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My least-favorite things in Africa, part 4

By Robyn Openshaw, MSW | Jan 13, 2011

Things I don’t love in Africa:

1.           Eating the Mopanie Worm. It’s a delicacy, the roads are covered with them, and locals eat them dried. Supposedly they’re very nutritious and high in protein. I have a personal philosophy of NOT eating caterpillars–in the photo below, I’m only hamming it up in my “kiss and release” program.

2.           Sugar companies and cane fields. It’s where much of the mischief begins (see me in front of the sugar cane field below).

3.           Townships. Over half a million live in this one, near Pretoria, in the photo below. I hate that so many live without things I take for granted every day.

4.           Malaria. I refused to take the pills. I bought some all-natural bug spray but used it only once. I guess I trust my immune system more than the drugs that make you nauseous, sensitize you to the sun, and you have to take for a month before and a month after.

5.           Ostrich and buffalo billatong (jerky), for sale everywhere. No thanks.

6.           The fact that making the “Go Texas Longhorns!” sign is flipping someone off. It seemed like such a friendly gesture, before, and now it will be forever vulgar in my mind. (I had a long debate with our guide regarding my opinion that the American gesture for that sentiment is so much more intuitive.)

7.           Elephant dung–it’s everywhere in the streets “on safari” and you have to dodge it. But, check out my video of a male dung beetle making good use of it, rolling the female dung beetle along, eggs safely inside the ball of elephant poo.

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4 thoughts on “My least-favorite things in Africa, part 4”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m a born and bred South African and incredibly proud of my country! The good and the bad..it’s all part of the package 🙂 Glad that you had a chance to make some incredible memories and meet some amazing people. Hopefully next time you will get more time to explore our awesome country – there’s so much to see and experience! PS. I’ve never had a Mopani worm in my life!

    1. Robyn Openshaw, MSW says:

      Leila, I looooooved South Africa! We also toured Johannesburg and Cape Town, and were in Pretoria and other places.

  2. My mother is from South Africa and I remember going there when I was 9 years old. I did eat the ostrich jerky and an ostrich hot dog and loved them! But Maybe it was because I was young. Thanks for your blog and green smoothie info. I’m excited to try!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I came to the US 10 years ago from East Africa where I was born and raised. Your articles on your travels to South Africa made for enjoyable reading . I am glad you want to make a positive difference in the lives of these villagers. If you find the right channels for it, that kind of charity is immensely satisfying and life altering, kudos ! However, I just had to comment on your decision forego the Malaria pills and rely on your immune system and not to use a bug spray. While I respect your choices, I would like to caution your readers that what you did was too risky.

    You were lucky not have been bitten by an infected Anopheles mosquito. If you had, your immune system would not have stood a chance against the Malaria parasite and you would have become sick. Residents of malaria-endemic regions acquire immunity through natural exposure to malaria parasites. You were a first time visitor ! This is the only type of natural immunity for malaria but it is strain specific and it disappears when the person moves away from a malaria endemic area. Malaria must be treated as soon as possible because its complications are fatal. In the first 6 years of being in the US, I had never gotten anything more serious than a runny nose. I do not get flu shots, my immune system is strong. But 4 years ago, after returning from a trip to my country, I did not finish my malarial dosage. I showed malaria symptoms 1 month after returning to the US ! I was quarantined in hospital for weeks and studied like a space alien. I am disqualified from donating blood or my organs. I would not wish that suffering on anybody. Everyone should do their research on Malaria before subjecting themselves and their families to such a risk. We are not just talking about the Winter flu here ! Malaria is deadly disease, there is a reason it is the number 1 killer in Sub Saharan Africa.

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