Oh, Happy Day 2

Well, I keep meeting these lovely white S Africans that are back here working in schools and community projects. Met two couples last night at the lodge, and a couple of ladies that live in Manguzi, the nearest town, today when I was out doing elephant research with Bongani and we were at the hide.

I can’t wait to show you pics of the hide. It has to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. You are sitting up high, looking out on the beautiful African countryside and the waterhole that is ‘wet’ all year , as Tembe pumps water into it to keep the elephants from trying to migrate.

I did a career day at school today with the joined Grs 7 & 8 classes. I had cut out all sort of pictures illustrating what things different jobs do, and tried my best to explain them to the class. It fit in well with the current lessons from their regular teacher, who was teaching the Gr 8s about what self-employment meant – here it usually means saving enough to get air time on your cell phone so you can sell it on to others, or selling fruit and veg by the roadside, or maybe a barber shop or hairdressing shop in a little woven hut by the roadside in town.

I mainly kept the focus on how important it is to have your math if you were going to be self employed, how to calculate your operating costs and living costs so you could decide how much to charge for services. I used a hairdressing operation as an example for the girls, and a taxi-bus business for the boys.

I think I really got through to at least one of the boys and a couple of the girls. The one boy stayed well into his lunch time looking at the pictures. It’s so hard to know, because they are so shy and quiet (until the music starts) that it’s really difficult to tell if they even understand you at all.

They’re generally so shy that if they speak at all when you try to get an answer, I have trouble hearing them even if I lean right over the desk, since they whisper down their shirts.

We did spend some time translating Brenda Fassie’s Vuli N’dlela, which they thought was fun, and asked me to play the whole thing just before they left for lunch. Well, the shyness left as the music began – some really great dancers in that class, I’ll tell you.

This afternoon was a sports’ day, with two of the classes competing in some game where you kick a ball – soccer probably, but the fine distinctions between soccer and rugby and ?? really escape me – sorry.

There were groups of children on both sides of the field, singing traditional tunes to cheer on their teams, and they made each of the teachers in turn get up and dance. I was included, so this time I got to amuse the whole darn school, instead of just one classroom. <(^0^)>

I could have stayed at the hide tonight for much longer than we did stay, but it is good to get home before dark especially when you’re riding in Tuk-Tuk (the only Malay influence I’ve heard so far in the language, though apparently there was a lot of migration) as Tuk-Tuk tends to break down, and is very noisy and I hear that has aggravated some of the bull elephants. It also spews diesel fumes so badly that you can be quite ill from it, and you have to hold the roof on while you drive.

Poor Tuk-Tuk is about 10 years old and that’s worth twice the years on these roads – rutted and deep sand – for those of you that remember, think of Ipperwash back away from the beach – and sometimes have to drive over branches fallen on the road and so on. But I was so glad to be able to go, and Bongani is really good at explaining what he’s doing and getting your help with the forms that keep track of which elephant or group is where.

Gotta go eat now – the kids have cooked for me, so maybe more later, or maybe just tomorrow.



  1. Rhonda said

    Tuk-Tuks – ah, if they’re the 3-wheelers that put around and half-scare you to death, remember them well. They’re used as taxis in Bangkok. You haggle over the fare, should you pay 25 cents or 20 cents (for what would be a $10-$15 fare here)! And, you know it’s crazy but you MUST!

    So wonderful to read your diaries. We’ve just been told by our dear City politicians how much we’re going to hurt this fall. Cuts to so many services because the Mayor didn’t get his way. All seems kind of petty after reading your accounts of how these kids live.

    Love the toothbrush part. Such a simple item yet so much a luxury that we don’t give much thought to.

    Hiya Raizel:

    Tuk-tuk is not a 3 wheeler here, but a Suzuki jeep 4×4.

    Yep, we’re sure spoiled by a lot of things. The tradional women here that teach may have to take 2 or 3 hrs to commute to work each way, then after work still have wash (by hand), cook, haul water from the nearest standpipe, look aftrer any livestock and take care of the farm. I surely don’t know when they sleep!

  2. MT said

    Thanks for the reply, mz! How you found the time, I do not know! Have found you on Google Earth and see you are almost in Mozambique. Think it’s a good thing it’s ‘winter’ in S.A. – you wouldn’t want to be in that part of KZN in the summer. Too hot for thick, Canadian blood! (Have you learned ‘shisa’ and ‘makhaza’ yet? My spelling may be off.) Haven’t been that far n. in KZN myself, but have spent time at St. Lucia, Mapelane, and Sodwana, also Mkuze and other game parks nearby, so can picture the scenery and the sunsets. Have you identified the brillant orange tree with no leaves yet? My guess is it’s the coral tree (erythrina) – formerly known as ‘kaffirboom’ (that name not politically correct now). The seeds are considered ‘lucky beans’, but are very poisonous.

    Wow! The late, great Brenda Fassie! I’m impressed! That would be one way to get through to the kids – through music. As you say – you can only do what you can – and even an interaction that lasts one day could make a change in someone’s life. Hang in there. You’ll cry at the good results.

    Can understand the frustration you are having over electrical fittings for your camera. No matter how many international plugs you take with you, you never have the right stuff when you get there. Last year the S.A. relatives and I did our own off-road trip up into Zambia, and they had the neatest battery charger that plugged into the cigarette lighter thing-y and charged the camera batteries as we drove across the bundu. It really worked. I have the 1600 digital pics to prove it!

    Looking forward to the next thrilling installment of your journal. ‘Bye from hot, humid Ontario. MT

    Hi MT:

    Thanks for the encouragement. It’s nice to hear it from a ‘been there, done that’.
    I don’t know those words yet, but I’ll try to remember to look them up. I did learn a new one today though, azaqomba (eggs).
    I’m trying to get those sounds down and it ain’t easy!!

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