4th of July!

4th of July braai
One of the most popular traditions in South Africa is to have a braai. Braai is an Afrikaans word for “grill,” though it is now used by people of many different ethnic backgrounds and in many different languages. A braai is quite similar to a good old American barbeque, though the food is slightly different. Usually chicken, beef, and always boerewors (South African sausage) are grilled and pap (traditional African dish made from cornmeal) is served as the side dish. Yesterday was the 4th of July, and we decided the perfect way to celebrate would be a braai, but with an American twist! Never will you find burgers, hot dogs, or pasta salad at a braai, but we introduced them anyways. The braai was a great success, and even though we weren’t in the USA, my friends from South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Rwanda all thoroughly enjoyed themselves. In fact, I learned that in Rwanda the 4th of July is celebrated as well as Liberation Day, so we turned it into a double celebration.
Green Market Square
Because I am leaving in a few days, I set aside today as a day to get souvenirs and gifts for friends and family back home. The first stop was Green Market Square, a market in town with close to a hundred little shops selling various carvings, jewelry, bags, masks, drums, paintings, and many other crafty souvenirs. One thing that you have to be prepared for is that the vendors are all quite aggressive in inviting you into their shop: “free to look, free to touch”, or “my sista, I’ll give you a good price”. Once you’ve decided on something to buy, you never agree to their first offer of a price. My friend told me a good goal is to bargain down to half of what they first say, though I’m not quite as good at bargaining as he is. After an hour of shopping and haggling, I was exhausted.
University of Cape Town campus 
I’ve also been spending time up on campus this week compiling all my data and entering it into the computer. While I was studying at the University of Cape Town last year, I noticed that I was exposed to a far greater number of smokers than I was while at home in Los Angeles.  As a casual observer, I noticed that the places that seemed to have the most smokers were bars and nightclubs throughout the city. In fact, I didn’t even realize that it was illegal to smoke there because I didn’t see one single sign or episode of someone being asked to stop smoking. Now that I have been here actually collecting data on this subject, it seems that my observations were correct. Even though South Africa is very progressive with their tobacco control laws, they have not been doing a very good job of enforcing them. Hopefully this will soon change and enforcement will crack down more.
I can’t believe I’ve been here for a month now and that I have to leave in a few days. My time here has been incredible, seeing old friends, meeting new people, and learning a lot. I know I’ll be back to Cape Town again sometime soon in the future!