Wednesday 5 August 2009
If I have learnt anything from today, it is to never assume the word ‘test’ or ‘exam’ carries a universal definition!

Nina and I had to supervise the grade 10 geography exam today. Lets just say, it was…different!

Firstly, the students arrived late. When they did eventually arrive, they were in no hurry to start their test, despite the fact that it was their time they were wasting, not mine!

For the entire duration of the test, there was not one split second of absolute silence. All of the students seemed to think it was all right to talk; to help each other with the answers, to sing, whistle and to even ‘lend’ one another their answer sheet to copy!

All of the learners thought it was hilarious that I was demanding absolute silence! And, when it came to me moving people away from those who they were still talking to, despite being warned, I was somehow being unfair!

I was also flabbergasted by the ‘crazy’ attitudes of the majority of the students; I had way too many come up to me with 5 or 10 minutes left of the lesson, asking if they could go to the toilet, despite the fact that they were nowhere near finished with their test!

Looking back on the situation, it was also quite funny when, with 15 minutes of the exam to go, I suggested that they look over and re-check their work before handing it in. I had to repeat this a couple of times before they understood what I meant! Re-checking work? Who would have thought!

Thursday 6 August 2009
…Being in South Africa is just like being in a musical! Out of nowhere, the grade 11 boys started singing together in class this morning, with beautiful harmonies and deep base undertones filling the school classroom! It was absolutely amazing! And there was no way I was going to tell them to be quiet…

After recess, the grade 10 geography class completed their exam – it was soooo exhausting; I don’t think I even paused for breath:
“stop talking”
“Look at your own work”
“Don’t cheat!”
“No sharing textbooks!”
“What are you doing out of your seat?”
“Sit down”
“Stop whistling”
“Stop singing”
“Face the front”
“Don’t throw things across the room”
“I’m not going to ask you again…”
“Would you like to be moved?”
“Be quiet”
…and the list goes on!

After this, I had another class – the dreaded grade twelves for geography.

And then…with 15 minutes of the lesson to go, all of the boys, minus three, decided to run out of the classroom. They said they were hungry…they did not come back.

I told a teacher later that day, who put them all on the detention list. She later informed me that when the boys heard about this, they went and stole the detention sheet which had all of their names on it! Argh!

Another thing that is hard to deal with is when you are telling someone off and they then compliment you whilst you are trying to discipline them! Take today for instance:
Me: “Stahn, you need to sit down and start your work please.”
Stahn (grade 12 student): “Miss, you have really nice eyes.”
…How on earth are you meant to respond to that…seriously!

At 4:50, after a long and stressful day, Nina and I were finally on our way to Kosi Bay. We had finally started our Durban long weekend!

Friday 7 August 2009
3:45 – rise and shine! This morning we woke up and walked down to the Kosi Bay bus stop…
We were some of the first people on the bus so we were thankfully able to spread ourselves out and ‘sleep!’ I say ‘sleep’ in inverted commas as every time I finally got to sleep, I was either woken by the swerving of the bus or from being winded by the potholes the driver didn’t miss!

Eliza eventually woke me up. The bus was now completely full, which meant I had to sit up, cram my bags underneath my feet and spend the rest of the trip crammed between smelly, stinky passengers. What made it even worse was that no one wanted to open any windows! Combine that with us sitting right at the back of the bus with only one stop the WHOLE 8 ½ hours and you can begin to imagine the type of trip we had!

The one stop we did have was at a petrol station. So many of the passengers took this as their chance to get out of the cramped bus and pee! After receiving my couple pieces of toilet paper from the ‘toilet lady,’ I became involved in what I like to call the ‘peeing rat race!’ Everyone pushed and shoved; I had one lady’s big African boobs shoved right into my back – I think she must have thought this would get her to a toilet quicker! It didn’t, so she rudely jumped the que and ran into the next available cubicle! All the females were really impatient – when I went to the toilet, I had only just unlocked the door to exit when a lady barged right passed me into the cubicle I was still coming out of!

Once we arrived, we caught a taxi to Tekweni Backpackers where we had booked to stay for the weekend. First things first – a shower! Yes; the thing where you stand under a dish like object and turn a few knobs, before…wholah! Water…warm water! It felt like we were in a one hundred star hotel!

