But I’m not…(standing on a surf board). Nor am I trying. I need a surf buddy to learn with. hmmm. Surfing’s about loads of practice and then some more. When the time is right, it will all fall into place : )
Location: Jeffrey’s Bay, aka: J-bay, world renowned surf spot- Supertubes and The point
I left Bulungula with 4 woman working/volunteering in the very small town of Chinsta and thought I’d stay for a while but I didn’t like the vibe. I planned to head to Hogsback, where author of Lord of the Rings, J.R. Tolkien gained inspiration for his epic novels. Unfortunately between shuttle availability to and from Chinsta and lack of dorm beds when I planned on going, I said never mind and last minute got a ride with 3 guys working in Jo’burg. I just wanted out… when you have a funny vibe I’ve learned to act on it.
I’m enjoying J-bay relaxing, reading and watching the surf and browsing all the surf shops. Billabong has 4 shops + their factory outlet where Billabong South Africa started, plus every other surf brand’s store is here. It’s public holiday so many of the shops close early and getting a dorm bed was something I had to book a few days in advance. Usually I can book the day before or morning of arrival but now all South Africans are maximizing on their holiday.
J-bay is a built up town- full of beautiful homes, plenty of surf shops, grocery stores, little shopping complexes and restaurants. I’m told it’s quite a conservative Arikanner (dutch descendents) town with lots of surfers. I always assume surfer town= liberal and/or progressive.
I’m staying at a really cozy backpackers with free cereal and FREE internet, a definite plus besides the fact it feels like a home away from home and it’s not constant party. I was planning on going to the party hostel simply because everyone said it was great but then again, it’s all in who you ask. Luckily for me, they were booked full since Wed.
Last night I went out with people from the backpackers to watch a cover band play at The Mexican- you guessed it, mexican restaurant. I may just go for lunch as I haven’t really had any form of mexican food since leaving home, except for the doritos brand salsa I found at Shoprite and totted with me for a long while waiting for the perfect moment to enjoy along with finding plain tortilla chips. Still hard to come by, even in SA. Then again, I haven’t looked.
It was fun and chilled until we headed to the typical holiday beach town club- top 40 music with plenty of beer on the dance floor . I walked in with some friends and they headed back out when they realized they needed money. Next thing I know, I see the car closed with the lights on, Mike standing against the car and Timmy several feet away putting his arm around a teenage (black) kid(about 16-18yrs) holding onto a long plastic tube. I already knew the deal- no need to tell me a story. After a good 20 minutes of Timmy listening to and comforting this kid, Timmy was fully involved creating a plan to help him out.
Story: His parents left him a few days ago, and he got a ride from a white family who said they’d provide him an education but upon arrival in J-bay they left him, his home is 2 hrs away in Knsyna (where timmy and his friends will be passing in a day) and he was just beaten up and apparently doesn’t have any money, with tears and all.
His clothes are well-worn along with his shoes but he has a nice size crystal stud in his right ear. Somehow he can buy bling. hmmm
Timmy doesn”t want to give him money, for a ride back home, which I think is very smart because how do you know if he’s just playing you. He wants to give him a ride since their heading there the following morning. Whether you have a story or are begging, giving money is never the best option. It’s one thing to give money in your own country where you know the social system and what’s being done to help the homeless but it’s another ball game when your in a different country. If you feel the need to give, the best way is to give to an organization assisting to those in needs- whether it’s homelessness, street kids etc.
Mike and I went in search of a South African guy, Wouta, who works at the hostel and took off the moment we arrived with the car keys and the car lights still on. I see 2 women around the corner- one very provactively dressed, the other drinking Jack Daniels from the bottle and a few younger teenage boys causing a ruckus with them behind the corner. I feel a bit uncomfortable and everything I expected is proven- Their working the streets telling their story to anyone who will feel sorry for them and give them money to help them out to buy booze or weed or other drugs or whatever else they want.
We find Wouta and Timmy is be side himself for being swept up in the kids trickery. Wouta has seen that kid in J-bay for the last year or two. Obviously, Timmy isn’t the first who felt for the kid. It’s unfortunate you can’t trust or believe everyone’s story. With so many tourists and volunteers coming to South Africa ( same goes for many countries in Africa), some locals have learned to work it to their advantage. I’ve become hardened and desensitized after traveling on the continent for so long. I’ve learned how it works- too sympathetic and you get played for, no sympathy and maybe you’re having a cold heart to an honest man/woman.
So how do you know when someone is really in need vs. a con artist? I don’t know. I’d like to say intuition but con artists can be masters. Timmy thought the kid was legit and he’s been studying outside Cape town for the last 4 months, so you’d think hé’d be less likely to get sucked in. You just have to hope all the resources available and NGO’s who are helping various communities and within cities/towns are helping those who need it.
I’ve had my opinions about beggers on the street since witnessing a tall black man dressed in a long robe who always sent chills down my spine when I’d see him at night, pimping kids (6-14 yrs) as beggars on Long St in Cape town, 3 years ago. How do you ever really know the story.?
It’s a sad, twisted and complicated world out there sometimes,