Here are a couple of things that you most likely don’t know about the country of South Africa. I know these things were all new for me when I learned them.
- South Africa was the first country to make it completely illegal to fish/kill any great white shark.
- There is actually not enough electricity to power the entire country of South Africa, so there are times where certain places have no power for a couple hours, called load shedding, so that the power can be diverted to other regions in the country.
- They drive on the left side of the road.
- Their light switches look like this. (So that you can know sooner than I did, if you see the line, the lights are on in most cases.)
- They seem to not have real orange juice like Americans know it. Most of their juices are a mixture of multiple juices such as apple, pear, grape, pawpaw,and grapefruit. I did find that their McDonald’s had orange juice that tasted like 100% orange juice. (Whether or not it actually was, I’m not entirely sure.)
- Johannesburg, South Africa is the crime capital of the planet.
- A lot of vehicles in South Africa are manual rather than automatic.
- They have random traffic stops where they will sit along the side of the road and randomly pick cars to pull over. They check that they are licensed and registered because there is a decent number of people who drive without the proper training and licenses, which is one of the leading causes of accidents in South Africa.
- They have 11 official languages including English, Afrikaan, Zulu, Xhosa, etc. A majority of the languages are native languages from certain regions.
- There are a lot of hitchhikers along the road holding out money in order to persuade people to give them a ride, but I have yet to see anyone stop.
- They have a good bit of poisonous spiders and snakes. Luckily I was there in their winter when the snakes are less common, but we were warned that if some of the workers started to run while in the yard, there was probably a snake and that we should run too. (I checked this website before I left for the trip http://goafrica.about.com/od/africanwildlife/tp/Africas-Scariest-Spiders.htm)
- The Big 5 includes the African elephant, black rhino, cape buffalo, African lion, and African leopard.
- Each animal in the Big 5 is featured on the South African Rand bills.
- The Small 5 is less known than the Big 5, but includes the elephant shrew, red-billed buffalo weaver, ant lion, leopard tortoise, and the rhino beetle.
- On our way to Cape Town, we passed baboons sitting along the highways, and there were many warning signs about them being dangerous when we visited Cape Point. I, not being a huge fan of primates already, was not comforted by seeing all these signs and seeing the baboons just sitting so close to the road. On our way into Cape Point, we passed some baboons in the road and made sure all of our windows were rolled up as was suggested by the signs. After we passed the baboons, we passed a couple bicyclists on their way out (needing to pass the baboons). I’m still curious as to how they handled the situation.
- South Africa has the tallest bungy bridge in the world, Bloukrans Bridge, which measures 216 meters (709 ft) tall. They have a 100% success rate and have even had a 96 year old man jump. I jumped as well! (More on this experience in a later blog post.)
I hope that all of this information was helpful for anyone that wants to visit or is just curious about South Africa.