Sorry about the title, but I can't think of anything else to call the past three weeks. Much has been the same old same old and bits have been fun or, at least, different from the everyday.
Anyway, I was home for a week before taking off again for Pretoria and then on to training outside Mokopane (in Limpopo, about two-thirds of the way north of Pretoria toward Polokwane). The new volunteers had just returned from their "site-visits", their introduction to their new homes and jobs for the next two years. It is always an emotional time because, no matter how many times one is told to put away any expectations, one always has expectations and they are almost never met. Mine was to be in the middle of the bush, testing myself daily to see how little I could live with/on. I ended up in a flat in a city. Others want what I have and end up in the bush. It's like everything else, one always wants what another has. Anyway, it was the same this time. I was there to debrief the older volunteers, several of whom were quite content and the others who weren't. Adapting is more difficult for some than for others but, I must say, I sometimes wonder why some of the volunteers came here if they wanted/expected it to be like home. It's the differences that I enjoy, that constantly remind me that I not at home. Sometimes the differences become the norm and then I need to wake up and notice what's around me and how interesting it is. This is a different world, though many of the day to day trappings can allow one to forget it. This county is going through a massive change that is disrupting every aspect of life and it is/can be tumultuous. It's also interesting to me just how aware of and involved in the other countries on the continent South Africans are. At home, we are barely aware of Canada; here Zimbabwe is the biggest news story on the air, consuming at least half of each newscast. (There is very little news of Europe or the U.S., unless it involves soccer, rugby, or golf.) OK, so I'm rambling again.
My trips to Pretoria and back by taxi (of course) were pretty wonderful. The trip out, though with a hung-over driver, was glorious. The road was lined with waist-high cosmos, white and purple and pinkish purple, both sides, nearly all the way to Pretoria. It was like the road to heaven and I thought, well if this is it, what a way to go! Truly glorious and I was filled with the beauty of the ride and the countryside. Unfortunately, we have had so much rain this summer that field after field of maize (corn) and sunflowers were dead and rotten. But the flowers!!! They more than made up for the devastation. On the way home, our taxi broke down about 40k from Mafikeng and we spent about an hour in a field watching the sun set! It was spectacular. And, I was able to observe how the taxi drivers look out for each other. The new taxi came and picked up the passengers and we followed the broken down taxi all the way home. It stopped every couple thousand meters and we stopped behind it and our driver got out to see if the other taxi could go on. It really touched me and I was thrilled to see the concern and caring. As one deals with the day to day rudeness of people here, it is easy to forget the spirit of Ubuntu and it was good to see it in action.
Which reminds me, as I ramble on, of an article I read in the Sunday paper written by a South African who had just returned from a week in New York. The article was about the rudeness of Americans and her perception of American's sense of superiority and how wonderful South Africans are. Interesting, interesting perspective.
Back to news. I was only at the training site for a day because I was very allergic to the house where we stayed. It was pretty funny, we couldn't get a key to the door, so we climbed through the windows the entire time we were there. The village was gorgeous, surrounded by mountains...and mines! So much of this country is sustained by mining. Unfortunately, mines create slag heaps, which are not such beautiful man-made mountains of waste. The cost of "progress". I was able to get back to Pretoria early Wednesday morning and get in to see the eye surgeon within two hours. The additional laser surgical procedure has now been done on my eye and I can move on till it's time for the other eye. So I was able to come back home Wednesday rather than Saturday, as I had planned. Since I was on leave through the weekend, I gave myself the time to recoup and re-center. It was great...I have been following Eckhart Tolle's class on-line on his book "The New Earth" and I was able to reread the book and view the classes again. In addition, I finally got fed up with myself and my laziness and started back at yoga, meditation and an exercise regimen. We'll see how long it lasts.
This past week has been spent preparing a Power Point presentation on the Older Persons Act. You may remember (I vaguely do) that my first assignment for Age-in-Action was to attend a week-long workshop on the the Act. About time to pull together my notes and make something of them. The presentation is prepared and now the classes we are presenting have been postponed, again, until May. Next week, I am preparing a presentation on parenting. I want to add a section on talking about sexuality with children/adolescents but have a bit of research to do since it wasn't included in the workshop I attended. How in the world it could not be included in a parenting course with 30% of a population infected with a sexually transmitted disease, I don't know. However, I do understand why it isn't tackled because the grannies just don't talk about sex...to anyone, ever!
I went of Fochville, near Jo-burg, with Dineo this week to help with an economic empowerment program. The three senior clubs there have created a food co-op, a pillow making concern and a micro-loan sort-of credit union. They are very active and a great group of older folk. As I've mentioned before, there are many taxi accidents here and many lives lost every year. One of the grannies was the sole survivor of an accident that took 17 lives. She was originally pronounced dead also, but made it through. Seven years later, she is just coming out of her post-traumatic funk. Great lady and I thoroughly enjoyed talking with her.
Tomorrow, I plan to attend a cultural weekend at the convention center with Wanda and Dot, fellow volunteers. Will let you know how it goes.