Monday, November 19, 2012

Ersatz Thanksgiving

Yesterday, Njabulo and I gave our unconventional thanks – on Sunday instead of Thursday, without turkey, and minus the cranberry sauce shaped like the can and green bean casserole. Instead, we feasted on slow roasted chicken legs with gravy, apple-herb dressing, and steamed green beans. Traditional? Kind of. Delicious? Absolutely! We didn't have dessert, because I forgot to buy a pie tin while we were in our shopping town, but next weekend we'll enjoy a butternut squash pie. Gotta have something to look forward to, right?

On Turkey Day proper, we're meeting fellow volunteers for Ethiopian food in Naas. Perhaps it'll become the new tradition here in Peace Corps SA! We'll definitely be thinking of everyone back home (Maple Leafers, enjoy the interdenominational service for me, it's one of my favorites!) and giving thanks for what we have, which is scads more than what the folks around us here have.

For your viewing pleasure, I present a photo of our pre-roasted legs, liberally rubbed under the skin with sage and thyme butter and nestled on a bed of aromatics, which flavored the gravy. The following photo shows our delicious apple herb bread dressing, made with leftover homemade French bread, onions, celery, apples, thyme, and sage, and the glorious roasted legs after a high heat blast to crisp the skin. Lastly, there's Njabulo ready to dig in, and my plate of food after being drenched with velvety gravy!

Happy Thanksgiving!

When I took the dinner photos off the camera, there were some miscellaneous photos I'll add to this post. The first two are of a lovely little mosque we ran across in our shopping town. There are a lot of Pakistanis and Indians in South Africa, and even out in the very rural areas you'll find mosques in the villages. 

Next is a photo of our school. I hope to do a post about our school soon, but that might not happen until we start teaching in January. Right now, for us at least, nothing much is going on (hence my regular Facebook presence ;)). The learners (we call them students) that are writing (we call it taking) tests come to school, write their test(s), and leave. The grade 12s, who have been living at the school for weeks, study and take their matric exams (needed to graduate, or here, matriculate) and the teachers all focus their efforts on invigilating (we call it proctoring), moderating, and grading tests. No teaching – even though I wrote lessons and attempted to deliver them. I have graded plenty of exams, however, which has been eye opening – we're going to be spending a lot of time remediating English!

Finally, we have the rest of the game drive photos, thanks to our fantastic game drive guide, Elsa! She put them all on a CD for us, we just need to edit them and, since there are many, wait until we have free wifi at in-service training (IST) to upload them. Speaking of IST, we're headed to Nelspruit then Pietermaritzburg in two weeks for thirteen days of training, which means thirteen consecutive days of hot showers, flushing toilets....and a pool!! Then, two days after returning from IST, we're off to Cape Town. We're staying at a guest house run by an Italian monastic order, the Scalabrini Brothers. All profits go to their various social programs. Check them out, super rates and a great cause. Woot! We're excited! 

- Elizabeth 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Kruger National Park

Nomsa naNjabulo savakashela eKruger National Park futsi sabona tilwane kakhulu!!

KNP - Malelane Gate 
Two weekends ago Njabulo and I went on a a day-long game drive in Kruger National Park. We used Echo Africa and our driver was Elsa, who was an excellent guide. What an awesome day! It was raining at 5:15AM when we were picked up from the backpacker's (in fact, we'd had a truly spectacular thunderstorm the night before, storms are awe-inspiring here!), but by the time we were in the park it was just misting and the rain eventually stopped. Drives are taken in nine passenger open-sided safari vehicles, but we only picked up one other passenger, a nice gentleman from Portugal, so we basically had an almost private tour. At first, we didn't see many animals, but later in the morning, we saw a wide variety of animals all over the park, and very close-up, too! I think the only animals we missed seeing were the leopard and the wild dogs – must save something for next time, though!

Lichen covered "balancing" rock. Amazing geology here!
Njabulo took a lot of good photos – but we only have about half of them on our computer right now, because our camera battery died around lunchtime and we used the guide's camera for the rest of the day. She's promised to leave a CD of the photos at the backpacker's we stay at, so hopefully we'll have them next weekend. Njabulo also has some video he's promised to edit – we can upload that when we're at the backpacker's, too. For now, these photos speak for themselves. 

I've posted my favorites, I'll upload the rest to Picasa next weekend!

- Elizabeth

For me the most amazing part of the trip was being 15 meters away from a pair of white rhinos munching contentedly on the grass. Rhinos have a reputation for being belligerent, but these two were quite mellow. Which is good, because rhinos are huge, muscular, and run very fast!
- Perry
White rhino. We have video, too, stay tuned! 
Baboon troop. Saw many baboons.
Gnu and impala. Impala are ubiquitous.
"Zebra" millipede crossing the road. Usually all black - guide stated "zebras" are one in a thousand.
Dozing lion. Could literally have reached out and touched him.
Vervet monkeys and baby. A-dor-able!
Tawny eagle.
Adult and baby warthog. Babies have wide whiskers that emulate tusks.
Southern giraffe. We saw quite a few of them!
Elephant and baby. We should be getting a lot more elephant photos on the CD!
Lunch stop, last photo with our camera!
That's all for now, more soon!