Another day in Diesploot. When you really get into the deep ditches of Diepsloot, which is it’s name by definition, you begin to understand that it so much more complex than anyone has yet let on. If you take it at face value, it is as they say; a narrow line of shoebox shacks, starving dogs prowling the streets for garbage, children running around in dirty clothes and dirty faces. What we have learned in our extended tour into the deeper sections is that, if you could somehow see past the crumbling homes and some of the filthy clothes, and the dirt roads could be paved and the sidewalks cleaned, then you would think it is the most wonderful place to live. People by the dozen walk around with children or bags of goods. They smile and talk to each other. In the middle of the township is a wonderful green park with a large screen like at a drive-in. We passed it today while driving through and saw a large group of people sitting on the lawn, watching a movie in the late afternoon. It is quite honestly the oddest place I’ve ever seen. It would probably take a year to walk through Diepsloot and truly understand it. Of course it has its troubles and faults, but the highlights I think are never mentioned. And because the media is so often accused of only reporting on the bad, I wanted you all to know that there are some sunny spots in an otherwise dreary place in Diepsloot.
There’s a lot here that we’re all adapting to and beginning to accept as normal. It’s no longer strange that the traffic drives in the left lane, that a traffic signal is a robot, that the trunk of the car is the boot. We’re learning cultural expressions; elder women are all Mama, women who are slightly older but still young are Cici – Josh, who was only half-listening to the lesson from Buhlee because he was driving – sad very serously to Tiffany that she must call him Cici. We let him know it meant sister and we all had a good laugh about it. We laughed a lot today, actually. Buhlee asked if we had had any local beer. We said yes and Buhlee asked, ‘How did you find it?’ and Tiffany quite seriously replied, ‘We just asked’, not realizing that Buhlee had meant how we liked it. So we had a good laugh about that too.
We talked today about how it’s okay here to say colored people. We explained to Buhlee that you could never say that in the states because you’d be considered racist. Our guide and up-and-coming journalist (wink, wink) Victor, said he liked watching gangster type American movies because he liked the language, like nigger. Because he is black, we told him it would probably be alright if he used that term towards another black, but that whites cannot say it towards blacks. There are a lot of small, strange little differences here. ‘Laanie’ (lawn-y) is a word to mean swank or posh. A person who is attractive is ‘fit’. Yebo means yes. And there are so many languages here I can’t even remember them all.
I’m very pleased with my team. We made great progess in Diepsloot today and they’re going to follow up with things when I leave. I’m joining Jen, Amber, and Chris (a Nebraska student), to a trip to the Mozambique border. We leave tomorrow morning at 5am to go to Maputo, the capitol of Mozambique. It’s about an hour away from the South African border and another stamp on my passport. : ) Tomorrow is Mozambique’s Indepedence Day, so I hope that doesn’t hinder our ability to report or get in touch with people.
No pictures today, sorry. It’s nearly eleven and I’m all out of energy.