Sunday, March 10, 2013

SOUTH AFRICA: Day 3 - East London

East London - The Forbidden Beach and My Big Feet

Hmm.  12 hours on a bus is brutal.  Just brutal.  Met a nice girl on the ride, though.  We chatted for a while. She's a student and assumed I was.  Then came the obligatory question about my age.  She was stunned.  Seriously, she was shocked that I was not a wife and mother at my age...  Asked me what I was waiting for.  Oh boy.  I mean the girl kept harping on it.  Irritating.  But I'm so used to it now...  We still exchanged contact info and when she found out I'm on twitter she started up again with it: "People your age aren't on Twitter!".  I told her my age in my country is different than my age in her country.  Is it though....?  Ugh. I didn't want to be thinking about these things on this trip, dammit! If the phone wouldn't have cost me a fortune, I would've called my therapist for a pep talk.

My new friend also told me that Black people don't travel or surf (after I told her my plans for Cape Town).  I laughed at that, but, actually, that kind of thinking is a serious problem.  It's that attitude, focused on the "can't" and "don't", that keeps us limiting OURSELVES, as a people.  But that's a rant for another day.

Finally, I arrived in East London.  Not much there - which is fine for what I wanted to do, which was lay by the beach all day.  I figure I'll play in that beautiful Indian Ocean, then take the next bus to Cape Town or PE - whichever comes first.  Turns out the PE bus is booked up, bu a Cape Town bus is coming at 5pm.  Perfect!  Beach all day will soften the blow having to sleep on another bus for 15 hours.  I see a stretch of beach and head over, but, EVERYONE (the bus station attendant, women in the market...everyone) warns me to stay far away from that area because it's incredibly dangerous.  The market women tell me I'll a "headless hiker if I go there".  Yikes.  I'm advised to stay on the other side, the safe side, ie the White side.  Unfortunately, that side HAS NO BEACH! So I spend the whole day looking at the water from the boardwalk. Boo!  I should've followed my instinct and just gone to the beach.  I'd've been fine.  All the Black folks on that beach were having a grand time, while I was still stuck in my ridiculous outfit (knee high boots and shorts...) sweating in the heat.  

the India Ocean FINALLY! so damn beautiful! the far left side is the "forbidden beach"

there was an aquarium right on the water. the seals' and see lions' pools were literally 2 feet from the ocean.  that seemed extra cruel. they could sea, smell, feel the ocean splashes, but never escape into it... 

So I figured I could at least fix my footwear issue at the market.  Unfortunately, I didn't research the shoe sizes in SA....  I asked the guy with the sandal stand if he had a size 10 and he almost choked laughing.  "SIZE 10??!!!" "No, I don't have anything that big here!"  Then he started pulling men's flip flops out for me to look at - they were awful and mammoth looking, so I declined.  Then he said something that made me realize what the problem was.  He said, "I only have ladies size 3 in the one you like".  Size 3?  Uh, that's not even a child's size in the US... so there must be a different measuring scale here.  A-ha!  I knew then that I should tell him what my European size was so that he could figure out the SA equivalent, but by then I was so mortified at his laughing at my huge feet, that I just walked away.  

I meet more young (early 20s) locals while waiting for the bus...which is 5 hours late....  Still - good times.  They all think I'm a student. Really, do I look that young?  Really?  If I do, while I guess it's flattering, it just leads to so many awkward situations...  Where are all the fun, smart, worldly, adventurous 40-somethings?!

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