Friday, August 30, 2013

City Slicker

Yesterday afternoon I headed off into the city where I met a friend.  I thought it was a grand occasion, and decided to landmark it with the ultimate in "grand occasion wear" - heels.

Those of you who live in heels, your eyes probably just lit up a little. I'm right, hey? You didn't think you would see the day, did you!?

My heels were awesome walking to the square, and they behaved so well while we sat outside at a little cafe drinking our cupaccino's, eating our lovely pastries and chatting away.  They only started to become a little hot and bothered when I insisted that they had to do some walking. I could swear I heard them whisper to me "These shoes weren't made for walking...."

I sucked it up - I'm a big girl! It was way too much fun being out and about to allow a silly pair of heels to ruin it. We popped in to toy shops to look for puzzles, and a gorgeous hat shop (that I will be going back to) and did plenty of looking in windows.

At around 16h00, as we said our farewells, I popped into the supermarket for a nice bottle of white and a steak for My Man (and other less interesting things) for when he got home this evening. Then began the long walk (its not really long but seemed long), to the bus stop. With horror I noticed I had 40 min to wait for the bus. Looking up, I saw another bus arrive that goes past my home as well, but it didn't stop were I was waiting - so, me, heels, parcels and handbags all flew down the road after the bus looking very unladylike I am sure - I didn't care, I just was NOT waiting 40 minutes!

It was a lovely ride back home - until for an instant I forgot this wasn't my regular bus and pushed the STOP button! HORRORS!  A stop BEFORE my stop. Feeling hugely embarrassed, I felt I had no option BUT to get off the bus since I was the only one getting off there (and people saw me press the blasted thing). SO I tried to look like "Oh yes! This is my stop, yay"... inside I was thinking "Bugger!"

Oh well, me, my heels, parcel and, by this point, my blisters and I were beginning to see the funny side. I would now have to walk probably about a kilometre down and then up the hill to my house.  Of course, the story would not be complete, if there were not loads of workmen doing roadworks alllll the way up my street and it was very difficult not to (a) crawl up the hill (b) cry up the hill, (c) walk like a newborn calf!  So, I smiled and waved and tried to walk normally. I am not sure I succeeded.

So ladies (and gents) who wear heels... you can smile - and keep your heels.

In spite of them - it was a fantastic day and I would do it again - and in heels if I had to!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Long Week

My Man had to go away on business this week.

I have been mentally preparing for this for almost a month since we are seldom apart and have never been apart this long.

I find myself in bed at the sad time of 18h00 today having decided that I don't feel like food and was just going to turn in early.

While browsing I found this and it just sums how I feel today....
Tomorrow is a NEW Day and am heading into the city to have lunch with a friend and do some shopping.
I plan to buy lots of his favourite food.

This has to have been the longest week ever and it's only Wednesday!

* * *

*  I am absolutely perfectly fine, I am not withering away - I am painting the walls ferociously and achieving very little. However, I hear the soccer game is starting, so may haul my lazy butt out of bed for a watch and a little glass of wine.  

(Think I have a packet of sweets stashed somewhere too!)

Monday, August 26, 2013

"Twinkie & the Beast"

Twinkie is the name of our SatNav lady person.....
                             The Beast is the black car lurking in our garage.

The don't prowl the empty streets at night.

The Beast is My Mans company car - it's a beautiful Beast for sure, it's only downfall (for us) is that it has gears. Yip, we are "Proudly Automatic" drivers, which clearly is not working in our favour right now since we were presented with 2 main problems:

(a)  How to get the car home from the city
(b) Most importantly, how to drive the Beast

My Man and a colleague concocted the plan that would solve (a). The colleague has an automatic car. My Man drove the auto behind his colleague who drove the manual car to our home.  This was not only helpful in that My Man didn't have to try and risk life and limb (his and others') trying to drive his car home, but he also got to see HOW to get home by following his colleague.

So, now the Beast is in the garage. Saturday morning we decided we needed to do shopping so we would "risk" (literally) popping into the next little village with the car.  Although we stalled twice in traffic circles that was nothing compared to the amount of navigating we had to DO to GET to the next little village. Between, yields, hills, parking and circles, we were both feeling like a piece of chewed string by the time we got home, and swore that we wouldn't do that again until we (he) felt more confident.  Frankly, I thought My Man was a Super Hero!

I have to give credit to him, he never once made me feel nervous (other than me thinking we were about to drive on the pavement, which had nothing to do with him and everything to do with me), and yet when we got home, I thought it very wise of him to "man-up" and say... "Practice would be good - that was not fun.

