I’m not exactly sure what “bootie” means, but it sounds cute, and I hear it a lot.
I’ve been in South Africa now for just over two weeks and have yet to come to any real conclusions about the country. The fascinating blend of old and new, first world and third world, traditional and modern, and rich and poor entices and saddens me at the same time. It also makes this a very difficult country to travel. For example, it is nearly impossible to get anywhere without a hired car. In Latin America and Asia, it is very easy to get around. They aren’t necessarily easy countries to TRAVEL, per se,… and getting from one place to another may take an awful lot of time and patience, but it rarely takes very much money or forethought. Generally speaking, you can decide to leave a city at any given moment, and be on a bus out within the hour.
It is not like that here.
Because of my experiences in other regions, I have held the belief that the most economical way to get around any country is by local minibuses. In other parts of the world, they are slow, dangerous, poorly serviced, overcrowded, and cheap cheap cheap! In South Africa, they are slow, dangerous, poorly serviced, WAY TOO overcrowded, and much more expensive than any other option. Also, they absolutely will not bargain. The prices are set, and the locals pay the same.
This “prices are set” madness is a nod to the first world, while the absolute shit conditions of travel are vestiges of the third. I took a 5-hour trip from Port Elizabeth to East London with an unidentified baby on my lap. Nobody claimed it, nobody even looked at it. The guy who sold me my ticket dumped it on my lap, and we were off and away. Then, upon arriving in an unmarked town, it was whisked out of my arms (through the window), and that was the last of that. I have no idea what my role in that was.
Anyway, even though they won’t budge at all on the price of the ticket, they will attempt to withhold your change, double-charge, or shuttle you off onto another taxi and make you pay again there. Sorry lads, but you’re not dealing with any spring chicken. You’re dealing with Sam Chu, who will force her poor Welsh/Irish travel companions to sit on a dusty road under the hot Colombian sun to make a point about fair play. Thankfully, it’s not come to that just yet. Any time that someone’s attempted to get shady on me, a tough-looking local woman will pop in and shut them down. BOOM!! I’ve felt very protected here.