Transport, as it is called here in South Africa is a really big concern. I think that shoe leather express is the most common form of transport. Every time we are out and about in the car we see numbers of people walking. Usually carrying bags either on their heads or in their hands or both and of course, babies on their backs. I’ve started noticing the shoes they wear and they don’t look like sturdy walking shoes to me. There is some sort of public bus system but either it is too expensive or the routes and the schedules do not work for the ‘common people’. The usual form of public transportation is private taxi’s. These taxi’s are minibuses, not like the taxis we’re used to in the states. And the traffic laws don't seem to apply to them. They make their own turn lane, stop wherever they want, pass whenever they want and then honk on drivers who are obeying the law (that would be Elder H)People walking along the street hold up four fingers pointing outward, two to the left, maybe one straight down or up. One of our Zulu sisters explained to us what this finger system means. Each signal indicates a location the resident wants to go. If the minibus is going to that location, it stops to pick up the traveler. One of the townships name means “Jacket”, so to signal a taxi to go there the traveler shrugs his shoulders up and down like he’s putting on a jacket to indicate he wants to go to the “Jacket” township.
It’s really quite clever and it works! It’s not just the taxi’s that will pick up people using finger signals but also private cars. The passenger is always ready to pay a few rand even if it isn’t a real taxi.
Out in the townships transport is a number one concern. Our branch in Ennerdale actually hires taxis to take people to conference, or Youth firesides, or stake activities. If this wasn’t done no one would be able to go. No cars and no rand to pay for taxis. And most of the members walk to their weekly meetings at the branch.
Today at church I met a young man about 20 years old. He is interested in the church and walks an hour each way to come and learn more. Hmmmm, how spoiled are we?
South Africa also has a great idea for parking lots. I think that the shopping malls in the states should actually adopt the parking system used here. The large parking lots are divided up into invisible sections each with an assigned “car protector” in an official vest and hat. When you park he acknowledges you with a “Hello Mam'n'Sir”. He has then become your official protector. When you return somehow he miraculously remembers where you parked, he will help you unload your shopping cart and then back you safely out of your spot. It is expected that you will roll down your window and reward him for his services with about R2 to R5. (remember the exchange is about $1.00 to the R7.5) It is really quite a nice service and I don’t mind a bit paying for it.
Also when you drive in to a gas station the attendant runs over to your car (like in the olden days) and asks to check your tires and oil and then, while the gas tank is filling, he washes your windshield with such a flair it should be done to music! Again, when the job is completed R2 is gladly paid. We have learned to keep plenty of Rand change handy.