Sunday, September 9, 2012

Site Arrival!

They told us it was lucky we brought rain and, oh boy, did we ever bring rain! As Pooh sang: "The rain, rain, rain came down, down, down…in rushing, rising riv'lets!" It rained for three days straight. Torrentially, with spectacular lightning and deep rolling thunder. I don't think our host family was expecting rain -- in fact, on day three we were told it was "unprecedented" -- and they hadn't yet fixed our leaking rondovel roof. Needless to say, we spent the first few days soaked. We couldn't manage to find four or five square feet of dry space in our bedroom rondovel and we slept quite wet! Finally, on the third day, our hosts put a giant tarp over the roof. The sun came out. We feel OK now, but we were quite depressed and demoralized the first couple of days, being damp and cold all the time stinks! Now that we're dry, we feel much better. In fact, we really like our little rondovels. One rondovel acts as our bedroom, and has a bathing room with a tub. It's fantastic to have a bathing room and a tub, however, water is very scarce here and we've only had running water one and a half of the days we've been here. Fortunately, our family has a large Jo Jo for storing water. 

Bathing Room
Our second rondovel houses our kitchen and workspace. Our hosts laid a concrete patio between them so we can cross between them easily. We can also sit outside and admire either our drying laundry or the mango trees in the yard, depending on which day we're out there.

Bedroom Rondovel
Kitchen Rondovel
Rondovels with patio
Our family's name is Mhlabane, and the patriarch is a retired school principal and a bishop in the (I think) African Zionist church. He is a very kind man and I hope we can get to know him better. We met our principal that first night, who came by our house after a long day of meetings, and she re-christened me Nomsa, which means "kind hearted." Perry retained his African name Njabulo, which the Matshika's gave him. Our second day, the principal took us to Naas to buy some of the large items we needed. We acquired a stove, a refrigerator, and some cabinets for our kitchen rondovel.  

"Thinking Nook" in our kitchen.
Ceiling (I took this by accident, then thought it was cool ;))
We've spent the last couple of days settling in, doing laundry, exploring our village, getting to know our shopkeeper (who has offered to start stocking foods we'll want to buy regularly in the village -- nice!) and birdwatching a bit by the temporary stream down the road. In the next day or two the stream'll be gone, but will hopefully return later this year. Tomorrow, we'll spend our first full day at NJ Mahlangu Secondary School, where (ideally) I will assist with science and perhaps find a way to build computer lab, and Njabulo will assist with English and building the school's library. We're hopeful our principal will take us to Malalane tomorrow to buy fans. Now that the rain has stopped we're expecting temperatures to regularly hover between 90 and 115 degrees -- winter is over, summer is here, it seems….spring is illusory. We'd also like to see where the public taxis will drop us in town and scout out grocery stores and guest houses. We'd like to spend the one weekend a month away we're allotted in a place with a hot shower, soft bed, and wifi. ;) We also need few other large items, like a 10 or 15 litre kettle for heating bath water and some floor mats. 

Kids in front of our host family's house, our rondovels are behind the photographer.
Perry's up next for blogging duty. 

PS We hope to acquire a PO Box in the next few days. This will greatly increase the likelihood of actually receiving our mail. I'm pretty sure some of our readers wrote to us while we were training, but we only ever received one of those letters (Thanks, Ellen!!), about 9 weeks after it was mailed. As always, writing "Airmail" on things increases speed of delivery (sometimes by months!). 

- Elizabeth

1 comment:

  1. Stefanie HargreavesSeptember 9, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    Elizabeth, thank you so much for the update. You've no idea how much the girls, Randall, and I (me?!;)) are enjoying living vicariously through your adventures. Glad that you're settling in, and please let us know if there's anything in particular you'd like for us to send along.