I know what you’re now thinking after reading this blog post title. Smash-n-grab, carjacking, hacked off limbs… The list of scary things you’re led to believe will happen to you in South Africa is long and grisly.
But I’m here – as a German American who lived in South Africa for a few (wonderful) years – to tell you that danger lurks in more unexpected quarters.
And I’m going to do this in the style of David Letterman – God bless his retired (and unrecognizable because bearded) soul – via a countdown.
5. THE 5th SCARIEST THING that can happen to you in South Africa is….
being asked to put animal feces into your mouth when your safari group is conducting an Impala Poop Spitting Contest. It’s a close relative to the much-loved cherry pit spitting contest you find in other regions of the world, except, you know, the part about the poop. Which does, in all fairness, resemble cherry pits. As long as you make sure it truly is dried.
4. THE 4th SCARIEST THING that can happen to you in South Africa is….
being yanked out of your dreams abruptly at 4:30 am when a pig is being slaughtered right outside your bedroom. Or something that sounds exactly like a pig being slaughtered right outside your bedroom… but turns out to be a bird called a hadeda that, so the rumour goes, is deathly afraid of flying and therefore erupts in unearthly shrieks every time it takes to flight. Preferably at 4:30 in the morning.
3. THE 3rd SCARIEST THING that can happen to you in South Africa is…
being told by the clerk at the clothing store that he will “give you a tinkle when the new beanies arrive.” No thank you, I’ll just check back in a week, is what you say with a shudder before fleeing, only later learning from a friend that giving a tinkle, for a South African, involves a telephone, not a toilet.
2. THE 2nd SCARIEST THING that can happen to you in South Africa is…
when you’re driving along the countryside minding your own business and this happens:
(Full disclosure: You might also be eaten by a lion or rammed by a hippo without ever having received an indemnity form to sign.)
1. THE NUMBER 1 SCARIEST THING that can happen to you in South Africa….
is coming across this creature:
It’s called a Parktown Prawn and it is beyond scary – hairy legs and all. The only good news is that scary thing number 4 apparently eats scary thing number 1.
There you have it, it’s what you’ve always been told – the bad guys all murder each other in South Africa. You might actually be quite safe. Just beware of tinkling store clerks, pooping gazelles, and squatting elephants!