefer (blue gingham above). Boys are still stuck with the tall, warm socks. New sports options include swimming, with the official school suit and cap of course!
Flip-flops (aka “slops” not “slogs” as I reported incorrectly before!) are a sure sign of summer, don’t you think?
And what could be more summery than…
This is the Southern Hemisphere after all; but we are feeling very mixed up about what seasons it is!
I never imagined that this space would have such reach so this is certainly a milestone. To the 100th follower and every other one of you, thank you for reading and riding along with us.