A friend just sent me a one line email with the question "What is your favorite thing about South Africa?"
I wish that the answer came as easily as the question. I wish there was just one thing that I could pin point and say, "that's my favorite thing about this place." But its not that simple, especially when you are talking about a place as complex as South Africa.
However, since I'm sure that Oprah's doing it and its the time of the year to pull The Sound of Music off the shelf and because its Christmas time, here's a few of my favorite things as best as I can represent them:
My Favorite Store: Fruit and Veg City. The freshest fruit and veggies I think I've ever seen in my life, and they always have great deals. I'm lucky to have one in my shopping town.
My Favorite Pizza Place: Bravo Pizza. Americans need pizza or at least we need something that makes us feel a little connected to home. Its a small place in Pretoria with outdoor seating, a brick oven and the thinnest crust I've ever found. Amazing and oh so good. And the people who run it are great.
My Favorite South African Food: A toss up between Sepatlo and Samp. Sepatlo, a South African sandwich that's ridiculously bad for you but ridiculously good. Samp, similar to hominy but not quite the same. Hard to describe.
My Favorite South African Beer: Yeah, haven't found that yet. Not a place especially known for their beer.
My Favorite Spot in the Village: The road behind the village that I run on in the mornings. Not much traffic, foot or auto. A nice quite place to run where I can enjoy the solitude and can watch the sunrise.
My Favorite Village Animal: The donkey. Hands down saddest and yet funniest creature in the world.
My Favorite South African Saying: It varies between "Eish", "Sharp", and "Owwa". Eish is kind of like saying "oh, my goodness." Sharp like saying "its good", "i'm good", "got it", or basically anything you want it to mean at the time. Owwa like saying "I can't believe you just said that" or "no, that's not at all what I was trying to say".
My Favorite South African Adventure: Skydiving or getting up close and personal with an elephant herd.
My Favorite Time of Day in South Africa: Sunset. Beautiful.
My Favorite Part of My Life in South Africa: The simplicity of life in the village. I have few possessions and with a few notable exceptions (like my computer) most of them are not worth very much. Life is slower and calmer. I read. I write. I watch movies. I sit for hours chatting with my host mom and neighbors. I bake my own bread and make my own pasta sauce. Everything in my life with the exception of the grocery store and the ATM is a fifteen minute walk or less. I realize more and more how little in life I actually need, and its a nice realization.
My Favorite Thing about South Africa: It is a country that desperately wants to heal from its past. I think that overwhelmingly people want to put Apartheid and its results behind them, but how to do that is a confusing and very complex thing. Often what is tried is not effective or doesn't have the intended effect. But almost everyone I talk to, they want to move forward. And I think that's simply amazing.