Tuesday, September 15, 2009

South Africa Trip #1

Let's start with the phone call I received Sunday morning...it was Ros (one of the directors here). She was calling to tell me that we would leave at 10:30 and to bring a sheet because then I would not have to wash the one I used from the flat. I quickly found out that Iarrah and Marcia (the two Brazilian missionaries I was going with) had asked Ros to call me. So here started the language barrier.

I showed up at their house on base a little after 10:30...and quickly figured out that I would be riding in the back. Let me explain, we were taking the "ambulance"...or the clinic truck that has red crosses on the sides. It has a covered bed with windows...this was where I climbed in laughing to myself and made the decision that after this what else could happen? I was just going to laugh! Chris (another missionary) must have seen me from church as we headed out...and sent a text that said..."Oh bless you! It's going to be a long trip." All I said was...I'm laughing already and I'll see you Tuesday! One positive of this...I was a little worried about the long ride and the inability to communicate...not a problem when you are in the back of the truck.
Here's my view into the front of the truck...
And out the back...(and yes Hope the trusty backpack went along!)
My first experience crossing over the border was interesting. I was SO confused the whole time. I just kept following Marcia and hoping that I was doing the right thing. You have to get your passport stamped and something filled out for the car...and there were people EVERYWHERE in lines (or the clumps that Mozambicans use as lines). Basically it was CRAZY. Then we got back in the car...crossed the border...and had to park again and go get our passports stamped in South Africa...another line for the car...then we were off. It is SO amazing to me the difference between Moz and South Africa. There are orderly lines and clean buildings in South Africa...and that's just at the border.

I climbed back in the back...and we kept driving. I started to realize that in South Africa they use irrigation...something that does not seem prevalent in Moz despite the DRY hot weather. All the farms have green plants...there are banana and orange trees EVERYWHERE. And they have mountains in South Africa. I'm not going to lie I didn't expect mountains. We finally got to Nelspruit, it's 200km from Maputo...about 124 miles.
The dry dead ground of Moz...
The lush banana trees of SA...
Yes mountains!
Our plan was to stay in the Iris Ministries flat there. We stopped for lunch...seafood was on the menu! It's good I have started eating pretty much anything that is placed in front of me. But, really this meal was good...grilled fish and fries! The only problem was I didn't have any rands (the money used in SA) because we don't use those in Moz. Marcia in her grace paid for my lunch! At lunch is also where I discovered that Marcia speaking "some English"...is kind of like someone in France telling you they speak some English. She understood pretty much everything I said...with a few exceptions...and can definitely form sentences and tell me anything I really needed to know! What I life saver!!!!

After lunch we headed to the flat...unpacked a little...and sat down. Within a few minutes we were all asleep in the living room. Later that night we went out to get a pizza. Nelspruit has pretty much anything we have in America. I went in nicer grocery stores there than at home! Honestly parts of it are more like a big city in America...where you can get ANYTHING you need! So pizza for dinner...then a movie. I read the English subtitles! It was about David Wilkerson a priest who worked with street gangs in NY. If you have never heard of him...check it out! I didn't know anything about it but really enjoyed it.

Monday we had to get up early and drop off the car to get the air conditioner fixed. We were driven over to the mall. The Nelspruit mall is something I have been hearing about since I got here. Now I know why. It is like a mall in a big city! It was amazing to be there and get to see all the home decor and fashions. Everything is so much different in Moz...just 124 miles away.
Marcia and Iarrah at the mall! Game is like our Walmart.
About halfway through the day I started to think about how much advertising and seeing things in stores causes our spending habits. Since I got to Moz other than food, printer paper (which really is for the Baby House), cleaning supplies, and a cell phone chip I haven't bought a thing. I've thought about buying paint to paint my room and the fact that I would love some new curtains (because mine are faded and if you touch them dust comes falling off) and that something to put on my walls would be nice...but honestly I just want something VERY African that I'm sure I can find on the street (that is buy from a street vendor). I know at some point I need a fan (because I have taken the one out of my kitchen...its falling apart and rusted but it works at the moment) and a microwave (the one in my kitchen takes about 5 minutes to melt butter something that should take 1 minute if that). Point being withing a few hours in the mall...I had bought a new skirt (it was $16 but still) and a lamp (again $16). It was just interesting to see my American way of thinking return so quickly...all of the sudden I wanted a cute room with all matching stuff and better dishes and...anything I saw to be honest. I still wanted to find things on sale...but a day earlier I didn't want them at all. Anyway...it was just a rough realization.

Another discovery...our mail is delivered to the mall. That was a little funny to me. For all those wondering, I was not able to get anything you have sent...I know several of you have sent things. I do know there is a mail strike and also there was miscommunication while I was there about what box is actually mine. Ros and Stever (directors) are going back this week...so hopefully when they return all will be sorted out and I will get all the things you have sent! Look for an update on the mail situation soon!

After a day of shopping we got the car back and headed for the flat. For dinner pizza was on the menu again. Iarrah REALLY likes pizza and apparently never gets it in Moz...so that is her SA food of choice! Night time entertainment was another movie in Portuguese that I had to read. (Deanna & Mom...the two people who have always made fun of me for not wanting to read subtitles...who knew I would be so relieved that a movie had subtitles?!)
Today we had breakfast at an American place called Mug & Bean...it's a chain from San Francisco. Then we ran into the HUGE pharmacy where we buy some medication that you cannot get in Moz and then headed home.

As for the return border situation...not nearly as great as the first. I quickly discovered that my visa was only a single entry. So I had to pay for another visa...for now I'm good for another 30 days...and in the mean time I have to figure out what to do next. I was not planning on paying every 30 days for another visa...but haven't figured out my other options yet.
Some of the houses we passed when back in Moz...
Seeing these houses and many others like them made me start to think about the differences between SA and Moz. Obviously wealth is something people strive for in SA. It's important to have the best things...not just to have food on the table. Maybe you can understand it this way...in Nelspruit poverty is present, but its more like our poverty in the States. You see people on the streets begging but its something you can get away from. In Moz...poverty is EVERYWHERE. There is no escaping. I think that's the best way I can describe it to you.

Ok...well I think that completes the adventure of South Africa Trip #1. There were many funny conversations along the way with Iarrah speaking Portuguese to me and Marcia attempting to clean up the mess...but nothing major! One more funny observation...children don't have to wear shoes in SA. It is perfectly ok for them to run around the mall or grocery store bearfooted. Made me laugh a little because it's not like the family's can't afford shoes...that I understand. It must just be cultural. Anyway, all went well, I'm not sure how relaxing...but I'm back safe. I have tomorrow off and am hopeful to get to go to the Bocaria (city garbage dump) in the morning. Then Thursday-Tuesday I'm on in the Baby House...should be interesting!


  1. See? You should have appreciated my cultured movie choices :P I could have even pointed out a good Portuguese movie for you to watch had you been willing at the time. Ask me for it when you get back and, even though it takes place in Brazil, I bet you'll understand a lot of it without subtitles! I also can't help but think about colonialism (yes, always a history nerd) and the overwhelming influence the British have had, and still have, over South Africa. Amazing, isn't it? I'm sure Dr. Burns would be proud of you, and I'm sure you heard all about it in his class!

    Miss you and hope you're feeling better! <3


  2. You are hilarious...yes ma'ma I sure did hear all about it in his class and actually think about that often. Mom asked me why the countries were so different last night and I went off on colonialism and the civil wars here but not there and how much different the rule was. She was like...OH.
    Anyway, love you buddy and yes I am feeling much better!