Thursday, July 15, 2010

Random Bits and Pieces

It's still cold here, but my fingers are reasonably thawed. Nothing gets the blood pumping like functional relationships!

First order of business: the rest of vacation.

We left New Bethesda in the early afternoon and drove north to Kestell. Apparently it's a very beautiful area but we arrived in darkness and left early the following day. The backpackers was lovely, and provided hot water bottles. I was to glad to not be the only person who had never used one before. Strange, but effective little buggers.

The reason we scampered away so fast was so that we could get to Pretoria in time to catch the U.S.-Algeria game. First we had to locate our accomodations. Finding a place with space for five during the World Cup should have been impossible, but thanks to a particularly lovely guesthouse owner we all wound up sharing a "cottage". This particular cottage had three bedrooms, a laundry room, a kitchen with granite countertops, two bathrooms, a patio and private garden, and so much more. On every bed was a bathrobe! Best of all was the Peace Corps discount. Second best was breakfast (huge, delicious).

Anyway, we checked in. Two of us dragged ourselves off to the game (played at a rugby stadium) while everyone else relaxed in the lap of luxury.

The game was great. We won by one goal in overtime. I suppose it would have been even more fun if we hadn't found ourselves surrounded by Algerians, but that was a cultural experience in itself.

The following day, one traveled to Mpumalanga and another of our little party flew back to the States. The remaining three, the ladies, did a little shopping. We decided to extend our rental car for a few more days. This meant that we could transport large items back to our sites. Large items like ovens! I have been baking up a storm ever since.

Ovens and people crammed back into the Toyota we took off for G's site, near Rustenburg. As we got closer, she informed us to just follow the signs for the Borakalalo Game Park. Suddenly we were faced with a choice: stick to the plan and drive all the way back to the Northern Cape, or stop and stay awhile at a game park? We stopped. We saw giraffes, wildebeest, zebras and plenty of birds. In fact, we spent so much time there we barely made it out before the gates closed.

Back at G's, we baked bread and watched movies before collapsing into the kind of deep sleep only brought on by extreme cold.

When morning came, we said "Sayonara" to Gabi and hit the road towards my site. It was a long, exhausting drive in which we managed to puncture a tire. We had it fixed in Kuruman and set out for Loopeng around sunset. While J did the overwhelming majority of the driving, I did some too! She was an excellent, excellent teacher.

I only spent a few days in Loopeng before J and I popped back in our rental car and went back to Pretoria, en route to an IT workshop held at another volunteer's site outside the city.

The volunteers (a married couple) live at a Catholic mission. As a result, the accomodations provided for the female workshop participants were located in a convent, which we shared with the Sisters of Mercy.

The sisters were so sweet and tons of fun. I think everyone enjoyed them. I especially, because I was sick. They brought me tea, took me to the clinic, and generally kept me company.

I recovered shortly, and it was time to go back to Loopeng. Vacation was over and work was calling.

Work continues to call. I'm back in class, teaching math, fixing things, trying desperately to get a materials donation from a local hardware store. The usual. Next week I'll be in Pretoria, eating cheeseburgers and pizza. For now I'm very lucky to have bread, tinned fish and tomatoes. (It's lunchtime, can you tell?)

Well, that's all for now folks.

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