It’s a wonderful day in the neighbourhood . . .

At long last and just in time, I got to SHOP today!! With Oscar gone, there was no one to even drive me in to Manguzi, so I was determined to take a local taxi-bus or bakkie and go anyway. There were so many things I wanted to see there – just poke around – and things I wanted to get for gifts, and Oscar just wants to rush in, hit the bank and the grocery store and rush back here.

I know he’s got lots else on his plate, but Jeez Louise!, my once in a lifetime trip and I don’t get to look around? What kind of a trip would that be?

Anyway, I went to the lodge to ask the girls there how to get it done, and one of my computer students, Fanisile, was going in to town too, so said I could tag along. Then Tom, the manager said he was driving in at noon, so we waited for him – then he changed his mind for no apparent reason.

So there we were, at the hottest part of the day, standing by the roadside waiting for a taxi or bakkie to come along. Fanisile’s barely breaking a sweat on her brow, and my clothes are soaked through, and the sweat is running in rivers into my eyes!! I finally went and sat in the shade, and she stood sentry by the roadside watching for a ride. I was just about to give up and go back to the cabin when a taxi came along.

So we got to town, did the bank, grocery store, poked around and I hit the craft guys with a vengeance. Also got a new facecloth, which I really needed. I only brought one – no place much puts washcloths out anymore – and it’s really grim from washing sand and sweat off my face, and I can’t get it clean by hand washing. It needs to go to the laundry, though I’m not sure, going by previous experience, that they’ll do much better.

Anyway, it was really great, just wandering around and poking into little shops. Boy, I wish I’d had my camera with me, but knew I couldn’t carry it with all the other stuff I planned to get. One woman by the roadside, in full African dress, with a baby tied to her back and a parasol – what a photo that would have been! And the little shops, maybe 8′ x 10′, made out of second hand lumber, that line the streets. Or women just sitting on a blanket with their wares. I’ve got video, though – hope it turns out well.

One thing I don’t understand though, is the number of well-off black women who drive their cars around, and never stop to pick up anyone. You’d think they’d at least stop for the women with babies, or the working women trying so hard to get from work to home and back.

It costs about R14 to get to town from here, and that’s about $2 Cdn. If the average earnings for these working women is about R1,000 a month, then transportation to and from work takes a huge chunk of their wages.

Coming home was such an absolute HOOT, I can’t ever describe it to you well enough. Here were Fan and I, with half a dozen huge shopping bags, an enormous sack of maize meal, a big plastic dishpan and me with my big backpack stuffed full too. We went to the taxi rank at the mall (Yes, there is a mall, even) and our taxi-bus was there and mostly full – but ‘full’ is not a word an African taxi driver understands – there is always room for one or two more. So, much of the bus had to get out in order for Fan and I to get placed inside with our baggage.

Picture it – an ancient VW mini bus, crammed with the driver and his 16 (!!!) passengers and their bags. Little old ladies dipping snuff, and the radio is on blaring the African version of stomping, yee-hawing, geetar-picking country music (maskanda) at top decibels as we blast down the road, going like 60. Various parts of other peoples anatomies sticking into you, your own parcels piled on top of you and under your feet, and every bump and swerve (worst pot-holes in creation here) making you bonk your head on the roof or window. I laughed all the way home, just wishing I could see that scene in a movie some day.

Of course, since I didn’t have my camera, the sunset was spectacular – peach coloured sky and the clouds looked baby blue against it. AND two duikers, a red one and a grey one actually stood still as I passed. They never do *that* when I have a camera!!

Well, got to go to school tomorrow, so off to bed now. Love ya all – and hope your day was as good as mine. Oh, and MT – thanks so much for that article. It was wonderful! I had already given my grade 7s and 8s a copy of that poster that shows the frog half swallowed by the crane, and hanging onto the crane’s neck, and it’s labelled “Never give up”. Hope they remember that.

A common type of home here

Lioness at dusk, in hunting mode

Good grief!! Ther’s an elephant almost right outside the computer room, and only a skinny wire fence btween us – I’m outta here!!!!!

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1 Comment »

  1. MT said

    Sawubona, grannym!

    ** Yebo, MT! This will be short and sweet today. Just wanted to make sure you also knew that if you double-click on any photo, you will get a large version – or maybe it was Teana that just found out about the mouse-overs? I’m too tired to look tonight. Take care and enjoy the cool weather. I could do with a bit of that right now.
    Planniing to start the Durban experience with a decadent day at the spa and get the dust rinsed and pounded out of my pores . Bloody elephant is back – Bye, now!! ***

    Well, you sound like a happy camper today after the shopping expedition. Nothing like a good snoop-around to perk up the spirits. Good that you had your friend as a guide in this thrilling sojourn into town. Your description of the loosely-named taxi was right on. Could have only been better if live poultry or swine were involved. Yes, the cost for the working people is heavy – and some of the drivers unscrupulous – they up the fares regularly – and the riders can’t complain because they are stuck with no alternative. When I first started going to S.A. there were many proper local buses, but they were phased out and independent taxi drivers (and taxi wars) took over. No N. American can truly appreciate the African scene without experiencing it, yet so many are ready to tell (from afar) the locals how to run their lives and government. Again, I’d like to drop all those people who complain about what they don’t have here into KZN for just a week or so – then hear their stories (if they survive to tell them). But enough of the rant …

    Glad you could use the article re literacy. By now you are realizing that our idea of being fully literate and what you are experiencing are two completely different things. Hope you are taking pride in what you have accomplished in the classroom and in the computer tutoring. Sounds like the two girls are doing well at the keyboard. As to the third – no one knows what stresses she has that prevent her from advancing. You will be recognizing that there are sooooooo many stresses there that we never even think about here at home.

    Your pictures are great! Hope that you will put a lot of them on this blog when you get to better equipment. Would so enjoy seeing more.

    Hope you have got your ride to Durban organized by now. Have you considered asking at the hospital in town? Surely they have staff that must travel back and forth regularly. I expect your trip would be via Josini. I remember that place well – had a similar shopping experience as the one you had today – trapped in a wholesalers ( Boxer Store?) with the music blaring at painful level – unforgettable. Made me want to toyi-toyi right there on the street!

    Just thought of something else interesting to do in Durban. At one time the Natal Sharks’ Board allowed people in to see a shark autopsy. Every day their ski-boats would go out to check the nets off the Durban beaches, and they would drive a open truck full of sharks that had been tangled in the nets up to the research station near La Lucia (not St. Lucia – this place is about a half-hour north up the coast from Durban). The sight of the poor dead sharks piled up on the truck scared the bejeezus out of the tourists heading for the beach, that’s for sure. Anyway, the scientists would cut open the sharks to see what they had been eating, etc., etc., and the interested public could watch. I did so, with a Kleenex over my nose the whole time, and it was fascinating. However when I got home, my room-mate informed me we were having fish for supper – a little off-putting – but I survived. Would do it again in a minute.

    Looking forward to knowing that you got to your hut safely after the elephant-near-the computer episode ……….. and to the next installment of the blog.

    Good night from cool Ontario! Fall is defintiely in the air!! MT

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