African Time

As I waited outside in the cold yesterday morning for transport to a workshop, I decided to occupy my time with tracking the sunrise. Oh African Time….at least the sun was beautiful. And really, 45 minutes isn’t really considered late here.
-Jen

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When Traveling Becomes an Endless Adventure

Monday was a travel day to the PermaGarden workshop up in Bray.  A whole day is almost always required for a meeting or workshop in SA, mainly because we have to use the quite-unreliable public transport system.  The plan was that I would be at the road out of my village by 7am, when bakkes and possibly the bus are most likely to come.  I got there a bit before 7, and ended up waiting at least 45 minutes until someone was able to give me a life to Lorato’s village.  Then I met up with Lorato, and we stopped by the clinic to pick up a CV (resume) for someone.

That’s where the craziness of the day started.  We ended up waiting over an hour for this document, and then rushed over to the taxi rank, hoping we would be able to find a taxi headed to Ganyesa.  It was past 9am by this time, and a little late for getting a kombi there.  Luckily there was one, but it was completely empty.  So we waited and waited and waiting, then drove around for awhile, and the kombi eventually filled up.  So we rolled into Ganyesa and made a quick stop at the resource center that Tsiamo works at, arriving around 11.  Then we go to Shoprite, grab some food, and sit down outside Shoprite to wait for the PC transport that will take us to Bray (which is literally on the Botswana border).

By this time it is nearly 1pm, and the transport is supposed to arrive at 2pm. Our counterparts are not there yet, but neither is the PC transport, so all is good.  We wait, and wait and wait and wait, and then at around 3pm we call PC to find out where the transport is, and how much longer we might be waiting.

Then we get the news-the kombi is completely full, so even though it is almost to Ganyesa, we will have to wait for the PC bakke to come from Bray to pick us up.  Bray is at least 1.5 hours away. So we settle down to wait for another hour and a half.  We are frustrated, but we can deal.  This is Africa, after all.

An hour passes, and Lorato’s phone rings.  It is our APCD Lydia, telling us that the bakke got lost, and they were just now sending the kombi to Bray.  So it will be another hour and a half at least.  This concerns us because we are waiting outside Shoprite, which isn’t entirely safe to begin with. There is also a liquor store right next to us, which is REALLY not safe to be at as the sun sets.  So we do some quick thinking and head over to a teacher’s house in Ganyesa, and wait for the kombie. Finally, around 7pm, we hop on the kombi and being the 150km trek to Bray, partially on dirt roads. 

Around 8:30pm, we pull into Bray and breathe a sigh of relief.  Just then, the kombi jerks to a stop.  The driver floors it, and then we realize we are stuck in the sand.  Seriously.  We attempt to push it out of the sand, but 5 people vs a 14 person kombi…yeah.  Nope.  Finally an pair of Afrikaner women drive by in a truck, and we explain what happened.  They run home and get a rope, and after several minutes of pushing, pulling, deflating tires, and pushing some more, we get it out!!! 

We finally make it to the lodge at sometime past 9pm, and scarf down some food then head to bed.  What a day!  It took 14+ hours of travel (at least 9 hours of which were spent just waiting) to travel what should have been about 3 hours.  Eesh…you Americans have nothing on PC travel stories.  🙂

Just Another Day in Africa

PC organized a workshop for our principals and us, and for the Vryburg 7, ours was held Thursday and Friday, Feb 23-24, in the Boereplass resort (for lack of better word….sketch resort?) near Vryburg. Now, being SA, details for this were finalized about 2 weeks in advance. But I told both of my principals, and they knew they had to organize transport for the 3 of us.

I knew on Wednesday that transport was posing a slight problem. You see, one principal owns a bakke, but it only has 2 seats. Shoving the three of us in it for the 1.5+hour ride to town was not really an option. We also couldn’t go with Lorato’s schools because their vehicles only held 5 people, and we would be 6. (Man, SA English is getting to me….”we would be 6”, not “there were 6 of us”) However, I went home to pack, trusting my principals and knowing I had no power to fix the problem anyways.
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Instead of going to KPS (and walking 5km with my heavy bag), I head to MPS on Thursday as we were planning to leave around 10am and get a computer fixed at the district office in Vryburg. Win-win, nee? I get to school and Mma Makobo informs me that we still didn’t have transport. Sigh. Then Mr. Maretela (my other principal) drives over and informs us that he is not going, and he isn’t sending anyone in his place. Now, it was really REALLY important that both schools were respresented, so I sms my APCD Lydia to warn her. She was not happy.

So, I putter around the school all day in a state of uncertainty while Mma Makobo tries to find us a ride to Vryburg. I knew it was quite unlikely that the computer would be fixed, and I was just hoping to GET there at some point. Finally, at about 2pm, she pulls an educator over and (probably just) tells him he is taking us to Ganyesa, where we would meet up with our transport. Of course, we stop in Phaposane so Mma Makobo could change her shoes, which is not quite on the way to Ganyesa.

We bump down the terrible roads, all the way to Ganyesa and Mr. Kgoatla leaves us at the Ganyesa police station, where we would meet the transport. After TWO HOURS of sitting in the police station, we finally get the car and head towards Vryburg. It is 4:30pm, the workshop starts at 5pm, and we are 1.5 hours away. I sms Lydia, and she tells me not to worry or rush, and to grab tea and sammies (sandwiches) when we get here.

