After the PermaGarden training, I caught a ride to Pretoria with the PC kombi, which was nice as it saved me R200+. J I had an appointment with the eye doctor on Friday, as I had broken both pairs of glasses that I brought to the country-sigh. I’m gonna blame the crazy bumpy kombi rides to town. Anywho, riding with PC was awesome because the kombie was clean, safe, had functioning AC, and wasn’t even full-woah! Basically the opposite of every SA kombi.
Lorato and I were heading off to Durban on Sunday night, but we had a few days of downtime in Pretoria between my appointment and Durban. As we hadn’t really had the opportunity to spend free time in PTA prior to this, it was rather nice! PTA is a clean, beautiful city that is full of trees, parks, and all the conveniences of the First World…quite different from my site. The first night there, we were introduced to an AMAZING Chinese restaurant in the Hatfield area (near the 2 main PC backpackers-1322 and Khayalethu BP). Kung Fu Kitchen….yum! Lorato and I got dumpling, beef lo mein, and a chicken dish that was to die for. We gobbled it up shamelessly….our first real American style Chinese food in about 9 months.
We spent the next day chilling at PCSA HQ, awaiting my appointment. There is a library and computers with free internet at the office, so we were able to entertain ourselves. Due to being in Africa, transport to the eye doctor was messed up, so I missed my appointment and was rescheduled for later in the day. Lorato and I decided to head over to the eye doctor early anyways, as it was in a mall! So we shopped for a few hours, and we both bought some new jeans-a necessity as winter approaches. We had fun shopping, then I got to pick out new glasses-even more fun!
The following day we joined two other PCVs from SA21 for a trip to the bird sanctuary. Though it is fall and there wouldn’t be many birds there, we decided it would be a fun day to spend the morning. We saw a few interesting birds, then walked back to Hatfield for lunch and a movie. I ate my first Big Mac EVER-and it was GOOD! Again, I hadn’t had Micky D’s since August, so it was a nice culinary trip home, as the food and fries are nearly identical to the US versions…so bad for me, but soooo good! After stuffing ourselves with McDonald’s, we headed to the movie theatre to see the Lorax. I grabbed a small popcorn and thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Haven’t had popcorn since America…
If you haven’t noticed, food is a big part of vacation. Life at site means a monotonous diet and few First World culinary experiences. So vacation is basically a huge eat-a-thon. 🙂
The following day we headed back to the Hatfield Square to a flea market!! I bought a few souvenirs and had fun looking at everything and haggling. I love flea markets. We were taking the overnight Intercape bus to Durban that night, so Lorato and I had a lazy day and prepared for sleepless night aboard the bus. Though our bus wasn’t until 7pm, we headed to the station around 5pm, as we didn’t have a whole lot to do. While sitting waiting for the bus, we met a few interesting people. One guy must have heard our accents, and came up to Lorato and I and started talking. He was from Michigan, I believe, and doing research on Zimbabwean immigration to SA. We had an interesting talks about our American takes on SA.
We also had an extremely interesting talk with a young Afrikaner woman about education in SA. We started talking about our work in the schools, and I mentioned my classes of 60+ learners. She was flabbergasted at the class size and could not believe that really existed! She was also stunned to learn that corporal punishment was common, as well as the low English levels, etc in the schools. This girl has lived in SA her whole life, but had no clue what rural schools we like. It was surprising to me, but then again it wasn’t. People from the cities do not know what rural life is like, but it was still intriguing to see how extremely surprised she was with our experiences.
Pretoria is a great place to stay for a few days, and I look forward to exploring it more over the next year and a half!