Are we going hunting?" --Rachel Starnes upon entering a game reserve where a lion park was located.


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Gifts for Home

Laura Sessions Stepp

On Monday evening we went shopping and to dinner on the boardwalk in Summerstrand, an upscale beachfront suburb of Port Elizabeth. I had mixed feelings about this; the boardwalk consisted of a string of affluent shops and restaurants, and I felt like we should be somewhere less like the U.S. -- where there wasn't a KFC, for example.

People along the boardwalk were dressed like you would expect them to be in the States, which added to the weirdness. Just like in Cape Town, I sometimes found it hard to believe that I was really in Africa.

I also felt like such a tourist going there to shop. Among the cafes and clothing stores, however, were several booth-type shops with more traditional looking items. One of the stalls had merchandise with authentication tags saying that the wares were handmade in a township.That booth offered some really interesting stuff made from recycled cans, vinyl, telephone wire and old records.

One vendor bragged about having "The Best Pancakes in the World." Other vendors sold carved wooden objects (bracelets and sculptures, for example), handmade mobiles, jewelry, and paintings.Although the environment felt kind of artificial, it was fun shopping for African goodies. We had been told that if we wandered through the townships after dark there was a chance of being mugged, so I guess this was a better alternative.

Everyone got gifts for their families and friends. Carved salad tongs were a big hit, as were earrings, carved candlesticks, masks, carved statues, woven baskets, and beaded African animals. There were tons of different restaurants of different nationalities (Chinese, Indian etc.)

We had dinner reservations for 8 p.m. at a restaurant called Buffalo Bills. Unfortunately, we finished shopping around 6:30. Having more than an hour to kill before we drove to the restaurant, we decided to have a little "snack." Everyone was very hungry, so we went to an ice cream shop, where we proceeded to over-order (between the two of them, Anna and Natalie had hot chocolate, ice cream, and a chocolate shake topped with chocolate mousse). Everyone was nice and full by the time dinner rolled around.

Apparently, Buffalo Bills was a big game restaurant, but the menu wasn't very adventurous. Most people got chicken, but a handful got the kudu steak (Kudu is an African animal that looks like an antelope. We saw one on our drive back from Richmond). Kudu tasted pretty much like steak, but a little richer and easier to cut.

After all that food, one of our tables still ordered dessert.

By Laura Sessions Stepp
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Don't feel guilty about spending money over there. You are contributing to the economy and creating jobs for all of the waitstaff and the people who carved the salad tongs and other items.

Tourism is a huge growth industry for South Africa.

Posted by: Sa | July 4, 2007 08:17 PM

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