After we had indulged in this we spent the afternoon at the other beautiful thing called a shopping centre. We hadn’t eaten all day due to the whole bus dilemma, so it was incredibly exciting when we found a nice café; it was almost too hard to resist not jumping over the counter to give the staff a big hug!

Saturday 8 August 2009
Today was the day of all days! The challenges of all challenges! The best of the best! Today, we were going skydiving!

When we arrived, we had to fill out indemnity forms which made what we were about to do even scarier! The sign on the office door read: “Skydiving is a high risk activity which may cause or result in serious injury or death”…gulp!

It seemed like forever, but finally, Eliza, Nina and I were suited up and in the plane! The plane was absolutely tiny! It had no door and could only fit three pairs of skydivers in it! I volunteered to go first, so I had the honour of sitting closet to the plane door (or should I say open hole…there was no door!) Surprisingly, I felt all right! I had the best view of the amazing South African scenery! I even saw a group of hippos in the water at a nearby game reserve!

When it was time to jump, I had to dangle myself out of the plane and then lean forward before…whoosh – free fall! OMG! It was sooooooooooooooo amazing!

When I first jumped out, I remember doing a somersault or two before enjoying the amazing feeling of free falling! It only felt like five seconds, but apparently it is between 30 and 35 seconds free fall! When the parachute was pulled (which was the roughest part of the dive), the rest of the descent down (all 9,000 feet!) was so peaceful and created such a feeling of freedom!

Sunday 9 August 2009
We awoke and headed down to one of Durban’s biggest shopping centres; Gateway City. It was here that we had breakfast …

For the rest of the morning, we shopped!

…We then took a taxi to some markets down at the beach.

Monday 10 August 2009
After a fantastic weekend, it was now time to head back to rural Ingwavuma! After indulging in our last restaurant meal we returned to Tekweni’s and began pondering how on earth we were going to get home!

We caught a taxi to a taxi rank where we found a mini bus taxi going directly to Manguze (Kosi Bay). We were relieved that we had easily found a means of transport and would not have to resort to the dreaded bus that brought us to Durban!

…That didn’t stop us having to wait 1-2 hours for the taxi to fill up before we actually left! When we finally did leave, the taxi was crammed full of people, with bags upon bags all over the floor – I barely had any room to rest my feet and to make it worse, my feet had to rest on an elevated part of the floor where the wheel of the bus was located. A mother and her beautiful six-month-old baby were in the taxi with us. I offered to hold the baby for her! She was so cute! The only thing was Jesse, Eliza, Nina and I were left with her for the whole trip – the mother seemed quite glad that she had found some ‘babysitters.’ It is part of the South African culture to look after and care for one another’s children so it was not unusual that the mother felt so comfortable leaving her baby with us!

The entire trip took approximately 5 hours, including one stop at a petrol station where we struggled to climb over all of the bags on the floor to get out and buy some much needed food and breathe in some much needed fresh air! The taxi had become unbelievably hot – the sun was on my side the whole way home!

Eventually we arrived at the Kosi Bay turn off point. Nina and I had to get off here and wait for another taxi to take us to Bambanana and Ingwavuma.

The drive from Bambanana to Ingwavuma was considerably annoying! We just managed to cram into the taxi. Our bags only just fit and every time someone wanted to get out of the taxi, I had to get out, pull all our bags out and then hop back on again! It was tiring! But…eventually we arrived home – safe and sound but extremely tired and ready for bed!

Friday 14 August 2009
I was invited to go on an excursion today with 15 students and one other teacher to the Ndumo Game Reserve…From the moment we stepped on the bus, everyone was so happy and excited…and loud! The music was pumping and everyone sang, laughed and danced the WHOLE way there! It was such an awesome experience to be around a group of students who were so happy and so excited! Even the teachers were getting into the ‘swing’ of things! (Including deliberately jumping up and down in the taxi to make it bounce!)

We were driven around the 10 000 hectare game park. We saw plenty of crocodiles, impalas, buffalos, boars and two rhinos from a distance!

Sunday 16 August 2009
This morning I walked to Tandi’s to meet her for church. Nina and I first met Tandi on the first weekend we were here. She is a teacher at a local school, twenty-five years old and has a gorgeous personality!

