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Archive for the ‘Just for fun’ Category

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Watching Maverick grow up was also a major highlight of 2012.

Better late than never, right?

Here is a list of some of our fun 2012 highlights, as decided upon between Carla, Miriam, Sofie and myself. Obviously when you work somewhere where you get to help people every day, there are countless highlights. However, these ones stuck out to us mostly because they embody the randomness and hilariousness that were our lives in 2012.

Ice cream corkage fee

The local restaurant didn’t have any exciting desserts, so we ran over to the store to grab some ice cream. Little did we know, when we were to bring it back the restaurant owner would charge us R30 for each ice cream.

That was quickly remedied by a visit by Carla to his office.

Prank on Henk

Not sure why all of our highlights occurred in Reef and Dune (see above), but once again on an evening out for dinner, a large group of us pulled a very nasty prank on our epically slow waiter. Running out of the restaurant and hiding behind a big bus, the look on his face was almost as priceless as how many other patrons came up and thanked us for our comedic performance.

Getting lost in RCB

When local South Africans give directions like: “Just look for the airplane on a big stick” you know you’re going to get lost. This is exactly what happened to Sofie and I when we tried to pick up our car in Richard’s Bay. Lesson to all: this town’s roads lead to the middle of no where.

World AIDS Day

Check out what we did for World AIDS Day – always a highlight of every year.

As you can see, there was very little champagne to go around, but it was enjoyed anyway.

As you can see, there was very little champagne to go around, but it was enjoyed anyway.

Team Champagne Dinner

Sofie arranged a lovely dinner out for our staff, which funnily coincided with me getting accepted into my MSc programme. Our Zulu staff thought I was joking when I said I’d buy us all champagne, but I did! Many questions then arose about how the bubbly would make everyone drunk, loud singing on the drive home ensued and a few headaches were felt the next morning.

Everyone had about three sips.

Finishing the container

Now for the real highlights – on project stuff. We were finally able to arrange the entire container into a library, and every Friday kids now read, hear stories and have the occasional dance. After months of organising, it was a great accomplishment to see.

Inkanyezi opening

Not to mention what a great honour it was to see the opening of Inkanyezi Creche. Seeing the principal, Mama Gumede, open the doors for the first time is a sight that will never leave us.

Chickens

Peak season at any job can be tough, and ours was busier than usual when the African Impact – Mozambique project was forced to close down due to visa issues and we were suddenly flooded with double the amount of volunteers for which we had planned.

Typically, we fed our stress each Sunday (sometimes Saturday) with a slow-roasted chicken from the local grocery store. Soaking in grease and delivered in a paper bag, we made sandwiches, or just picked chicken off the carcass, usually while watching Keeping up with the Kardashians on Chris’ TV. Let’s just say it kept us sane.

Team meetings everywhere

Dancing

When you work in the field of development, team meetings and pow-wows have to happen everywhere, anywhere and at any time. In the parking lot of the house, over coffee, after a few drinks, at the mechanic, in a bed, on the top of a mountain from your cell phone – when a meeting is needed, it is held.

Sofie’s birthday

Our most epic party was Sofie’s birthday – hands down. Everything typical of a night in South Africa – crappy music from the 90s, dancing, a blender, six litres of cocktails, a tasty braai, and whatever is happening in this photo.

Funny ailments

From bites and rashes to intestinal infections and flu, the volunteers came down with many ailments in 2012. But nothing could compare to Miriam, Sofie and I, who were all diagnosed with different types of fungal infections on the same day. Toenail, head, chin, each one of us left the pharmacy with a different concoction of sprays, pills and creams.

We’re so attractive.

Cyclone

Let’s just say, Sofie left for a week and in the meantime a cyclone hit and the house flooded. I don’t want to talk about it. Why did we say this was a highlight!?

Motorcycle accident

Every once in a while, while living in South Africa, there is a good chance you will stumble across an act of racism. However, one night I also witnessed two Afrikaans men refuse to help a fellow white South African after he had assaulted a black man for doing absolutely nothing. And then been bumped off his motorcycle in retaliation. True karma.

