Aug 20, 2009

Past Update

I've been here almost a month, which is nuts. It seems to be simultaneously forever and only a day since I arrived. Nothing has changed much as far as training, though the quality of presentations has improved a bit. A week from Saturday we go to visit our permanent site which will be somewhere in Northern Cape or Northwest province.I taught a couple of sample grade 12 classes over the last couple weeks in maths and physical science, which went surprisingly well. Students (or learners, they call em) are so polite here! Thus far anyway.

Last weekend we went to Johannesberg (or Joberg), which is the largest city in South Africa (about 10 million--bigger than New York!). We visited the apartheid museum, which was a wrenching experience, and went to a mall, which was about the same. It's a shock going from bucket baths to good ol' American-style nihilistic capitalism. I ate a sandwich with avocados, which made me feel better. Joberg has kind of a war-zone feel to it--all the residences and businesses are heavily fortified with concertina wire, 27 kV electric fences, burglar bars, and uzi-wielding security officers. About half paranioa and half crime, I'd say.

Things are still going well with my host family. The kids are getting more comfortable (read: more irritating), so I'm brushing up on how to say "stop that!" in Setswana. The language is tough, but not as bad as Zulu or Xhosa because you don't have to click as much. I'm proud to have carried out a bread transaction at the shop the other day entirely in Setswana (though most people, especially youth, speak English fairly well).

One thing I'm learning is to not trust the Peace Corps schedule very much. Things have been all over the place as far as time, and this isthe first time I've gotten to use the internet since my last message.The Telkom workers seem to be still on strike, so I went ahead and bought a cell phone, but I haven't figured out how to make it workyet. It's free to recieve calls here though, so if you want to give me a call you might head to and see if you can get one cheap for South Africa. I'm still very short of cash here--they're giving us R100 per week, which is about $14. Once we move to our site I'll have a lot more money and time, and I'll most likely have internet through a cell phone as well.

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