So I mentioned in a previous post, that Cape Town isn’t exactly the “real” Africa. Most people joke and call it Halfrica because it is so different than the rest of the country and continent. However, there are certainly moments on a semi-regular basis that I quickly remember that I’m in Africa.
That’s where T.I.A. comes in. It comes from the movie Blood Diamond in which Leonardo Di’Caprio says T.I.A, this is Africa. So my (American) friends and I will often encounter something that doesn’t quite compare to how things work in our normal lives back home and will exclaim “This is Africa!”
It’s not necessarily said in a negative light, just that things are obviously done a little different and often slower here. Like I mentioned in yet another post, learning to be patient is definitely something I’ve been practicing while here.
So my most recent “This is Africa” moment began about 1 week ago. I had a local doctor call in a prescription to the pharmacy for me. Luckily, that part was easy and the doctor was able to fax in the prescription just like it happens in the states. So I was pleasantly surprised things were working so smoothly.
2 days later, I go to pick up the prescription after work around 5:30 and the pharmacy is closed, even though their hours state they’re open until 7. I didn’t think much of it, so decide to go back the next day. The same thing happens. I find a customer service person who was working in the store and ask about the pharmacy counter being closed and she said that they couldn’t find a pharmacist to cover for the afternoon, so they closed.
Now mind you, this isn’t a small mom and pop type pharmacy. This is a store equivalent to CVS or Walgreens with branches everywhere. So I happen to go to that shopping center quite regularly for other things, so 2 other occasions I was in the area and peaked in and yep, the pharmacy was still closed in the evenings although they’re usually open until 7.
Luckily, I didn’t need the prescription right away, so I was finally able to pick it up today. Which leads to my 2nd “This is Africa” moment. I picked up the prescription from the pharmacy, but you can’t pay for it at the pharmacy. The prescription is wrapped up and enclosed in a steel cage with a zip tie. So I continued doing the rest of my shopping with the steel cage in one hand. I thought it was pretty funny and wonder how often people attempt to or get away with stealing their meds.
There are small moments like that in which I’m able to step back and appreciate that I’m living somewhere completely new and foreign. I don’t think I’m taking my time for granted here, but here in Cape Town, it’s pretty easy to feel comfortable and not go out of your comfort zone on a regular basis since it is “Halfrica.” I do my best to learn, understand and think about how even the smallest things are different here. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day routine, but I enjoy the simple reminders, like picking up my prescription in a steel cage, that keep me on my toes.