Finetastic Adventures

Monday, June 18, 2007

What's going on with us

Though we just recently updated the blog, there is much that we would like to chronicle.  The blog is not only a good way for family and friends to keep up with our goings-on, but it serves as our permanent journal.  My handwritten journal is great for personal ramblings, but this is the best way for us to remember not only our insights, but the whens and whereabouts of our time here.  As you may recall from the most recent post, our weekends had been extremely busy; so I want to recall what has gone on.

Dave and I made a friend here months ago who lives nearby and is our age.  She is single and is a sales rep, which means she has a company car.  We enjoy being with her, and were thrilled when she decided she needed to take a break from work for a long weekend.  So, for four days, we took day trips from our backpackers in Hazyview, in the province of beautiful Mpumalanga.  It was a long holiday weekend at the end of April.  Though we had seen a lot of this area (our IST had been in nearby White River and the Long Tom based in Sabie) we hadn't seen many of the sights that require a car.  We spent one full day in Kruger, spotting 4 of the 'big 5' (no rhino), half a day at a terrific garden in Nelspruit, and saw some waterfalls and vistas that are breathtaking.  On the way home we stopped at a very interesting animal rehab center.  We also took advantage of having a car by stopping at a sports store to buy some free weights; for months we had only bricks and rubber tubing to use for staying buff.  And it would have been difficult to haul the weight set on either our bikes or the taxi.  (For photos of our 'gym' and this trip, check out   And it turns out we were fortunate that her company didn't ask for payment for petrol, so the trip costs us little - true to Peace Corps spirit!

We headed to Pretoria the following weekend to meet on Saturday with the director of the PC from Washington, Ron Tschetter.  One of his initiatives is to recruit more 'mature' volunteers, so he had asked for a meeting with those of us over 50.  About 15 of us talked with him for a couple of hours and were hopeful that he really heard what we had to say.

The next weekend we had 4 PCVs come to stay with us.  All are in their twenties and in the education sector (as opposed to NGO).  We had a full house indeed, with the married couple staying in our 'second bedroom' and the other two in our 'lounge' area.  Four is definitely the limit for sleepovers; this is the second time we've had four and it is the cutoff!  A fifth person would have to sleep on the bathroom floor and risk being stepped or pissed on at night!  We had a great weekend; Sunday was Mothers' Day and they presented me with flowers.  We spent most of that day at the home of a couple we had met earlier through the bicycle club; food, drink, and conversation were great - and we stayed out after dark!

In mid May we spent Friday and Sunday traveling to and from Potch(efstroom), about 6 hours by bus from home.  A fellow PCV turned 30 and we had been invited weeks before to attend the celebration.  Well, it was like being back in college.  We stayed with a PCV who lives in a room near campus; fortunately we were given our own floor space in a separate hallway, while the 6 or so of them slept all over her room.  We even attended a birthday party for a 21 year old friend of hers; it was a costume party and, without even having to dress for it, we went as older people.  It was a fun weekend, being accepted again by a different age group, but I must say I am glad we don't live in Potch. (sorry Liz)

For a couple of days in mid-late May we were freezing!  Winter solstice is just around the corner now, but those two late fall days were a shock to our system.  We found it too cold to ride our bikes to work, and while at work all day we kept on everything we had worn, which was several layers.  With no heat in homes or at work, you are no warmer indoors than out, unless the wind is blowing.  Lately most of the days have warmed up after starting off cool, but not those two days!  I was glad to have gloves and a hat; but we haven't been that cold again and the weather is perfect, rising to the low 20's (low 70's F) during the day.  This kind of winter we can stand!

The last Friday in May was a day that PC ordered us not to report to work; it was the beginning of the public sector strike that is still looming.  So a PC couple who lives in a nearby village came over on Friday for dinner, which (remember) means staying overnight.  A 'mature' volunteer based in the NorthWest Province came to stay for the first weekend in June, and the following Saturday a PCV from near Nelspruit came for dinner and the night.

So of course we were really looking forward to this last weekend, one week before we were due to visit Alyssa in Mauritius.  But this was not to be; Dave had to leave unexpectedly for Detroit on Saturday when we got news that his mother was not doing well.  Seeing Alyssa will have to wait; as we await word of Dave's mother's progress.

In the meantime, I will work and spend my first time alone in South Africa.  While Dave was in the air on Fathers' Day I had a wonderful long bicycle ride; and watched the Comrades Marathon on tv.  This is an incredible, grueling 89 Km run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, now in its 82nd year, and it is covered live for 13 hours on one of the three national channels. (Coverage of races here, both running and bicycling, is one thing that still amazes us.)  Comrades is quite the event, and at least two PCVs ran it this year.  I will head to Pretoria at week's end for a meeting and an appointment, and possibly visit another PCV for a few days since our NGO is closed for winter break.  And wait for Dave to return with good news.....


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