We part-walked and part hitched a lift in the back of a ute. The service started at 9:00. It included lots of singing, preaching, praying…singing, preaching, praying, more singing, preaching and praying… (you get the point). Most of the service was in Zulu… A couple of times during the service, it sounded as if they were all possessed; they were all chanting or mumbling their own words to God – some were even crying; it was actually a little scary!

Almost four hours later (most of which we were standing!), the service finally finished. It was now 1:00 and I was absolutely starving! I felt like my blood sugar levels had dropped to the bottom of the universe, so I can’t say I was overjoyed when the priest invited the new members into a small room…for what I had no idea! After what felt like everyone coming up to me to introduce themselves, I was taken into a small room where I received a glass of fruit juice and some biscuits. It was weird – it was meant to be a way of welcoming us to the church, yet everyone just sat in silence (probably enjoying the small bit of sustenance we were getting from the food!).

…It didn’t stop there. Tandi, her friend Nellie and myself then had to walk back home. This took about 45 minutes. It was about 2:30 before I got to devour some lunch! But, this is Africa baby! Unlike home, where we have the luxury of transportation, most people in Ingwavuma (and throughout South Africa) do not.

Thanks to everyone’s wise and encouraging words, I am beginning to understand that I may need to focus on making ‘smaller’ differences to people’s lives instead of trying to take on the whole world. I sent a text to Tandi this evening thanking her for a great weekend and her friendship. She just text me back saying:
“Thank u so much gel. U ar a blesing 2 me.”

Monday 17, 2009
…This morning Nina and I went and helped with grade 1 writing and maths. …As always, the students came up to get their writing checked and to say the sentence to us. This is always like pulling hens teeth out (most of them had no idea what the sentence said!). This morning was of particular frustration for me; one tiny little girl would just not speak…at all! I even got to the point where I was asking her to just repeat each word, word by word back to me…still no sound! Argh! I have to say, I was getting so frustrated – I was ready to scream! I wasn’t going to let her get away with not saying anything (especially after the teacher told me not to bother as ‘this one never speaks’), so I told her to wait beside me while I marked some other students work, before we would try again. After a couple of students read the sentence to me, I suddenly heard this tiny little squeak beside me; she was starting to tell the other students what to say! I couldn’t believe it! The little so-and-so did know what the sentence read! As time progressed and more and more students came up and read to me, she became louder and louder and more confident in reading the sentence out loud! After I praised and encouraged her, she decided to put her writing book on my lap and read it to me – almost no help required on my part! This was such an amazing moment for everyone!

Tuesday 18 August, 2009
…For the two periods after first break I had my grade 8 class. Once again, this was an absolute shemozzle; they had nowhere to lean on as the non-working computers were taking up all of their desk space. I then had to struggle to reach the chalkboard over all of the rubbish and metal scraps from the broken computers that were lying on the floor in front of me. Because there was no desk space I had students writing on the ledge in front of the chalkboard. Essentially, I had to lean over the students to write on the board; this didn’t always work as I couldn’t always reach over them, so we ended up having to keep switching places with one another!

Whilst in my room after school, the three girls who visited me on the weekend came over to show me some photos of their family and home back in Swaziland. We then went over to their house to meet their other family members. The girls are only young and live with a ‘mother’ (who is actually not their mother, but oldest sister). She is 21 and is in grade 10! All six girls share one small room. It is tiny! There is no furniture; all six sleep on two thin mattresses (they actually look like they are just blankets folded over) on a cold concrete floor. And Nina and I thought we had it bad…no way! I went back to my room and now feel like I live in a Queen’s palace!

Wednesday 19 August 2009
…The first class I had to supervise was in a science room. As I had no key, Simon opened the room for me…and, as only you can expect to happen in Africa, out gushed a stream of water! Oh no…the classroom was flooded! It turns out that the students left some of the sinks turned on. This doesn’t normally matter as there is normally no water, but for some random reason, the water had spontaneously come on! Simon didn’t seem too fussed; “oh, this always happens – just get the kids to clean it up.” …And he left.

So…I was now stuck with the job of somehow getting all of the water out of the classroom…. Thankfully, I had 3 or 4 girls who didn’t take this as an opportunity to bludge and helped clean everything up…Thankfully the classroom has a concrete floor so it made the job a lot easier!

