It’s been a little bit of time between the announcement of the South African Nonprofit Safari and the following in-progress posts. Some folks have commented that they had hoped to hear more from me during the trip. Let me shed some light behind the scenes, share a few things that have happened, and what I’ve learned about communications in Africa.
1. Buy your local cell phone/SIM card at the airport as you get off the plane. There are anti-fraud laws in place that require you to “prove residency” with a utility bill, passport or driver’s license in order to buy a cell phone or SIM card. Airport vendors are equipped with the proper paperwork to provide for travelers. We did not know this (and even if we did, we probably would not have been able to purchase because our flight got in so late) and had quite a mission the next day to try to get a phone.
2. Even if you are not prey to jet lag, do not take a nap by the pool in the sun after travelling. There’s a hole in the ozone layer over South Africa that makes the sun more intense. Sun burn city!
3. Internet connections are few and far between. They are hard to find and you must pay as you go to connect – by minute or by meg. One provider for time may not be available in another location so use up the time.
4. Even when you have an internet connection, the communications are spotty. Emails are missed, postings get lost, and things generally disappear at about a 2-disappearances-to-1-successful connection ratio.
5. Uploading is s_l_o_w. Even if you have a connection, it doesn’t mean there is enough bandwidth to upload even a small file. You must put aside some time to watch your emails wind through the upload process. If they go at all.
6. Have a local connection for scheduling assistance. So now we are in Africa and meetings with nonprofits and professional fundraisers are to commence in a couple of days. Suddenly, with the challenges with connectivity and email, things are hit-or-miss in confirming and setting locations. YIKES!
7. Think metric: Maintain a 30-meter respectful distance from elephants.
8. Adopt a local accent in order to be understood. No one knows what I want when I request ‘wadder’ to drink. I must emphatically pronounce the “t” to be understood. Same thing for tomatoes. Although there must be an Ahhh and not an Aaaaye to make that word understood.
9. Don’t forget to drive on the left – ESPECIALLY around roundabouts. Look to the right first and then pull off to the left. Wow! Old habits are hard to break!
10. That driving on the left thing translates to walking and being able to navigate grocery stores. Xhosa ladies will tsk and click at you if you go against traffic in the market. It’s humbling.
More behind the scenes tidbits coming soon (when the next reliable connection is secured!).