Those are words that will never feel natural flying out of my beak unless I move to Africa. It catches everyone off guard the first time, including myself. It continues to throw off the forgetful and friends who don't listen the second, third and fourth times they hear it.
Over the past few weeks, I've told friends and family I would not see them for about a month, as Hens on Ice will be having shows in South Africa for the first time in history, and the company keeps throwing me feed to skate in the shows. Everyone's immediate question is, "Where are you going?" And there is no time to prepare them for my response: "South Africa." Once that last "a" is pronounced, their eyes bulge and mouths open as if I'd said, "Mars."
|Where's the arena?|
But oddly enough, most people I've talked to who don't give me the "Mars" eyes have a connection to South Africa. I have friends who have family there. I have friends who have lived there for months at a time. A friend's husband is South African. A group of students from my college goes every year, and they have a group picture on the wall at a local bar. And everyone loves it. I never knew any of this until this month. Now people won't shut up about South Africa! Forget six degrees to Kevin Bacon, everyone is just about a degree away from South Africa. I wonder what kind of connections my friends have to Mars.
I am far less confident in packing for South Africa compared to Europe. I guessed pretty well with fitting attire for Europe, and I assimilated as well as one hen on ice could. I knew I was "in" when two different people on our first flight asked if I was Irish. When I hear "Africa," I think safari, and when I hear "South Africa," I think more first world than the rest of Africa and apartheid. Damn you, minimal African education, those tidbits are not going to make a proper wardrobe in my suitcase! At least I'm bringing a zebra print Snuggie.
|South Africa's national blanket|