Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Back to the Village

After a whirlwind move and less than 72 hours in my new home, I packed another bag and headed to Pretoria. It was quite a trip. Thanks to the terrible inefficiencies of South African public transport, what should have been a miserable trip by taxi turned into an interesting journey by both vehicle and train.

I left my village Sunday afternoon. The taxi to town doesn't leave until midday on Sundays, and even then it waits until it's full. Full seems to be defined by at least one person crouched on the floor. On this particular day, the taxi wandered through the village for HOURS before picking up sufficient passengers. Thus, it was growing dark by the time I reached Kuruman. My next stop was another village, about a half hour from town, where my friend J lives. She had generously agreed to watch Rusty for the week while I was away. She also had generously arranged transport for me from town. All I had to do was wait for my ride to appear. (Sidenote: J is engaged! Her boyfriend came to visit over the Easter break, and they've decided to get hitched as soon as her service ends. I can't wait for the party! Congratulations!) My ride was a Bangladeshi shopkeeper and his Tswana friend. They arrived past eight, and we all proceeded to J's village. It was a fun trip, bizarre, but fun. At J's, there was pasta carbonara and a pile of blankets. It was just what I needed to pysch myself up for the long trip to Pretoria the next day.

Unfortunately for those of you deeply interested in all of the tiny details of my daily life, I'm not telling about what happened Monday. I could, but I think it would be in poor taste. Anyway, many thanks to Raymond, Errol (the seismologist) and the man from Krugersdorp who said God would bless me on my journey. I arrived safe and sound in Pretoria late that night, and waltzed right into the arms of another volunteer staying at the backpackers. It was a pleasant surprise after an uncomfortable day.

Tuesday was spent at the Peace Corps office, chatting with a volunteer from Botswana who was supposed to be flying home after an injury while skydiving but was grounded due to volcanic ash, watching movies, eating pizza and generally relaxing.

Wedenesday was my trial date. The safety and security coordinator and I were supposed to meet at seven, but he was delayed due to a taxi strike blocking roads as the drivers marched on the Union Buildings to protest the Bus Rapid Transit system being put in place for the World Cup. Meanwhile the municipal workers have already been on strike for a week or so. *sigh* It's just another day in South Africa. Anyway, we finally meet up and head to the Bakgatla Ba Mocha Tribal Authority for the trial (yes, the same one from January for a crime committed in August). This time the defendant actually shows up. I get up to the witness box, after hours of waiting, but instead of testifying I am informed that the accused has now decided to request a lawyer. The trial is now pushed back until July 21st. In the meantime, the defendant is being charged with either a 1,500 rand fine or 3 months in jail for failure to show.

Back in Pretoria that night, I had dinner with some volunteers recently returned from their travels. While in Durban they were mugged in broad daylight in a residential area at gunpoint and knifepoint. She escaped unscathed, he a little bloody, and both lost their wallets, passports, cell phones, everything. On the bright side, Peace Corps and the U.S. Consulate really pulled together for them and they received counseling, medical care, a hotel room, a small sum of money and even a visit from the ambassador! "Hi, I'm Don... the ambassador." So while the attack is certainly scary, it's good to know that volunteers are taken care of when they need it.

Thursday was an excellent day. My friend G arrived, and we did some shopping (chenille throw rugs), eating (pizza), and saw a movie (The Blind Side). This pattern was repeated on Saturday with the addition the Pretoria Art Museum (better than I expected). Saturday we had plans to visit a cheetah reserve, but we were rained out. Instead we met with another group of volunteers for taco night. Delicious!

Sunday I began the trip back to site, with a quick stop to retrieve Rusty. I'm now back in Lopeng and it seems as if winter has finally arrived. It's cold and rainy, an odd combination considering that winter is the dry season, but there is a definite chill in the air. Thank goodness for fleece and flannel!

In other news, I have a new e-mail address: kmsoeth@gmail.com

It's not configured with my Blackberry, so I don't check it as often as my current one, but please use it. It's easier for me to keep track of everything there.

Also, I finally have a mailing address for my new site! I'm sharing a box in town. You can write to me at:
Private Bag * 1532
Post Net Suite 120
Kuruman 8460

Please write soon!

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