Friday, April 30, 2010

Finally! A happy day!

I've posted plenty of pics of South African sunsets.  These are actually of a South African sunrise. Aren't they beautiful?  And another lovely rainbow this morning...  I'm a lucky girl!
One of the things I’ve been mourning since coming to South Africa is the fact that I LOVED my life back home. Loved it, loved it, loved it! I didn’t realize how happy I was living in the States until I arrived here in South Africa. In the States, I would wake two hours early just to have tea and sit by my window, watching the birds and the flowers in my yard. I WOULD WAKE EARLY so I would have time to enjoy myself before leaving for work. Sweet!

I was a very sarcastic and cynical citizen of the United States before coming to South Africa. I’m likely to never utter a sarcastic or cynical comment about my country ever again. MY COUNTRY.

I’ve finally had a happy day here in South Africa. A storm woke me this morning, but I remember thinking, “I wonder if it’s time to get up because I feel like getting up.” It was the first time I could remember wanting to get up since arriving at my site. (Now, for those of you who are going to jump on the depression wagon, I’m not the only one over here operating and feeling this way—others are too! It’s hard living here!) It was just a few minutes before my alarm was to ring, but I was happy that it was dark and I could sit at my IMAX window and watch the early-morning storm.

So, I did. I brewed a pot of tea and snuggled up in my hoodie in front of my IMAX window to watch the wind and lightening. I actually had time for three cups instead of my usual two and had a lovely morning all to myself. It was just like the good ole days.

So, why so happy? Well, I’m not sure.

But, I knew my workday would be light today as there was no school at my primary school: all the students were in town at a music competition. And my college class meets relatively early, at noon, so I knew it would be a short workday.

I did get some really good news this week. Peace Corps has given the “go” to installing burglar bars on the portacamp SO I GET TO MOVE out of the “hostile hostel”! I’m so very excited about this. And the entrance door to my portacamp was repaired well enough so I can go inside and “visit” my new home until it is ready for me to move. I “visited” it last night. I can’t wait! I’m certain to be so happy there!

A little story about the necessary repairs for the portacamp. Well, it’s a mess. For one thing, there are no stairs for entering. The door to the portacamp sits high off the ground and a staircase is necessary to gain entrance. There used to be a staircase to my portacamp, but it has rotted away. Are you getting a good picture?  :-)

The next little problem is that the door lock is jammed. When vendors have come to estimate the cost of repairs, I’ve had to call the lady in charge of building maintenance to send a screwdriver. Long story short: we had to break into the portacamp several times so that the repairmen could enter. We pried the door open with a screwdriver.

Let me repeat, because this is important for the story. I had to ask the building maintenance woman several times to send a screwdriver so we could PRY the door open and enter the portacamp. We basically broke into the portacamp several times.

Now, this lady and another gentleman have been “on board” with this fixer-up project for weeks. Both have known the condition of the portacamp.

So every day for weeks, the gentleman says to me, when he sees me, “So, Ms. Kaye, have you moved into your new home yet?”

I raise my eyebrows and skeptically reply, “Noooooooooooooooo.”

He asks, “Why not?”

I say, “Because there are no stairs for entrance, the door is jammed shut, there is no water pressure, the toilet doesn’t flush, there is a live electrical wire hanging out over the door…”

You get the picture. Every single day we have this conversation. EVERY SINGLE DAY for weeks. And I’m thinking what is this? This guy KNOWS the inhabitable condition of the portacamp, so why are we having this ridiculous, repetitive conversation? ??

It’s the same with the woman in charge of building maintenance. A little background on her: she knows that when I’m approaching her, I need something. So, right off the bat, we developed a relationship of her not being happy to see me. And when we try to discuss whatever problem I might be having, we have a difficult time communicating.

I originally thought this woman didn’t understand English very well. I’ve since learned that she understands English perfectly well when anyone else is around. (So, she uses this little trick of feigning lack of understanding so she doesn’t have to fool with me. And I don’t blame her!)

I think we’ve finally broken our ice, however.

So, this week, she stops me and asks about the broken lock on the entrance door. (The same lock that she sends a screwdriver over so we can break in.) “What exactly is broken?” she asks.

“The whole lock is broken” I reply. She relates that she’s not clear what I mean, so I pantomime: I get very animated and demonstrate how I hold the screwdriver in my hands like so, jam the screwdriver in between the door and the jamb, and pull hard to “pop the door open.”

She was greatly amused at my demonstration and laughed heartily. And I think we’ll be good friends now.

And my door is fixed. I can go visit my portacamp, climb up without the benefit of stairs, go inside, and actually be in a happy place. I’m delightfully happy just having access to my portacamp.

And another thing that has probably added to my happiness is I’ve finally planned a trip!

We’ve had several opportunities for taking trips since December of last year. However, it took me a while to settle in before I could even begin to think about traveling around South Africa for fun.

So I’ve finally settled in and am past-due for some fun.

I was originally going to “lay low” during World Cup, but I’m planning a trip to find my beloved baobabs and have just heard from Peace Corps that my leave is approved! Woo hoo!

I’m a happy, happy girl! I will miss my IMAX windows but will live happily-ever-after living in the land of adults and I will be traveling soon to see the wonderful sights of the baobabs!

I knew I could be happy in Africa! It just took a few months! Well, a little bit longer than a few months!

Soon, Karen


  1. You are very good at pantomime, and I'm sure you endeared yourself to her. I loved the dark picture at the top of this page and set it as my desktop background. It is so good to hear you feeling happy and looking forward to some travel. It will be just what the doctor ordered for you. They are going to put some stairs to the door for you, right?

  2. So you like the sunrise!

    Actually,I can live without the stairs... I'm quite the acrobat as well... But I really, really, really want them to fix the live wire that hangs down over the entrance. ;-)

  3. Sheesh! Sounds like you are really desperate to get out of that dorm.

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