Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ridgebacks, Rottweilers, and Razor Wire

You know you're in South Africa when you see a sign like this next to a nice hotel. We're still getting used to being greeted with huge Rodesian Ridgebacks, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and other slathering doobers while heading out for a hike. The locals don't seem to notice, and the dogs seem friendly enough when you're introduced, nonetheless, it is a bit nerve wracking. One of the hardest things to get over here is this ever present security obsession. From what folks tell you, the ubiquitous razor wire, electric fences, heavily armed ADT guards, and oodles of huge barking dogs is all necessary to keep people from being robbed. Its still tough for me to tell if this is the truth, or a bit of a hangover from the tenuous apartheid days -- it does, however, seem to be a bit overkill. When you chat with folks, most say something like, "we haven't had a break in before in the past 20+ years," or, "its usually just petty break ins, folks looking for quick getaways with a lap top, cell phones or other electronics." If so, I can't help but wonder why everyone cares so much -- get some insurance, a dead bolt, and be done with it; the rest of this hoo ha just freaks out the tourists. I also wonder if this isn't a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy -- razor wire wrapped home owners assume massive crime is just one tenement away, and the tenement folks see these armed fortresses presuming attempts will be made to rob them, and conclude, perhaps it is their duty to rob them. Even if the crime is truly this extreme a concern, isn't this race to the most hardcore security obsessors just pushing the crime to one's next door neighbor? After all, in between the hardcore homes are seemingly unprotected homes with little more than a friendly lab meandering about.

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