For the rest of the day, Rose (science teacher) left us a few very brief instructions on a scrap piece of paper. It said things like: Grade 7 = poster. Grade 8 = poster. Grade 9 = Test. It had no more description than this! We had no idea when these classes were or what room they were even in! To make it worse, the office was missing their copy of her timetable! …In the end, only two of her classes did work the whole day; every other class had no idea what their teacher was talking about by the word ‘poster!’

The Nansindlela Beauty Contest saved me from having to take her afternoon classes! This was put on by the grade twelves to raise money for their end of year dance…

…They took off the ‘Miss Universe’ beauty contest; each girl who competed had a sign attached to their costume to show which country they represented! There was a casual clothes section, ball gown and even swim suit section…Girls were prancing around in bras; their boobs bouncing all over the place for the entire audience to have a perve at – including the male teachers! One of the teachers in particular, Walter, was hooting and cheering; making a complete idiot of himself.

I could NOT BELIEVE that the school would let something like this take place. I could also NOT BELIEVE the male teachers; they were not afraid to have a good stare and publicly let other students around them know what they thought of the ‘girl with the massive you-know-whats.’

Thursday 20 August 2009
I’m so upset – I’ve just come from the grade 1 class where I taught them English and maths. Of course, because I have been a few times, the teacher now just sits there and doesn’t even bother helping me. Argh!

Firstly, the teacher said that for their sentence writing, I could put any sentence I wanted up on the board. What type of teacher does that!? She NEVER plans her classes! They may only be in grade 1, but they are in their foundation years – it is crucial that planning is done by the teacher! But no, not in Africa; here, the teacher just writes whatever comes to mind that morning. So, the sentence is normally something like ‘today is Thursday and it is cold,’ or ‘today is Friday and it is sunny.’ The kids don’t actually know how to read these words, they just guess!

And then there is the issue of not being able to read what day of the week it is. Most of them think Thursday is Tuesday and their teacher has taught them the order of the week as Monday-Sunday instead of Sunday to Saturday.

Oh, the other thing; a few kids would say something/read a word of the sentence; I would either say ‘no,’ ‘nearly’ or ‘pardon’ if I didn’t hear them. On too many occasions, they would then say back to me ‘no,’ ‘nearly’ or ‘pardon,’ thinking that I am telling them how to say the word! (Sigh…)

Then there is maths; they just don’t get it. They get their addition and subtraction signs muddled up and they really have no clue how to do the sum at all; they ALL just copy from the small handful of kids who do understand!

…Of course, the teacher just stood there the whole class and didn’t even help me explain to the kids how to work out the sums. I had such a long line of kids wanting to get each answer checked and it was taking me sooo long to get through them all because each student needed extra help and therefore extra time with me. But why on earth would the teacher help!?

By the end of the grade one lesson, I was really (sorry to say it) pissed off –angry, frustrated, upset. I’m struggling not to cry now! L

Friday 21 August 2009.
Last night I was close to deciding that I would not go to school today. For some reason, since yesterdays grade one class, I have been feeling really weird. It was like it was my breaking point. I feel so fragile at the moment; I am so tired, so exhausted and in some ways, unmotivated. But, as always happens in these types of situations, my conscience got the better of me and I decided I would go.

I also thought it was important as Nina and I were to be teaching the grade 7 computer class for the first time since being here…The grade sevens were, to but it bluntly, REAL LITTLE – actually no, REAL BIG SHITS!!! It was horrible.

…As per usual, everyone turned up late. I was feeling really exhausted and fragile and I didn’t have any energy, so I told them that I would just wait for them to be quite before I began the class. Note to self; reverse psychology and little ‘teacher tricks’ like this DO NOT WORK.

…Nina was the first to take down one of the students to the principal. This one boy was asked by both Nina and I numerous times to sit down and be quite. He simply looked at Nina and said ‘NO!’ We get this all the time, but there was something about the way he said it that flew Nina and I off the handle. He then tried to cover himself by saying “no Miss, I wasn’t talking to you.”
“But you were looking at me straight in the eye”
“Yes, but I have problems with my eyes and I thought I was speaking to my friend.”

