1. The plugs. Obviously you need a converter. Not only are the little plug thingies a different size (which calls for one converter), but sometimes the voltage is wrong on certain items (hair dryer, Karl’s head shaver, etc.) and you need a second converter. I have a hard time remembering which items require what converter and am likely to burn the house down any moment.
2. The roads. Not to belabor the point, but the driving is on the left side of the road, which means the steering wheel is the right side. I think a few of the knobs turn the wrong way too (but Karl thinks I may be imagining this). I'm all turned around and think I'm going to die everytime Karl makes a left-hand turn.
3. The locks. Every door in this house has a different lock with a different key. You can’t turn a knob to lock it from the inside, as with most homes in the US, you actually have to have the right key for that room. So you go into the bathroom and lock it with a key from the inside. Don't loose a key!
4. Setting up your cell phone:
5. Setting up internet in South Africa:
Setting up your phone in Omaha:
1) Go to the Sprint store, choose a phone, and pick a monthly package.
2) Start calling people.
Setting up your phone in South Africa: a 12 Step Program
1) Make sure you have a GSM compatible phone (used in most of the world except in the United States). They use SIM cards to operate (your average US cell wouldn't work here).
2) Go to the store and buy a SIM card. We bought ours in what I would call a South African TJ Max, but not quite that nice.
3) Register your SIM card with the government. This involves your passport, local address, documentation of residence, and something else I can’t remember. They can decline to register the SIM if they chose to do so, but ours made it through the “screening process”.
4) Install SIM card in phone and dial “100” to activate.
5) Wait 24 hours
6) Go to gas station, phone store, grocery store or someplace like that and purchase “air time” for your SIM card. Everything is pre-paid up front. No monthly packaged phone plans.
7) Enter in the given code for your purchased air time.
8) Wait 8 hours (why 8 you ask and not 9 or 24 hours again – is not clear)
9) To purchase data (for emails or Twitter updates), go back to the phone store to purchase (can’t do this one at the gas station)
10) Wait another 24 hours (some kind of security thing)
11) If this all works, you are done. If not, go back to the phone store like Karl did 2 more times.
12) We now appear to be working. Here are our South African telephone numbers.
- Karl's # 011 27 (79) 743-3692
- Julie's # 011 27 (79) 910-4911
1) See above steps #2, #3, #4, #5, #9, #10, #11, #12 (#12 is still in process)6. Purchasing electricity for your residence. No, they don’t just send you a monthly bill. EVERYTHING in this country appears to be pre-paid. We have been staying at the home of a family for the first ten days. They went back to Holland for a month and told us we needed to buy electricity or we would be in the dark. Here is the process:
2) That’s it
3) Forgot to mention that you are charged for internet here by the bandwidth. Thus it’s rather pricy to download music, movies, photos and video. Man we miss unlimited internet!
7. Hand washing dishes and line drying clothes. Not too bad, unless I forget to turn on the backyard hose to the washer (I’ve run a whole wash with no water), or it doesn’t rain (like it did to this batch of laundry after the photo was taken) or the wind doesn’t blow over your line dryer thing and your clothes are dirtier than when you started.
1) Take the “electricity card” to you, guessed it, the gas station
2) Purchase the desired units of electricity.
We goofed up a little here. The card we thought was the correct card actually was a card for a different house…a whole different address. Somehow we purchased electricity for some nice neighbor of ours. No refunds allowed. When we explained the problem, the gas station worker recommended that we go to the address on the card (of a complete stranger), explain to them that we accidently bought them some electricity and ask them to give us our 100R (about $13). Hmmm…maybe not.
3) Find the correct card.
4) Go back to the gas station again.
5) Purchase the desired units of electricity again.
6) Go back home and punch in the code in a big black box on the wall in the living room. (This seemed a little like Locke punching in 4 8 15 16 23 42 - for you “Lost” fans.)
7) Turn on the lights!
8. Remember to weigh your fruits in the FRUIT SECTION at the grocery store. I think I’ve forgotten 3 times now. I get up to the cash register, expecting them to know the total on my grapes, and they tell me to go back and get them weighed (some lady in the fruit section weighs your fruit and marks it – just like the deli counter does with sliced ham back in Omaha).
9. Tip the parking attendants. Everywhere you go there is a nice man to show you where to park (which slots are open). Even though it seems like this may be one of the few things we are actually capable of figuring out ourselves, someone is there to assist. Apparently it’s best to tip when you return, to ensure your car is still there when you get back.
10. Watch out for baboons. Seriously. The front page article in the paper today was how a baboon purposely pushed a man over a ledge and he plunged to his death (a few miles from our home). Apparently these are very bitter baboons.