There are good people in the world. And those people are couchsurfers. In this case, our hosts. If you’re unfamiliar with what couchsurfing is, just check out their website to see. We couldn’t do this trip without it and will forever be thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this crazy, yet unbelievably hospitable community. Our hosts for the night (and the following few nights) graciously picked us up from our hostel (we later found out it was roughly thirty minutes away from where they lived) and took us to the Joburg Neighbour Goods Market for the afternoon!
Niel and Resh tried to explain that they get out more when they host and appreciate where they live even more. I hope they weren’t just saying that to be nice. When Resh insisted on buying us coffee, Niel joked that she was rich and could afford it. I wanted to explain how meticulous we are with recording what we spend everyday. How not paying for coffee today could mean I could buy a beer tomorrow. On top of not spending money on accommodation for the night or a taxi to get to the market… Instead, I thanked them both profusely. for a my first latte in three months. (Because Uganda and Tanzania export all of their coffee, using the cheaper Nescafe instead. I’m assuming the same goes for Mozambique- but I don’t know if coffee is a big export for them, or they simply don’t grow it. Either way. We’ve been drinking Nescafe for awhile now.)
We walked around the market. Andrew and I were overwhelmed. It’s the same kind of reverse culture shock I get whenever I’m in an American grocery store after being in Korea for extended periods of time. (Once, an aisle of hummus and an attractive store clerk- who spoke English! – sent me running home without any groceries at all. I was so overwhelmed and didn’t know what to get or how I would ask someone for the cut of pork that goes in kimchi chiggae in English that I ran.) Now, going to any kind of grocery store is an adventure for the two of us, so an artisanal foods market was overwhelming.
Cheese. An entire stall devoted to Mexican food. Pizzas. Sushi. Homemade jams. Sausage. Beer. Mimosas. Champagne and Oysters. Bread. Sandwiches. Burgers. Quiches!
There was everything… except… black people. Being in Africa for three months, reminded me of what it was like in Korea at times. I didn’t really think I stood out until a child would touch my hair or my arm, or I would be sitting next to someone with beautiful skin that looked a bit different than my own and be so envious of how they would never be pasty white. As in Korea, in Africa, I got used to standing out from the crowd a little. In Korea, I would notice more readily when another “foreigner” was around. Now, in South Africa, here at the Neighbour Goods Market, I noticed more readily how many others looked similar to me and how few looked different. It was strange.
“There’s a lot of white people here.” Andrew stated the obvious within the first few minutes of walking in the doors.
“Yea… Weird…” I agreed. That, and the plethora of options to eat continued to befuddle us throughout the afternoon.
After the market, we headed back to their place where we sipped on Scotch and a South African cream liquor while we watched 2001: A Space Odyssey. Andrew and I could not stop saying “Thank you” and were in constant awe of how easy everything was after Mozambique.