Hi everyone…yes these three all occurred in a 48 hour day this past week. I wrote this on the train Wednesday night and decided to post it as soon as I got an Internetconnection.
The world can be a small place, yet the misconceptions between cultures are huge. While exchanging USD for Rands at a bank in JoBurg, not only did I discover that I am now officially a billionaire (in Zimbabwe that is, 1USD= 5.8 billion or so zimbabwe dollars) but also how much the world’s inhabitants don’t understand each other. I was greeted by 2 tellers who honestly thought that Americans have a day to celebrate TuPac. I know we are a culture of celebrity obsessed people, yet I haven’t been able to find the “All Hail to TuPac Day” in my day planner. But hey “Keep Ya Head Up” and “Holla At Me” if you find it.
I met a woman at a store in JoBurg today who was an inspiration, especially for the South Africans. The woman, whose name translates to Revenge, told me her story to maintain a decent quality of life in this ever changing country yet she refuses to take public handouts. “revenge” had her first child at the age of 16 and had worked everyday since she found out she was pregnant, she will not give in to her society’s expectations and take the gov. handouts or even assistance from her family. Why can we not have more self-starters and go-getters like this in the USA?
I witnessed my first Bollywood movie filming while here in Joburg. What an awesome crew and setup! They were filming at Wits and were the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
“Do you want to take the train?” Was the question I was approached with as I entered our makeshift office on Thursday. As many know, I never turn down an adventure so I said yes before having the details. Now for the details, you leave in less than 3 hours, heading to the SA/Zim border and it’s a 16 hour train ride. See you tomorrow at 2pm by Zim. And it’s the moments like these that remind me everyday why I chose to go into journalism, I’m a thrill seeker looking to tell the story of those that have been unheard.
So that brings me to “right now” (on the train this was) I’m on the train headed North towards Zim with a translator/fixer, a print writer and a photographer. We’re taking the “scenic” 16-hour train ride (which is almost how long our flight to SA was) while our colleagues take a 8ish hour busride with local migrants and some take a van, it kind of feels like a race to the border! Yes we are a minority on the train but it has been very relaxing. The trains here are a world all in their own, mix a flea market with a moving shelter and I think you would be close to the environment of this train. Merchants walk to aisle and try to sell you socks (2 for 5Rand), fruits, meats, toys, etc… I like to think of these people as independent entrepreneurial “stewardes”. The people are nice, yet always guarded towards Americans/white people. They just look at us wondering why we choose to take the 17-hour train trip for 12 USD vs. taking a comfortable van. My answer; for the experience.
That’s what this trip has been all about; trying new things, meeting new people and finding the incredible stories of the people of this unique nation.
Hold on tight, I’m rolling down the tracks at a snails pace as I travel across the world. Phoenix-London-JoBurg-Zim, who knows where we’ll end up next 🙂
Stay tunes. Peace