By the time Nina got back from taking him to the principle it was my turn to take a boy down to the office. This one decided to climb up the door and wall and onto the roof of a small room within the classroom. He had dirt and filth covered all over him!

When I returned, Nina was still not having any luck settling the class. Then, amongst all the noise and chaos, a boy decided to sit on top of a computer and jump on it; not once, not twice, but multiple times! As you would expect, he snapped it and broke the plastic cover off the back of the computer. He then had the nerve to say that it was already broken, even though Nina and I heard it snap and saw it break with our own eyes! When we told him to come to the office, he bolted out of the classroom and ran away.

Nina had to go back down to the office to give the principal his name. And from then on in, I was left with the class on my own…They were all SO RATTY. I got to the point where I said I was leaving and I was going to get the principal to come up. And that was it…I left and didn’t return. And honestly, I didn’t care less that they were in the room by themselves, they don’t act any differently when I am there! Besides, I didn’t have the energy to keep shouting and trying to get everyone to be quiet and I think if I had stayed any longer, I would have started crying in front of the entire class!

After lunch we didn’t have a class so I took this opportunity to go home and get some alone time. After walking home, I fell on to my bed and I swear, instantly fell asleep…
It was great until my loud housemates came home.

Saturday 22 August, 2009
Today we went to Lala Neck, a secluded beach two hours drive from Ingwavuma. It was reachable only by 4wd and was extremely rough – my back jared itself at one stage and Julia, a medical student from the hospital badly hit her head on the roof…ah well – only in South Africa!

Sunday 23 August, 2009
…Kellie (a white school teacher) picked me up to take me to her church. The church was actually at a school in a small grade four class room. So, here I was, on top of a hill in a small classroom singing praise to God with local Zulu adults and children! As always, the singing was AMAZING! I honestly felt like I was surrounded by a choir, everyone with their own parts; harmonies and various melodic lines filled the room and I am sure the whole valley of Ingwavuma! It was spine tingling! I even got to sing some songs in Zulu!

The church had a special guest preacher. Near the end of the service, he welcomed anyone up to the front who wished for him to pray for them; to pray that God would help the individual feel the holy spirits presence within them. Most of the churchgoers went up, including me. We were then prayed to one by one. Oh my goodness! I cannot even begin to describe to you the feelings and emotions that suddenly swept over the room. Before I knew it, most of us were crying; I don’t know why, but I was swept with this overwhelming feeling; it was indescribable. I think I cried for a variety of reasons; there was a real power emanating within the room – God’s presence was definitely with us.

… One of the men fell to the floor and cried uncontrollably. The other looked as if she had something inside of her; her body was convulsing; moving backwards and forwards before she fell to the ground and cried. This was the moment when I realised that there really is something more powerful than us out there; whether we believe it is God or some other form of spirit, there is something out there.

I can’t even begin to describe this morning’s events, nor will I ever be able to. But, I hope that this blog can bring some sort of comfort to those who feel burdened or in pain for one reason or another. Maybe you are struggling with something in your life that is causing you to question your faith and/or confidence in life. If I can be of any help, I want you all to realise that we are not alone and that each and every one of us is being protected and cared for by a greater power than ourselves. It is important for us then to accept life’s struggles and have faith that we are not facing them alone.

There is nothing that comes our way that we cannot handle, especially when we have faith that there is something greater than us who is watching over and protecting us.

Tuesday 25 August 2009
Oh my goodness, oh my good, oh my goodness! We have running water, we have running water, we have running water! Yes that’s right people – the water is running! I have just been sitting on my bed trying to catch up on some diary entries when I heard a rather unusual sound, one I haven’t heard for some time. At first, I couldn’t quite pin-point what it was, but, somewhere deep inside me, I heard a voice, a rather faint one, but nevertheless, a voice saying ‘its water…running water!’

I jumped off my bed and into the hallway to find Nina filling up the bathtub with hot water! (Ok, the tub isn’t that clean and I probably wouldn’t use it, but who cares – we have water!) But, the other teachers were quick to inform us that this sometimes does happen…and that it disappears as quickly as it comes.

I remember Simon telling me the other night the reason (believed by many people) as to why we do not have water; Ingwavuma is under the Jozini municipality (a town about an hour or so from here). Jozini is lead by the IFP political party. When the recent political elections were held and Ingwavuma voted against the IFP and instead, in favour for the ANC, the IFP decided to switch Ingwavuma’s water off!

