Odds and Ends

Yesterday I thought I’d go completely nuts. There was nothing to do and nowhere to go. Everything is closed on a Sunday in SA, and I just paced this little fenced area, couldn’t settle down to read or listen to music or anything.

I took a chance on not being caught, and walked down the road a ways in both directions. I passed a herd (?) of warthogs on the way, and the lone male with his hareem got very brave and started pawing and snorting at me when I was 20 or 30 feet past them already. He just watched me from behind the ladies before that. Then they followed me back into the compound and I recognized their tracks as what I saw around my cabin, so that’s what some of the night-time snorting has been about.

Another braai last night – a big one, about 25 guests. We ate lots of meat, that’s what a braai is all about. So far I have eaten several “exotic” meats, and generally feel sorry about it, since when we get those it will be because something had to be shot because they were hurt or there was overcrowding of some species like giraffe, which can’t be moved with much success.

One of the guests spent the evening telling me about the 36 venomous snake species here, the four poisonous spiders and the several varieties of scorpion. I shook my boots out a lot harder this morning, I’ll tell you!! Does anyone have any idea just what it is I’m doing here?? <G>

Today we went to town and got a few things we needed, and that I wanted. Everyone piled into the truck belonging to BJ’s assistant’s uncle. BJ is another Hollander who is here working on a project to do with neighbourhood services access, as best I understand it. He live down the road at one of the projects he is working with – a primary school, creche, and craft workshop.

We stopped there for a few minutes, and the kids – the really little ones in the creche – seemed terrified of me, and ran away screaming when I approached their play area. So I just sat down and smiled and played with the dogs, and a couple at a time they started approaching. I would say “Hello” to each one as s/he came close, and that would make them giggle and back off again for a minute, except for one little fellow, probably about 5 or 6, who said ‘Hello’ back to me. I then said “How are you today?”, and he bowled me over by saying “I’m fine”. I clapped and repeated what he’d said and soon everyone was saying “Hello, how are you, I’m fine” and clapping. We had a good time, but it amazed me how quickly they picked up what was going on and seemed to remember it.

Town was a real treat – an African village town, with the wholesalers, cell phone stores (one on every block here, if not more – everyone has one – whether they have air time is another matter though) grocery store, 2nd hand car dealer, and many roadside stalls for barbers, hairdressers, veg and fruit stands, lunch stalls – and a Steer Burger.

After I bought the plastic chairs for the school – couldn’t find a table – and I’m going to use those to set up my own little area outside the classroom for me to work with one child at a time so as not to distract the other students – anyway, I got some food too, as groceries seem to be in constant short supply here – things like bread and fruit juice and tuna fish that never seem to be here at all so far – oh, and I got the notebooks I wanted too, so I can use them to remember what I’ve covered with each student.

Anyway, since I didn’t bring a tray so that I could carry my groceries home on my head as most of the other women were doing, I had to buy two plastic bags from a woman who had a small stall with bags. fruit and candy, outside the wholesalers. These people sure make us all look like a bunch of wusses – women here seem to carry donkeyloads worth of supplies on their heads and walk for miles home along the highway, then more miles on these sand tracks that go back to their compounds.

We all went to SteerBurger – the SA equivalent of Harvey’s, I’d say. I ordered an avocado and bacon burger. Sounded scrumptious and different. Well, the buns were better than home, the tomato and lettuce were fresher and tastier, the avocado was great, HOWEVER, one thing I’m learning about SA is that when you order bacon, well-done means it maybe will be warm all the way through. You might have to send it back twice to get it cooked crispy the way we’re used to it. I can’t be bothered. The other thing was that the hamburger itself was like sawdust – very odd piece of whatever.

It reminded me of a time when I was in Cuba, and the food shortages were really bad. People I knew had just discovered Bovril or Bisto, or one of those beef gravy/basting sauces. They found an old string mop head, and washed it out, then boiled it until it was just mush. They added the Bovril and formed the mush into patties. The result was sold as hamburgers.

And tonight we went to the Lodge for supper, as all the food here got eaten again at the braai last night. The woman who runs the day-to-day operations is apparently not happy with her new chef, and I can see why. I wouldn’t have paid a dollar willingly for that meal – it was quite awful. And the Lodge just got new guests too. I’d guess no word-of-mouth referrals for now. The soup was OK, but that’s all.

It’s quite cool here, about 15C – 18C during the day. Too cold, as far as I’m concerned to take a proper shower in the cement shower room with only ‘maybe’ hot water. Then you have to run back to your cabin in the cold. I’ve just taken a sponge bath the past couple of days, so my hair looks pretty – um – unusual. But maybe no one can tell. I went into a salon in Durban and asked the woman to cut it short since I was going to be away from (conventional) hairdressers for a while, and she sure took me at my word. So maybe the fact that it’s spiky with sweat and dust just looks trendy. You think??

Oops, almost forgot – I saw some Bush Babies tonight at the Lodge. They are even cuter than their pictures. One of the staff at the Lodge feeds them out back of the bar, so they come every night. If we go back to the Lodge, I’ll try to get photos. Not doing too good on that score these days. . . .

Coconut fibre bush outfit at JAG

B&B in Durban - beautiful house

View from Durban B&B - wonderful!

Durban room - “pouffed” to a fare-thee-well.


1 Comment »

  1. Lise said

    Hi Marilyn:

    Really enjoying all of this along with you… reminds me of Gambia in some ways… ah, the cell phone obsession.. I know it well.

    I’m confused about where you are staying… do you move around? What is this lovely place?

    Take care…


    Hi Lise:

    And here I thought I’d get away from annoying ring tones everywhere – HAH!!

    Nope, I’m staying at Tembe, in the Research camp with the different animal management types. I go across the road from the park to the school, and down the road to tea and so on.

    You know what I wondered? If I wanted to ship something big home is there some way I could use your company for the paperwork, or whatever is involved? I just don’t know what is involved, and would love to ship home a couple big woven straw mats to use for sunscreens on the front porch. Can’t pack them in my suitcase, at any rate . . . .

    Lemme know what you know and any pointers about shipping you might have, OK?

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