You Know You’re in South Africa When….

You know you’re in South Africa when
  1. You drive on the left side of the road
  2. You say “Now now” to inform someone that you will be there anywhere from 5 minutes to 4 hours  Ex. “The taxi will pick you up now now”
  3. The only sport your family watches is the Rugby World Cup
  4. There are baboons on the side of the road
  5. You say “Shame” after most sentences Ex. “I’m tired” “Ooh shame shame”
  6. When Mayonnaise is somehow involved in most meals and ketchup is used as tomato sauce
  7. You never wear seat belts (Sorry mom)
  8. After watching Rugby you watch soap operas with your host father
  9. You haven’t had Mexican Food!!
  10. You put hot milk on your cereal every morning
  11. Water is never offered during meals, only juice
  12. The dogs in the neighborhood bark at all hours
  13. You take baths instead of showers
  14. No one knows what Netflix is
All jokes aside, I’ve very much enjoyed my time here in South Africa. The typical day for me starts at 8 AM when I arrive at the local clinic in Crags to work with my caregiver. Then at 11 my work partner Sam and I hop on the public taxi into downtown Plettenberg for a cup of coffee/hot chocolate or a light lunch. Then We meet up with two other people in our group and take another taxi to PlettAid office – the organization we are partnered with. For the rest of the afternoon we enjoy lunch as a group and have a seminar or other activity. Seminars usually start with a general question about public health and most end with me having wayyyy more questions about it. Then, at about 4 we all head home to our families. Julia -my home stay partner- and I spend the evening reading and spending time with our family. I usually am super exhausted and go to bed around 9.
The caregiver I’ve been shadowing the past two weeks is amazing. Her name is Marie and her understanding and the love she has for all her patients is very admirable. I’ve learned so much about TB, Aids, Diabetes, and many other diseases, and about the medical system in Plettenberg. For instance, the clinic in which I work at isn’t open during the weekends, therefore, if you needed immediate attention you would need to call the ambulance and be transferred to the clinic in Knysna which is about 40 minutes away from Crags. It really makes me grateful for the immediate and local access to doctors and hospitals that we have in the States. One thing that I have picked up in just the 4 weeks I’ve been here, is that there is so much to be grateful for. I encourage you to think of one little thing that you have (Ex. A dentist, a car, or even just food in the fridge) and try to imagine how things would be different if you didn’t have that. There is always something to be grateful for and I hope that although you haven’t seen what I’ve seen, you can still understand that.
Dankie (Thank you) and please let me know if there is something specific you would like me to write about and I will!
Patty Dougherty

17 thoughts on “You Know You’re in South Africa When….

  1. Jo Ann Prange says:

    Thanks Patty! We are so thankful each day for what we have! We enjoy your updates! Take care & keep us informed! You are doing good! Love & hugs! Loren & Jo Ann

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. Michele Damazyn says:

    Patty, how wonderful that you are getting to experience all of this! I love reading about it and imagining you in these places. You are definitely doing what you were meant to do right now. Love you and we are always thinking about you. I hung out with your mom Friday night after the Homecoming Parade and we had so much fun! WEAR A SEATBELT. If they don’t have one, tie yourself down with a rope or something! Love and blessings! Michele Damazyn


  3. Amanda says:

    Hi Patty! Really enjoyed reading your post and am glad you are having a good time in South Africa so far. I appreciated your reminder about gratitude – such an important practice and so often I forget to take the time. I was so grateful to have spent 10 days with your group at Ingwe especially because I got to know all of you a little bit more.

    I also really enjoy this unit you are in right now about public health. It is a topic that many of us take for granted. There is so much opportunity during your time in Plett to reflect on what it means to be human, how we treat one another and why. It is a reminder for me that we are all human, all in this together no better no worse.

    Hope you continue to have fun and keep learning along the way…and keep writing! I enjoy following along.