Whilst I may have seemed a little excited when I first heard running water, to be honest, I actually couldn’t have cared less. I am so used to not having running water anymore that it now no longer seems like such a big deal. At the end of the day, the only thing we don’t have is the convenience of WARM RUNNING water from a tap. We still have water, we just have to collect it from the tanks and boil it. Big deal.

…it didn’t last for long – almost as soon as it came, the running water has now stopped!

After first break I had my grade 8 computer class. As planned, I gave them an exam paper to complete in relation to the ‘World of Animals.’ …Reflecting on this lesson, I realise just how much things have changed, or should I say I have changed since I first came here. This was an exam, yet there was never a moment of complete silence, or a moment where everyone was sitting down (not that they could due to the lack of seats in the room) or where I truly felt like the test was going to be a true indication of everyone’s individual knowledge of the topic. But, strangely enough, I was more calm and collected about it all than what I have been previously! This is Africa baby and sometimes, you just have to accept and do things the African way, no matter how wrong it may seem coming from a Westerners perspective!

Wednesday 25 August 2009
… As per usual, none of the heads of school knew that certain people were away today and it was only because of us alerting them, that they were made aware.

The afternoon classes somewhat tested my patience, especially since I was feeling really unwell! The grade 9 class were incredibly loud and boisterous. At one stage, I had a boy and a girl running around the classroom, banging into other students whilst they attempted to hit each other with a big plank of solid wood and a stick.

The last class of the day were the grade eights. There are a group of girls in this class who are very friendly and sweet. I couldn’t work out though, why one of them was slowly walking up to me, then stopping, then looking at me, then looking back at her friends…what did she want!? Eventually, she plucked up enough courage to come and ask me if she could play with my hair! Once I said yes, I had a whole heap of girls touching my soft and silky hair (a far cry from their coarse hair!). I felt really unwell and it is always so nice when you have someone to stroke your forehead or play with your hair; I could have fallen asleep!

Today I asked Mama if she would mind cooking for us every now and again. Mama is more than happy to do so! I was also lucky enough to be invited over for dinner! … I ate way too much from excitement, but I enjoyed every mouthful!

Thursday 27 August, 2009
I woke up this morning seriously contemplating not going to school. I felt fluey; cold, achy, chesty cough and surprise surprise, my back was hurting!

One of the teachers got back from Impageni in the early hours of this morning. So, with about five minutes before I was due to leave for school, he comes into my room to say that he was not going to school today as he was too tired. Fair enough, but when I asked him for an indication of what he wanted his classes to do, he said he was too tired to start writing out instructions and to just tell them to do the work that I had given them yesterday. That’s all very well for him, but the students had finished the work (even before yesterday’s lesson!) I told him this, but he didn’t seem to care in the slightest; so, off I went to school, feeling that today was going to be as pointless as yesterday…

…I take that back! I first had a grade 11 class. I had one girl come up to me and ask me to read through and mark her geography homework questions. … I really felt like I had helped her and that she was better equipped with the knowledge and answers she needed!

A boy then came and asked me for help with his geography speech. I spent time going through his work; he had pretty terrible english and never started any of his sentences with a capital letter.

But, once again, I did feel like I achieved something with him; especially when he said “I am so lucky to have found a teacher like you.” This was a real ‘moment’ for me! Up until this morning, I honestly haven’t felt appreciated by any of the students. For me, this was what I needed to re-motivate and re-direct how it is I am going to help Nansindlela.

By mid morning, my back was absolutely killing me! I was in excruciating pain, to the point where I was almost in tears. I have never had pain like this before. Bongi arranged to take me to the hospital…and this is where it gets interesting!

A public South African hospital is a far cry from what we are used to in a Westernised country. For the most part, I didn’t really have much idea of what was going on so I appreciated Bongi being there.

…To start off with, we walked into a small room crammed full with other people wishing to see a doctor. Most were either school-aged children or mothers and their babies. We sat here for a while before my obs were taken. By this stage, my back was really sore and I was beginning to feel even more like I had the flu! It turns out I had a temperature; 38.3 degrees Celsius and my blood pressure was quite high. Well, I might as well see the doctor about this too!