After stopping to pick up a hitchhiker in Ganyesa-seriously, do not worry, this is BEYOND normal in Africa-we speed out of Ganyesa, reaching a top speed of 145kmph. As we leave Ganyesa, I see a billboard that has pictures of wildlife and foliage and says “Just Another Day in Africa”. I laugh to myself, realizing that all the waiting, being stared at, frustration, sweating, bumping, and desires to bash my head against the wall are indeed “just another day in Africa”.

We reach Vryburg, drop the hitchhiker off at the hospital, then stop at the Pick N Pay complex so Mma Makobo can buy airtime. Even though we are about an hour late, I’m happy because I can get money from the ATM and mail a few letters (Vic, Meg, and Alicia B, you are the lucky ones this week!). Then we zoom off down the road to Boereplaas, getting lucky with a short wait at the construction. We pull up about 6pm, when the PCVs and principals are working separately, discussing frustrations and whatnot. I walk up and say “African Time” in a weary voice.

Just another day in Africa. But I love it.

-Jen

Site Annoucements!

Yesterday we finally got our site announcements!  The big PC wait is over, finally!  I know where I will be settled for the next two years, and next week I shall visit my site for four days-exciting!  Though I will miss my host family I have now. 😦

I can’t give you specifics about where I will be, because PC has its policies.  Apparently we’re soft targets for terrorists….so no location is given here.  I can tell you that I will be in Northwest province, but near Northern Cape.  So a bit away from Pretoria and where I am now.  My shopping town is Vryburg, but that’s as much as I will say here.  If you are dying to know where I am, shoot me an email.

I have several PCTs (soon to be PCVs) that are stationed near me, which is pretty awesome.  One will live about 10km away, and another about 30km away.  The others are a bit farther out, but still close.  Oh, I’m pretty close to the Botswana border-I envision a trip there in my future…  And I can use my Setswana there as well, apparently.  Though it is a bit different than SA Setswana.

I have 2 schools, although I was only given information on one of them.  That one happens to be an upper primary school (not sure what that means) and is looking for someone to help with English, economics/accountancy, and computers.  I shall likely not be helping much with economics and accountancy, but you never know!

My house is said to have electricity, but no running water.  There is a tap in the yard though, which is a plus.   There are 3 adults and 7 children at my home-shoooo!  A big family, and lots of people to talk to!  🙂  I have my own room/area with a separate exterior door though, so I’m not actually in the house.

Well, I will tell y’all more when I get done with my site visit next week.  Til then, go siame,

-Jen

The Climax of Suspense!

18/8/2011

Tomorrow is the big day: Permanent site announcements!!  They are not until the afternoon though, so PC has plenty of time to torture us with waiting.  And other PCVs say they do indeed tease us before giving us our sites.  So mean!  And I’m sure tomorrow will drag.

Luckily this week has gone pretty fast.  Between getting stalked by a goat, being offered porcupine meat, and cramming Setswana knowledge into my head, I haven’t had much time to breathe…or write.  But you can check out some interesting stories in my TISA section (This is South Africa).  It’s just little stories about my life here and what happens on a daily basis.  It’ll show you what a day in rural SA is like, and probably give you a laugh since it stars me-an ignorant American.  J

I am super excited for 2:30pm tomorrow, when theorectically we get our sites.  I can see them delaying it for a bit though-tricky training peoples.

It finally rained this week, for the first time since I came to SA.  Let me tell you, rain and a tin roof makes for some NOISE!  Luckily it was just during the afternoon and evening, at not while I was trying to sleep.

Oh, the news is on.  I shall go watch.  I wonder what language it will be in today!

-Jen

Patience

If you ever consider being a PCV, or even just applying to PC, make sure you’re a patient person!  Of course we all expect to wait during the long application, continually checking our emails for an update from PC.  And even after we get invited, we wait for updates, staging info, and of course, our day of departure.  But guess what, once you get to your country, you still must wait.  You must wait for an endless amount of vaccinations, tea breaks, your one free day a week, walkaround allowance, field trips…and of course, site announcements!  We get our site announcements in six days and I am just about out of patience!  I think all of us are.  Pretty much the single biggest announcement for PC, and I just want to KNOW!

So, next time I get internet I shall know where I’m going.  I won’t publish the town/village name due to security, but I will know what type of school I’ll be teaching in, which province, and potentially what type of work I may actually be doing.  Though I won’t really know that til I’m settled in at site a few months down the road. 🙂

Right after site announcements we head off for a week-to have a supervisor’s workshop with our school(s) principal(s) and then for a four day site visit.  So the next few weeks are super exciting, but will likely go really fast.  Then it’s the end of PST-crazy!!  Time flies when you’re at PST.  I’m not sure when I’ll get online again, but hopefully next weekend before I leave for the workshop and the site visit.  Just know that I’m happy and well and can’t wait to find out where I will live for the next two years!!   And if you really like me, check out the”mailing info” tab for suggestions for packages.  🙂

-Jen