No volunteers reading club

Every once in a while, when there are no volunteers, us staff take over and take time to remember how incredible it is to be a volunteer.

Magic Mike

The one time in 2012 that we all went to watch a film and we chose Magic Mike. Think about that.

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If all the luck I had at Home Affairs were a horseshoe, this upside-down, decomposing one would be it.

It’s back-to-school time, which means procrastination time, which means blogging time.

So I will update you on the latest story.

Everything always goes pear-shaped when it comes to my South African visas. Ever since my first visa extension took six months to arrive, essentially screwing any chance I had to use any of the documents I’d gathered while at home (they would expire while I waited out my long-awaited extension), my luck at Home Affairs has been like an upside-down horseshoe.

So as the date of my visitor’s visa’s expiration drew closer, Chris and I made the decision to get me a life partner visa, so I could continue my work with African Impact as well as study for school in South Africa uninterrupted by trips home every three months. Instead, the life partner visa would last for two long years, and enable me the chance to apply for residency and a work permit.

After three separate trips to Home Affairs (the nearest one being an hour away), I discovered Chris needed to be present when I filed my application – and thus began the discovery of just how exhausting this visa process would be.

Currently working in the Northern Cape, Chris made his way to KZN during the second week of September to visit with a lawyer for a notarial contract, which was required for my visa. Already the word “attorney” being thrown into the visa discussion had prompted an “are you sure you want to do this?” phone call on my part, but on our first full day together, Chris and I trekked to Mtuba to visit the nearest one.

Settled into the lawyer’s office, we got the news that a special “notary” had to write our contract – the nearest one being another hour and a half away. After making an appointment, we retired for the day, feeling a little discouraged but nonetheless ready for the next day.

Our “Life Partner” party, hosted by Carla and Miriam, with a cake and all.

And ready we would have to be, as we got up bright and early to head to Empangeni to Chris James’ office, where we were welcomed into a helpful and quick-paced meeting.

(Spoiler alert: This is the only time I will use “helpful” and “quick-paced” in a sentence relating to my visa).

A notarial contract drawn up and a trip to Nando’s later and we had a document securing the legality of our “committed relationship.”

On to the hospital we went, which is where we should have anticipated a snail’s pace. The lack of any sort of urgency in this country (even at a hospital) still shocks me to the core. We waited so long getting my x-ray results (surprise! I don’t have TB), that Home Affairs had nearly closed…

Which didn’t matter, because on our arrival we were told my police checks were all wrong, and got sent to the dreaded upstairs of Home Affairs, where a very nasty lady met us with glares and sneers about how I was late with my application and how I would have to board a flight home.

That’s when I took after my mother and burst into tears. Low and behold I should do this more often, as Mrs. Home-Affairs melted like butter in front of us and told us exactly what to do to rectify my life-partner-visa-meltdown.

Again a discouraged trip home, where Carla’s “Life Partner Party” awaited us. We spent a hilarious night out with our friends, a great way for Chris to see everyone he’s been missing. Complete with a “Mr. and Mrs. Quiz” (I think that may have crossed a line there), we were rejuvenated to fight out the next saga of our Home Affairs battle the following day.

The dirty, dirty sink at the Mtubatuba Police Station.

Fingerprinting at Mtubatuba Police Station was next on our list, and was a typical Africa-style visit. The women in the office exploded at my ability to speak a limited amount of Zulu, and kept telling Chris he was a “lucky man.”

Having to wash my hands in a cigarette-butt-infested outdoor tap was met with shock and horror by the ladies, who ushered me into a private staff bathroom and allowed me to borrow their hand cream. Lovely! This day was off to a wonderful start!

Home Affairs looked a lot less daunting as we spent two and a half hours walking the official through our application, which seemed to miraculously be all in order. Despite having to sign even MORE documents about the legitimacy of our relationship (“oh just scratch out ‘spouse’ and write in ‘life partner’ the official told me…) we left Home Affairs exactly three weeks before the expiration of my visa with a receipt in hand.

“When will it be finalised?” I asked the official, “In the next month?”

“Oh, you’ll be lucky to get it,” she laughed.

I will take it that as English is not her first language, she meant we would be lucky to get the results of the visa in the next month, but her tone and phrase still haunt me a little.

