Today was the last day of my school week and also the 3rd day in a row their main teacher just didn’t show up. Overall the day wasn’t too different than that of the other but something unfortunate happened today. I came back into the classroom after break and Mawande was at his desk with his head down. There’s a metal gate outside the classroom door to serve as extra protection and kid are always swinging on it. I guess while he was playing by it another kid bumped him and it hit him in the face. I’m sure it hurt a lot and he ended up chipping his front tooth. If something like this were to happen back home you’d be upset but you’d also know that it could be taken care of. The biggest problem being the inconvenience until it got fixed. Over here things are a bit different… you chip your adult tooth and you got the rest of your life with a chipped front tooth. Doesn’t that suck?!
Thursday night Patrick and I went into town to meet up with a few volunteers. One of the volunteers came for 9 months and has been here for two years now! I could totally see myself doing that. She works in Kayamandi but no longer lives in the township. She lives in a nice apartment in Stellenbosch which we got to go to before heading out for dinner. The group of us was really interesting because no one had known any two of us for more than a couple days. All in all there was a person from Texas, Kentucky, Pennsylvania (me), Germany, The Netherlands, and two from South Africa. We went to a restaurant called Asia, which was mnandi lento (delicious). We spent the entire night drinking wine and taking about everything. I mean everything! The conversation started out with discussions of perverts on the trains and went all the way to politics and religion… connection? After dinner we were lucky enough to have a ride back to Kayamandi. Since my first few days here we’ve found some people that are willing to pick us up and drive us home during after hours for a small pay, totally worth it!
I woke up Friday morning and made my way to the train. Two people on a train to Cape Town is a lot safer and we made it in with almost no problems. At one point someone needed change for an R5 so they could buy candy. Me being the nice guy I am delivered. A few minutes later the same salesman came back to me looking for change for an R20 note. I again had no problem giving it to him but I didn’t actually have it available. Patrick did though! And together we helped out. Later that night in Cape Town we found out the R20 was fake haha. Luckily for Patrick he was able to use it later that night anyways at one of the bars. Friday was Ndidi’s last day in South Africa so we wanted to do whatever she wanted. We went out for lunch and dinner and again later that night and I think we all had a really good time, despite some really flipping annoying Russians. Let’s just say, the few Russians that are staying with us have not represented their country well… I spent part of the afternoon talking to customs about my packages that apparently arrived a while ago but they never informed be about. Also booked, canceled, and rebooked a flight from Victoria Falls back to Cape Town. Parts of the day were stressful but mostly nice.
Saturday was a different story, I had a very stressful morning. Ndidi was leaving and I wanted to say goodbye to her before she left, so my day started around 7:30am. Actually, it was kind of funny because when I got on Facebook in the morning there were several friends back home that were just coming in from a long night of Halloween fun. My plan for today was to go to the post office, catch the 10:45 train back to Kayamandi, so I could make it back in time to take my kids swimming. If only things were that easy. So I made it to the post office around 9:45, earlier then I had originally planned. There was a decent line to talk to someone so I was relieved I had arrived early. I had my confirmation numbers so the visit shouldn’t have been too long but when I got up to the desk she made me wait about 20 minutes while she went looking for my packages. When she finally came back she only had one! The second had arrived but was still with customs. Anyway, turns out the package she had got for me had been in Cape Town since Oct. 5 and I now owed them extra money for holding onto it. R200 was what I now owed! How ridiculous is that, and it was 100% SASTS fault for never informing me that my package had arrived. To make matters worse I didn’t have R200 on me and they didn’t accept cards. So I had to travel to the other part of the mall to use the ATM so I could width draw money to pay off this penalty fee I shouldn’t have had to pay. When I finally made it back to the post office I wasn’t about to wait in the line again so I rent right back up to the counter I had been at. I got a lot of rude looks but luckily I couldn’t understand what they were saying. Once the transaction was finally over I looked at the time and it was 10:40. I moved as fast as I could to the train station and bought my ticket but the train had already left! The next train to Stellenbosch wasn’t until 11:41 so I had about an hour to kill. Being alone, and white at the Cape Town train station makes you the biggest target for beggars. So as soon as I stepped out of the station (since I had a ton of time I wanted to get lunch) I toothless man in is 30’s came right up to me. Same stories every time about needing money to buy bread and milk for his family and how he’ll take anything and blah blah. I saw a McDonalds in sight and headed in. Once inside the beggars know to stay outside. Only problem was it wasn’t a McDonalds. The McDonalds was still under construction and the building I was in was some pastry shop I didn’t want anything to do with. When I looked outside I saw the beggar going after a different pedestrian so I made my escape. I was heading across the train station quad which was a huge open area to where I saw a KFC on the other side. A quarter of the way there I here footsteps and realize this guy is running to catch back up with me. Relentless! At no point did I feel threatened but I was starting to get annoyed. Since I had a long walk ahead of me with this guy I decided to talk to him about getting a job instead of spending all his time begging for change. What bothered me even more was that he was smoking a cigarette. Someone that is on the streets begging for money shouldn’t be spending their money on smoking… Once I made it to the KFC he waited right outside the entrance and never took his eyes off me. I looked back every once in a while to check to see if he was there and the last time I looked he thankfully wasn’t. I got my food, turned around and there he was, standing right behind me just waiting for me to get my food. I was a bit fed up at this point and told him to back off and that it was time to leave me alone. He told me he would wait for me outside. I still had about 30 minutes before my train was to come and I had planned on spending it in this KFC just eating and relaxing. Just in case anything happened, I spent some time reorganizing my belongings so they were spread out and not all in one place. When it was time to leave he was thankfully no longer outside the door. He was actually absent from my entire walk to the station. I had a couple minutes to kill and needed to use the bathroom. At this point the only thing weighing on my mind was that I had a bunch of luggage and was alone. Using the bathroom in these circumstances means everything has to come with you. Of course as soon as I walk into the bathroom I see that there is only one other person in there and I was the damn beggar from before! We looked at each other and just laughed. I don’t think either of us could believe why we kept running into each other. I headed to the urinal and the guy stood right behind me waiting. Not exactly my style but fortunately for me another white guy walked and became a new temporary target. I say temporary because as soon as I was finished and left the facility he was right on my tail. He followed me to the train but knew better then to get on. I must say I’m proud of myself for never once giving into him! The train ride home was fairly uneventful besides not totally being sure if it was the right train. Once I got to Kayamandi it was raining and ended up not being a good day to use the pool. Kids had come earlier but Mama Zulu had told them I wouldn’t be home till Sunday. Luckily a couple kids came by later that night and we watched a movie. I guess since less kids came by it was kind of nice because I could help them learn to use my computer a little better. I fell asleep right around the time it started getting dark so overall it was a recovery afternoon after a rough morning and a couple days of feeling under the weather.
Sunday brought more rain but lucky for me it wasn’t snow! A few more kids came by but we mostly stayed indoors. Ndidi and Alex bought me a Dragon Ball Z dvd to share with the kids so they were loving it. Patrick got back in the afternoon and we got some pizza from town and watched the movie Red. Another movie I liked a lot! Afterwards I did half of a video chat with Joe Priff but I didn’t have my video cam hooked up. It was basically me watching him talk to himself. I think it was weird for both of us but it was just practice for Monday and Monday went great!