In SA, PCVs are grouped into (usually) groups of 5-8 around a shopping town. Over the next two years, I can travel to my shopping town whenever (not during school hours) without taking a vacation day. And all of us PCVs have the chance to meet up and have a good meal at a restaurant in our shopping town whenever. The main function of a shopping town is to be a place where I can buy all manner of groceries, clothes, and other such necessities of life that I cannot find in my village.
From what I hear from other PCVs, the Vryburg 7 kinda got the crappy deal in shopping towns. I mean, some people have Kimberly, Kuruman, or even Pretoria as their shopping town! I would like to describe Vryburg to my friends and family from home, so be prepared for Iowa references.
Having Vryburg as a shopping town is a little like going to the Ottumwa mall to do your back to school shopping-the only people who do that are people who live in tiny towns near Ottumwa and think the mall is impressive. 🙂 Vryburg has many shops and several grocery stores, but everything is located essentially on one street, over the span of 4 blocks or so. On one hand this is nice, as I can’t get lost. One the other hand, now that I have explored the shops and whatnot, I am realizing how little variety there is. It reminds me of a small Iowa town, like Sigourney or Blakesburg, just with more shops.
Vryburg has several good restaurants, including KFC, Wimpys, Steers, and Spur. It’s a nice place to get a good burger, but in all reality the “fine dining” is barely above fast food. We have no stores like Game (Walmart) or Checkers, and forget about any movie theatres! While I can get everything I need in Vryburg, it is not a very entertaining destination. Unless you go to eat lunch with other PCVs, there’s not much to do. Given that a lot of shopping towns have malls and interesting things to do, this is kinda a bummer. Though I’m curious what some of the shopping towns in Limpopo are like (Kelsey, thoughts?).
I do save more money by having nothing to do in my shopping town though-a plus for when vacation times comes in December! Bungee jump? Oh yeah!!
I am lucky because Ganyesa is about 40km away, and it has a Shoprite grocery store, a PEP (clothes, housewares) and several other shops and an incredible restaurant at a Guest Lodge (hotel). It’s closer than Vryburg, my real shopping town, and convenient. Plus another PCV lives there, so I can hang out with volunteers there too.