I guess now it’s just a waiting game.

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I’m a little late with this one, but I thought I would introduce you all to the newest member of my very small family here in South Africa.

I spent weeks (read: months and months) trying to convince Chris to get a dog. Maybe I was a little forward or pushy about it, I’ll admit, but in the end he finally caved once he realised he would be getting a flat with a big yard.

So after many of those online quizzes, lots of discussions and me begging for a Boerboel (that was a lost cause), we decided on a German Shorthaired Pointer.

Thinking I was the expert in buying pets, despite Chris having owned dogs before, I headed to the Internet and started searching. After a few weeks, numerous phone calls, and frantic e-mails to Chris reading “PHONE THIS PERSON THEY’RE AFRIKAANS!” Chris finally took the reins, opened up a magazine and found us a puppy within fifteen minutes.

And so we got the last male puppy of a litter out in the Free State in a town close to where Chris would be driving over the Christmas holidays, and he picked him up on his way through to his parent’s house in the Northern Cape. Meanwhile, I was relegated to e-mail pictures of our new puppy from Chris’ blackberry, as I was already in Canada for the holidays. But when I returned, both Chris and Maverick (named after Tom Cruise’s character in Top Gun, as Chris is a pilot) were waiting for me at the airport. What a lovely sight!

Apologies for the delay, but here are some pictures of Maverick, our German Shorthaired Pointer:

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While contemplating a seriously long hiatus from my blog (I know, I’m sorry), I also began thinking of all the silly questions I ask myself – mostly the result of living in South Africa and working where I do. So I have compiled a list of the questions that come to mind on a regular basis that provide a bit of a chuckle, considering just how different life is here.

  1. How can I avoid stepping on a frog in the dark?
  2. Is the length of this skirt/these shorts culturally appropriate?
  3. Should I really have another beer when we have to go to the Induna’s wife’s funeral tomorrow morning?
  4. How much later really is Africa Time?
  5. Is the water that is collected when it rains in the JoJo tank really safe to use for washing dishes?
  6. How close can I get to that hippo without it charging me?
  7. Will brick-building/painting/garden be cancelled again this week because of rain?
  8. How much rain does a cyclone cause?
  9. Is that a dead animal?
  10. Is that smell a dead animal?
  11. Whose cows are these?
  12. Will these crops grow if we plant them now?
  13. How many bananas will an entire creche eat?
  14. Is this a mosquito bite?
  15. Is that plane Chris?

…And many more to come.

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How time flies

Just over a year ago, I was playing this song on repeat.

It’s funny how so much can change in such a small space of time.

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 It was only a matter of time before this happened,  let’s be honest. However, walking barefoot  everywhere and working barefoot on the projects, I  would have bet money on it happening while I was  mixing cement, plastering a house or digging post  holes during our Inkanyezi refurbishment project. I  haven’t even stubbed a toe while gardening, walking  barefoot around Khula, or out at the bar (don’t  worry, I bring my shoes so I don’t have to go  barefoot into the toilets).

Instead of all of those logical reasons for getting a broken toe, I broke mine by dropping a 2L bottle of frozen milk on it. What is more interesting is that dropping said bottle of milk on my toe meant I couldn’t go to church for the first time since I was 11.

Yes, I had planned on going to church. A few of my friends here in South Africa attend churches in Mtubatuba, so I figured why not? The women who work for us at African Impact all attend church, and I’m constantly surrounded by it on the projects and in the communities. I find people’s faith refreshing, and I enjoy hearing about why church and having a connection with God makes people feel despite the lack of any kind of structured spirituality in my own life.

I would consider myself Agnostic – I’m really not certain what I believe, nor have I really put that much thought into it. So I thought no time like the present to attempt to discover whether I’m the spiritual type that would enjoy attending church. At the very least I’d meet some more people and make friends, right?

Wrong. No church for me. Instead, an incredibly sore, swollen, black toe. I’m trying not to take it as a sign, and will try going to church next Sunday. If a higher power doesn’t want me practicing religion, let’s just hope the next sign doesn’t cause me any more bodily harm.

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