Sunday, August 26, 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007

Beauty, Frustration, Sadness and Joy

Rich vs Poor

I was speaking to my friend Rachel the other day and she convinced me to write about what its like in South Africa, brace yourself some of it you wont believe…

I think there are four main faces to SA. Beauty, Frustration, Sadness and Joy

Beauty: Even though its winter, there is a sight that you only see in Africa. Red sands, dry hard grass, and trees that all look like they turn upside down roots up in winter. There is a haze of smoke over the horizon, again only seen in winter. This is from the fires in the townships and the veld (bush) fires that are renowned for this time of year. We have not had rain for months now so everything is dry and brittle.

Frustration: Here time is known as African time for a reason. Everything happens when it happens. There are 3 phrases used daily in the context of ‘I will do it…….’ …now – meaning you will do it this instant. …….now now – meaning you will do it in the next 15 or so minutes. Lastly…… just now – meaning soonish (if ever).

My frustration has been never ending. Since I have arrived I have had issues with things getting done.

The passport I applied for four months ago, was going to take 6 weeks is still not ready. I tried to call for weeks now, but the complaints/help department keeps putting the phone down on me. I then tried a whole lot of other numbers that I found and they all tell me to phone the complaints/help line.
I had a lucky day on Monday and I spoke to six people who told me I couldn’t get a passport – with no reason of course. Eventually I spoke to angel sent from heaven who helped me. She found my application form still in the out box – it had never been processed. So now I wait six weeks… again.

Two weeks ago we had petrol distributor strikes. Petrol stations ran completely out of petrol and everyone only had what was in their tanks. We were told it could last up to two weeks, but thank goodness it only lasted 5 days.

Then my University teachers all went on strike for three weeks, since I am part of the arts campus and artists never strike, so my classes were only cancelled for one week. But this Tuesday I went in and after being there for 5 minutes we were all evacuated. We were told any cars caught on campus would be ‘beaten on’. Needless to say everyone left!

We have had post office strikes, metal workers union strikes, hospital strike.
Everyone here has a union even the SA Army has a union and they are known to strike too!

I will just leave you with this last experience. I went to the post office to post a box to Deric. On the address section at the end I wrote USA – the post office clerk, weighed it and then asked me if the USA was in England!

Sadness: The poverty here is desperate. On one side of the city there are shantytowns, made up of tin shacks and roofs kept on with tires. No toilets, no running water. Children running around playing in the dirt.
On the other there is beautiful homes, with large walls around them. On Wednesday mornings men walk the streets and go through the neighbourhoods dustbins, looking for food and recyclable goods that they can sell for recycling. So on Wednesday I make breakfast for the man who has claimed our dustbin. I can’t see him eating what we have discarded – I make him enough for breakfast and lunch. At least he is eating well for two meals of the week!
Its here you truly understand the saying ‘eat all your food on your plate, there are children starving in Africa!’ If you are not grateful here for what you have you will never be. The phrase HAVING NOTHING has a real meaning here for me. I think this will affect the way I raise my children.

Joy: The joy can be summed up with the positivity everyone has. Both back and white have such hope and so many dreams. Everyone is so excited to be South African. They understand the quirks of the country and love it with everything they have. Its got a wonderful vibe of western ways combined with African traditions. People all speak more than one language at a time in one sentence. Even the SA TV has 3-4 languages on one show.

Sport seems to bring people together. All the teams are given African names. The Rugby team our bokka (bucks) are called Ama book boko. The soccer team is Ama Bafana Bafana, the swimming team is Ama Glug Glug, and the paraplegic team is called the Ama Kroko Kroko. Its all fun and I guess that’s the best part of SA, the country really laugh at themselves and have a great time doing it.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Kailey's New Playgroup!

Last week I was in our local shopping center when I bumped into a friend who had a baby as old as Kailey. Her baby went towards Kai with open arms to hug and touch her, but Kai looked at her like she was made of cheese, and then to me as if to say ‘What the hell is that!’ I realized then that she has not spent much time with other kids.

So today we went off to a playgroup! I am not sure who had more fun, her or me. I got to speak to other moms (something I don’t get to do much here) and Kai got to play with other kids and learn about texture (today’s lesson)

Next Wednesday we start swimming lessons for 6-9 month olds. Apparently it’s a good idea to teach your child at this age water safety before they start crawling. Our class is for 12 weeks, for 30 min and yes I have to get into the pool with her. I now have to get a costume and my mind right for that moment…..

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Jo and Kai July Photos