Monday, November 9, 2009

My trip to Kimberley

So, I went to Kimberley last week for a big Dr.’s visit. I wasn’t sick but needed to have my regular “old lady” check ups. It was a harrowing trip, just as I anticipated. But remember me? I get overwhelmed with regular old American holidays involving visits to numerous family members.

So, in working with the Peace Corps medical office, it was decided that Kimberley would be the best city to travel to for my exams (easier than, Pretoria, in my case). It took 3 public taxis (the kombi buses) and over three hours to get there.

I deliberately made my appointment late in the afternoon as I was unsure of travel time, my ability, or inability, to find Dr.’s office, etc. My appointment was at 4:00 pm; I arrived in Kimberley at 11:00 am. This left me plenty of time to discover the delights of Kimberly. (Am being very sarcastic here.)

I got my hands of a Lonely Planet guide prior to my departure and studiously examined a map of Kimberly. The whole time I thought to myself, “Will I be able to walk to these places?” Yes, I covered all of the city blocks I had hoped to, but for the hostel, I needed to hire a private taxi. (Which is a bit of a riddle: PC wants us to stay at modestly priced accommodations, but in order to get there, we must hire expensive taxis, which basically cost as much, if not more, than the difference it would have cost to stay at the more expensive, but within walking distance, hotel.)

I didn’t get to see the “Big Hole” but was very close to it. (If you’re anywhere in Kimberly, you’re very close to the Big Hole.) Having an environmentalist bent, I usually am not interested in destructive mining processes, but you have to admit… A whole this size dug with ax and pick? And it is full of pretty green water. J

I had hoped to find and see, the following, which I did: the Africana Library, the post office, Town Center, the public library, and the information center. All of these were within walking distance of my Dr.’s appointment.

I thought the Africana library was a public library but it is a historic library, so I stumbled into a tourist attraction. A very nice library volunteer gave me a tour of a very old building with many, many, many very old books in it. Most of the books were crumbling. I’ve never seen so many stacks of old (but bound) newspapers in my life. The whole time I kept thinking how amazing it was that the whole lot of it hadn’t gone up in flames. And was hoping that the mold/dust wouldn’t flare up my hay fever. The library is said to be haunted, as are many buildings in Kimberley are.

Then I found the post office where a helpful postal clerk was finally to be had. Although she didn’t have any international postcard or small letter stamps, she very clearly told me the amount of postage required for each. Yay! Mystery solved. I now know how much postage is required to send South African postcards, should I ever find any.

Then I made my way to the Kimberly Visitor’s Center, and passed, much to my delight, the public library, in which I was much more comfortable. I also found a shopping mall, which I hate, but can always find a bank or ATM inside, which I always need.

Then lastly, I made my way to the Visitor’s Center where I found plenty of nice maps of Kimberly but forgot, much to my consternation, to inquire about postcards. It has become close to impossible to find South African postcards now that I’m at my permanent site. (It seems very few visitor’s visit Vryburg so no one is in the need for anything souvenir-like.)

Happy with my maps, I made my way to the Dr.’s office for my appointment. It was 3:00 pm by now. (I had a nice picnic lunch in the courtyard of the Africana library.)

As soon as I’d signed in, a huge, huge storm brewed up and proceeded to flood the Dr.’s office and knock out power in the whole city. I was asked could I come back tomorrow, to which I said yes.

I called a taxi, who had trouble coming to get me (because of the storm and the resulting flooding of the city) and eventually made it to the hostel.
How much should one tip taxi drivers, btw?

I stayed at a hostel called Gum Tree Lodge. Its history is interesting: the structure originally served as a prison for miners caught stealing diamonds. The accommodations were fine, as hostels go, but nothing cushy like we have had previously (in Washington, at the Supervisor’s Workshop, at Searing-In). It was quiet and had lovely gum trees. And the jade-plant hedges (see photos). And my favorite of all-time: nasturtiums. If there are nasturtiums, I can’t complain too much.

The hostel too, is rumored to be haunted, but I experienced no incident. (Other than some unexplained itching, which may have resulted from my visit to the Africana Library.)

The hostel room did have a TV.

I haven’t owned a TV since 2005 and Deanna and I joke that whenever we go to someone’s house to visit, our eyes are drawn to the TV in a very embarrassing way: it’s as if we’re spellbound. My hostel room did have a TV, so I was glued to three hours of very bad TV until I shut it off.

By this time, it was after six o’clock pm… I wanted dinner and a shower… I’d hoped to grab dinner at the “attached restaurant that serves from early until late!” which was closed. (See photo: Old Diggers Restaurant). After supping on peanut butter and crackers, I realized I forgot a towel, so the shower was out. Grr.

After a good night’s rest (sarcastic here), my taxi arrived at 7:00 am to take me to my rescheduled Dr.’s appointment. When I arrived, the staff noted that since I’m new in town, I brought the storm with me. I originally thought only black South Africans thought this, but apparently the Afrikaaners do to. (I know, I know, you think I’m a terrible racist, but racial class is “owned” here, something I hope to address sometime soon…)

I had the test, which came back fine. When I inquired about the second test (which I very efficiently have done at the same time as the other back in the States), I was told, “Oh, we don’t do that here.”

At this point I’m on the side of a curb in Kimberly, and am advised (by phone) to “find a general practitioner who will conduct the test and have them call me.” To which I replied, “I don’t think so.” (But in a much nicer way.)

I then made my way to the kombie station to wait 4 hours for my 3-hour ride back to my permanent site

The good of it is, when I finally reached my destination, for the very first time, it felt good to “be home.”

No comments:

Post a Comment