South Africa Facts & Vocab


Here are a few fun (and at times not-so-fun) things we have discovered about South Africa that some of you friends back home may find interesting. 

  • It is so wild to me that we can get in the car and drive to Namibia, Swaziland, Botswana or Zimbabwe with relative ease.  Want a harder drive?  We could drive to Kenya, Ethiopia or Egypt.  Whack!
  • Some things are cheaper, and other things are more expensive. 
  • You can go out to eat for very close to what you would pay to eat in...sometimes even cheaper. 
  • Food is generally much less than back in the states. 
  • We can buy a bag of fresh tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, onions, oranges, apples and pears for about $7 (for all of this).  I think that is FAR less than what we paid in the US.
  • We drive on the left hand side of the road and the right hand side of the car.  Totally used to it. 
  • Tip is typically 10% at restaurants. 
  • Every parking lot has attendants that watch your car, load your bags into your car, take your cart for you and assist you in backing out of your spot.  You pay them about $0.25 after they help you back out. 
  • I got a tail light replaced today for $1.10 (parts and labor). That was cool.
  • Cars are extremely expensive-- about 40% more than in the US. 
  • The majority of the cars here are very small.  Think Toyota Yaris. 
  • Which is great since petrol (gas is called petrol here) is about R10 a liter ($6.00 a gallon).
  • There are as many automatics here as there are sticks in the US.  It is the exact opposite. Almost everyone drives a manual transmission vehicle. Which is great for all the mountains we have here.  
  • Electronics are super-expensive here. 
  • Almost all mobile phone usage is pre-paid. And you can buy airtime at the grocery store.  Or the gas station. 
  • Weirder than that is that you also must buy prepaid electricity for your home.  You can buy that at the grocery store too!
  • Because calling is so expensive, most people SMS.  
  • Which reminds me, it's SMS here, not text.

While, I'm at it, here is some more vocab...

  • A robot = a traffic light.
  • A bakkie = a pick-up truck.
  • Takkies = sneakers. 
  • Biscuit = cookie.
  • Boerewors = Sausage.
  • Braai = BBQ or Grill.
  • Howzit = How are you doing?
  • Nappy = A diaper.
  • Shame = a broad expression denoting sympathy. 
  • While in America, "just now" means it recently happened in the past, in South Africa it refers to the future...anywhere in the near future (1 hour, 5 hours, or more).


Well, that gives you a small window into some of life here.  We are so thankful to be here.  It is starting to feel like home!