Today we were walking, and I was really needing a shade break. We were kind of near some settlements (during apartheid the SA government removed colored people from their homes and ‘resettled’ them elsewhere. This is where people still live today. Now just known as “the settlements”), but there was one small little tree, barely enough shade to actually be worth it, and some would call this a “sketchy” area, but hey when you need a break you need a break so we stopped. We’d sat no more than 5 minutes when a guy comes from behind to tell us that another guy wanted us each to have a banana. I was very grateful, it seemed like manna from heaven, and in my tiredness I prayed that it would supernaturally give me all the strength I needed, despite the actual calorie and nutrition content, and started to wonder what manna from heaven was actually like and whether or not it was actually nutritionally sound for a people walking through a desert, or if it was good tasting, or if it got changed up every week for variety. Anyways, as we are just finishing our bananas, a guy comes over with his milk crate to sit with us, apparently he is the owner of the fruit stand and the one who gave us the bananas. He starts telling us all about his travels as a sailor with different companies, Phillipines, Japan US, etc. Joe Fisher, the 58 year old fruit stand owner totally made our day. He invited us over to share some wine, and before you know it, we had talked for the next three hours. When his granddaughter Ester came home from school, he had her make us each a bowl of fries, fresh with potatoes from his stand (they call chips), and buttered bread. Aaron wanted to buy some fruit before we left, but he wouldn’t let us buy it, he gave us 2 apples, 2 peaches, 2 plums, a bottle of wine to take with us, and two pairs of earrings each. I tried to say thank you several times, and he would either say, “Don’t thank me, thank the Creator God”. “Its no problem Amy” “It is a blessing to meet you guys”.
As we sat under the shade of his fruit stand, created by colorful pieces of tarp, string, and chain link fence pieces, on pillows, blankets, and milk crates as chairs, Joe shared with us about his life, giving us advice, telling us about South Africa. He says that Cape Town is the best place in the world, it has everything! Although never a rich man, he put all of his money into making sure his kids went to the best school they could. His mom was Muslim, his Dad Christian, he got to choose, chose to be Christian but thinks all religion is corrupt.
He said yes, you can live on 20rand a day if you have to. It is possible. I don’t know how much more than that he lives on now. But he spoke from experience, and later I realized that 20 rand, well that is just about $2. He survived apartheid and during that time they were all moved from where they were living to the settlement they all still live in. Pretty devastating. He said, “my mom died- age 78, not of old age, but of a broken heart, because she had to leave her home”.
Joe Fisher, a guy we’ll never forget. Thanks Joe.