  4. Every time I read one of your blogs the story is better and better! So proud of all that you’re doing over there! I loved the “You know you’re in Africa” list! I would be scared by number seven but being in Texas I can actually relate… Sorry mom lol. Keep exploring!


  5. Great post, Patty! Much can be gleaned from it. A lot of what it means to be in South Africa is strikingly familiar, although, I have never been to South Africa. I have learned to be grateful for many things; I wonder, however, to whom or what should I be grateful, and what constitutes gratitude. Should those who do not have these conveniences be ungrateful? I suppose, they should be more grateful than those who have less. Gratitude, some may say, will result in complacency, which results in perpetuation of the status quo. They argue that inspirational dissatisfaction–a euphemism for ingratitude– is what brings about improvement in human condition. Dankie for your evocative post. I shall eagerly await your next.


  6. Dina says:

    Hi Patty!

    So excited to see your post…it had me smiling through and through!!

    Paulo and I will read it with the kids once they are back from PV. It is 9:37 in the morning here as I type. School is going great. I am planning Lane’s class Halloween party as well as the Casa Miguel Pumpkin Carving Party! Can’t believe it is our 7th one!

    Soccer is winding down for both Vaughn and Lane, but basketball has already started for Vaughn. It is sure to be another busy fall in the Miguel house!

    We continue to be in awe of your adventurous side, your determination, and your giving, generous, spirit! And we continue to miss you coming “down the hill…”

    Big hugs, and thinking of you often!
    Dina, Paulo, Vaughn & Lane


  7. Adri says:

    Love it, Pat!!!! My roommates parents are from South Africa and they always say “shame” after everything. Gratitude is always something we can have more of, thank you for the reminder that it’s basic needs that we need to think more deeply about in order to be more globally conscious of one another. It’s great to hear from you, miss you!!! xoxox


  8. Carolyn Gerrans says:

    Hi, Patty. Carolyn Gerrans here. Our K-1 Sunday School class will follow your progress around the world. Starting this Sunday with South Africa. Hope all is well for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • MURPH!! Please keep me updated on basketball this season! I miss everyone

      Tell Dan, Michael, and the whole team I say Hi next chance you get.

      My host sister is 16 and is really good at netball which is sorta similar to basketball and we play all the time together


  9. Raana Mohyee says:

    Well, I just found out that the comment I tried to post was never actually posted 😦 Oh, well. I really like your list of South African particularities. I think it’s the little things like the ones you mentioned that make me feel a new culture. I love the bit about Netflix and juice at dinner. Food for thought: UK Netflix has a much more narrow selection of movies than US Netflix. Also, I laughed when I read the bit about all the questions you have after the seminars. Sounds like the Patty I know and miss dearly! I’d love to know whether your work in the clinic has influenced your thoughts about your future studies. What emotional returns do you receive for working in the clinic? What kind of work do you do specifically? Do you think you would want to study medicine or social welfare or anything related to your work in the clinic? I look forward to hearing more about your experiences. I hope you get a chance to post soon 🙂


  10. Dan Lucia says:


    It’s so interesting and fun to hear about your experiences. Sounds like you’re learning a lot and having a great time.

    We miss you!!!



    • thanks Dan! I hope the season is going well so far! Please keep me updated. I bought a basketball/soccer ball here and we’ve been playing some pick up games when we can…I definitely miss competition sports. Please tell the team I say hi!


  11. Dan Lucia says:

    hi patty…were off to good start won are first game versus ukaih. we play in the sonoma tournament this coming weekend. Emilie is off to a great start, must be from all that extra shooting practice you and her always did. keep up the fantastic work and i know you will figure out how to get through to all your students. you thrive on challenges, its when you are at your best. miss you!


    • Good to hear from you Dan! I’m so glad to hear that Emilie is doing awesome! She deserves that. Who’s the top team this year? Is MC any good? Tell everyone I say hi? Hows Shasta doing?

      Merry Christmas!


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