… Bongi was then taken into another crowded room of people by a nurse who told me and Chandler to stay where we were…um, I’m pretty sure I’m the patient here! Chandler eventually took me into Bongi who looked up at us and tried to signal for us to leave the room! She came over to me and said that it was best if I waited outside. It turns out that Bongi was pretending to be me; she said that if I had walked in and they had seen that I was white and that I was trying to jump the que (the nurses allow Bongi to do this with the GAPS as they know how busy she is at school during the day!), that this could have caused a lot of prejudice and tension against me. ..So, here I was, standing outside the room, feeling a little uncomfortable about the whole situation! I must admit, there was one women sitting about 10 metres away from me who was giving me the biggest stares! … There were people crammed in everywhere waiting to see one of the doctors who each sat behind a curtain-like barricade…eventually I got to see one!

Chandler then took me to the physio where I was treated by Deepa, a young girl from Durban who came out here at the beginning of the year after finishing her degree in occupational health. Apparently all medical students in South Africa are expected to do one year of community service after they have finished their degree.

The visit with the doctor, physio and my medication did not cost me a cent! Mosvold is a public hospital but I was still surprised that I did not have to pay for anything!

This evening I am feeling like shit! My head is pounding, I feel like I am sitting in a sauna and my eyes are becoming more and more heavy as the minutes go by! And, to put the cherry on the cake, my back is now as painful as it was before I had the physio treatment!

It didn’t help that I was due for a bath…You have to lift and pour the buckets of water into the tub…I tried to use small buckets to save my back as much as I could; the worst thing, however, was not being able to stand under a constant flow of warm running water. Instead, I was left to freeze in the tub, which was doing wonders for my temperature.

Friday 28 August 2009
I was invited by Bongi to go with her and Mary to Pongola today. It was a two-hour trip that passes through Jozini…

After Mary had done her errands, we went to ‘The Junk Shop.’ It was here that I went crazy and bought a whole heap of art and craft materials for the art and craft extra-curriculum group that I am going to start up! After this we went to the ‘OK’; a grocery store which is soooooo much better than the Ingwavuma SPAR! I almost fell over in shock when I saw they had nice chicken! They even had dried fruit but because I had spent a bit of money on the arts and crafts for the school I didn’t get any (can you believe it – me turning down one of my favourite foods!)

…And then…from Pongola all the way to Ingwavuma, I drove home! …

…I enjoyed driving again, even if Bongi’s clutch was a little stubborn at times… It was incredibly hard to see the direction of the road and where all of the potholes were! The road from Jozini to Ingwavuma was the worst – and yes, there were quite a few holes that I did not miss!…I also enjoyed the experience of driving into a petrol station to get petrol!…There were cars coming in and out from every direction; people were walking everywhere and no one would move for anyone! This was a little stressful, especially when I first entered the station. I had to stop on a hill – I then had to hill start; the only problem was Bongi’s hand break did not work very well! Let’s just say a lot of car reving took place!

Saturday 29 August 2009
…I had to laugh – I was at Mama’s house having a chat this afternoon (and watching how she cooked cabbage and pap), when, on two separate occasions Bongi and another teacher came into the room to compliment me on how clean my washing looked! It seems to be a big deal over here if you’re washing looks clean after you have hand washed it! And they all seem to like to compare each other’s and check out how the new girl on the block is going with hers!

For the rest of the afternoon, I worked on some school posters and marked some grade 8 test papers for the recent animal kingdom test I had given them.

There were a few questions on the test that too many of the students got incorrect. One of them read:

A penguin lives in what type of a habitat?
a.) ocean
b.) polar region
c.) temperate forest

I am NOT joking when I say that a large proportion of the learners put c.) Temperate forest as the answer!

Another boy wrote the following answer to the question: ‘what is a habitat?’

“A habitat is something that you are addicted to.”

The marshmallow cooking with Akhoma (9 year old boy from next door) and Rose that night was interesting…Akhoma’s Aunty Rose had never cooked it before so had no idea what to do…When I told her that we actually needed the flames, she seemed very surprised! And when I told her that you actually have to stick the marshmallow in the flame – wow, this was obviously something very new for her!