a blog about the cultural experiences my husband and I have because of our work abroad...what's delightful and beautiful about different countries and cultures...what we have learned from living and working in countries other than our home country...and how those experiences have changed us

Sunday, November 1, 2009

First days in Africa

We are here: in South Africa! Having only been in this country (halfway around the world from our former home) a few days, what we mostly feel is jetlag. But thankfully our travel from the states was smooth and without incident: no lost luggage (all nine pieces of it), no flight delays, no misunderstandings at customs. Quite remarkable actually; I’ve heard far worse from those traveling just state to state! My sister Audra and her husband Joe, who kindly let us live with them for the week between moving out of our apartment and flying to our new home in South Africa, dropped us off at the Portland airport at 4:30am. From Portland we flew to Atlanta, Georgia where we boarded our 15 hour direct flight to Johannesburg, South Africa. When Stephen and I have flown to Africa in the past, we first flew to Amsterdam or London or Paris and then down to Tanzania or South Africa. So I wasn’t sure how such a long flight would be. But to my relief and surprise, it was the most pleasant international flight I’ve even taken. The four movies helped the time go by faster too. 

Once in Johannesburg we bought new South African cell phones in the airport and then picked up our rental car. Loaded full with luggage, we drove the rented SUV to a nearby hotel and checked in. Then bright and early Thursday morning (we lost half a day) we drove to Tugela Ferry. South Africa’s freeways are quite nice with “Engen” stops (a combination of “petrol”, “Wimpy Burgers”, convenience store, and restrooms) at . South African maps and signage are not as clear as I would have liked, though, and we took several wrong turns, eating up daylight hours. By 6:30 we were driving in the dark, the dense fog turned dusk into dark night a little earlier than normal. Tugela Ferry is at the bottom of a fairly steep mountain, but knowing we were behind schedule, Stephen careened down the narrow road that was sporadically lined with guard rail. Only after we had arrived at the Tugela Ferry bridge and reread the directions did we notice “take this road slowly looking out for cattle, goats and donkeys”!

We’ve been told that Tugela Ferry is hot and dry, but our first night here we walked through mud to get to our mobile home and needed more blankets on our bed. It was a nice welcome to the country. 

Friday morning was another day of travel. The drive to Pietermaritzburg was stunning. Wide expansive rolling hills, farmland and timber land. And Jacaranda trees, with their brilliant purple blooms, line the road. In Pietermaritzburg we returned the rental car and met the owner of the car we bought (while still in Seattle). As luck would have it this American friend of ours and his wife are taking a furlough back in the states so we were able to purchase their car. We drove him back to his town, dropped him off and headed to a coastal guest house for the evening. A mini-vacation already! We had a beautiful view of the Indian Ocean and spouting whales from our room. A walk along the beach was the beginning of our day the following morning. South Africa is a paradise!

This morning we are back in our new home in Tugela Ferry, our 400sqft mobile home! Despite how small that sounds, we really are quite comfortable. We have everything we need, if just in miniature. A bonus we didn’t expect was that we have three air-conditioners and two ceiling fans. In this small area, it will be quite easy to stay cool. Halleluiah! Everything is brand new. But even so, we had no hot water the first night and I had to don my “pioneer woman” spirit and boil water for a sort of substitute bath in place of a shower.  And just to make sure we knew we were in Africa, there was a calf bawling just outside our fence and goats wandering about. Driving out of Tugela Ferry that first morning, we saw all the cattle and goats we were warned about in the driving directions!

Stephen’s first day at work is Monday. My job for the next little bit will be to set up our house and plan the yard into vegetable and flower gardens. Not a bad life!

1 comment:

  1. Glad you made it safe! God be with you in your new adventure. :)