We were meant to go and braai with people the next evening, but I just put my pride in my pocket, phoned them and basically told them that there is NO WAY we can drive 40 minutes through the city to come to them. It's got nothing to do with wrong side of road or not knowing the way - but EVERYTHING to do with "how do I drive this car while trying to find my way".  I have to trust that they understand and will not think we are ridiculous children - frankly, if they don't understand....  that's sad.  Enough stress is enough for one weekend.

My Mans company had offered him 5 Lessons to help him get accustomed to the car, the roads and the road signage, so next week Twinkie and Beast will go for Training. 

In the end they will know....My Man IS the boss of them.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Time to "Just Do It" (Anything!)

Today is My Man's third day at work.

So far all reports from him have come back and been so positive. He has enjoyed meeting his new colleagues and has been impressed by where he is working.

We travel in by bus together in the morning, in total it takes about 35 minutes (change to connecting bus in the city) to get to his office.  Then I come back home, try to keep myself occupied until the afternoon, when I take the bus back into the city and we meet at "our connecting" stop and travel home together.

We've actually really enjoyed this. It gives us time together in the morning and in the afternoon we chatter away together about his day and his new experiences without having to concentrate on traffic and driving. I think we may be the only people who talk in the bus! (OH! Such a cool thing I saw with the bus yesterday - there was a guy in a wheelchair, and the bus door opens about a foot off the ground, I was thinking that I would ask if I could help wheel him in, when "My Man" pointed out that the whole bus drops down to the height of the pavement and he just rolled himself in. Maybe that happens everywhere, but I just thought it was super cool and thoughtful!)

Anyway, getting back to morning routine....It's really new for me, because in all of our 25 years of marriage, the most he has seen of me before work is me standing at the window and waving goodbye! I'm not joking. His mom used to get up and make breakfast for them until they left home, and bring them tea in bed. From the outset I said to him "Do not expect that from me" - and he didn't! He is an early bird, he has no problem waking up and getting up in the same instant - I need about an hour to twig that it's morning and about 3 cups of coffee before I can string my first cohesive sentence together - so I think he realised it would be pointless.

However, all of that being said - the days are long with him at work... and quiet. Yesterday I did a whole pile of washing and hung them over my balcony. It was a lovely sunny day so I sat out there and admired my view, (which would have been more spectacular had I not had underwear pegged up in front of me).

Last night I begged him not to do the dishes, he asked why, and I told him I needed something to do today. He just laughed - but he left them.

This morning when I got home from going with him to work, he had made the bed (I usually do do that!), and I sms'd him and (playfully!) gave him "what for" because now I had one less thing to do!

He thinks its all quite comical - but the truth is, I am serious. Who would have thought I would want to come home to do the dishes! 


I have downloaded "Beautiful Outlaw" so have planned to go in to work with "My Man", take my Kindle, and every other morning find myself a little coffee shop with wifi, read my book, have a cup of coffee, come home much later, and deal with the day from then.  

I may even venture to a new town for a walk with one hound at a time... Except, I would rather be on an adventure of discovery with "My Man" than alone - so scrap that idea.

Anyway - typing this Blog took all of 10 minutes! :)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Locals Impressions

I want to start by saying that I am so Proudly South African, and that we must never stop being the friendly, warm, wild and welcoming people that we are. 

I was chatting to a young girl at the bus stop last week, she was raised here, and as we were talking about what she wants to do now, she began telling me how she wanted to go and study in Germany. She said that this country is too quiet, too conservative and too closed minded - she wanted to get out. When she heard where we were from, her jaw dropped and she could not believe that we would leave there, no matter for how long, to come here. She literally was speechless and it is one of her "bucket-list things" to visit our home city. It was strange to hear a local say that they struggle to make conversation with other locals because everyone is so reserved - this in contrast, she says, to Germans who will be welcoming and easily strike up a conversation.

We went into a shop to buy pre-paid sim and a young girl came and tried to promote a product with us in French. We told her that we had just arrived and only spoke English. She was very helpful anyway, and as we were talking, My Man asked about English channels on TV, to which her reply was "if you live here, you learn to speak the language". Of course she is right, and I said to her that we will, but give us a chance! I don't think she understood that part - but the sting was there in her comment.

Interestingly she didn't speak the local language either!

In another chat with a local guy, our age, he also said that this nation is quiet and reserved. He made no apologies for it, and why should he have to, it is their culture. We must be such a rude shock to this neighbourhood, where they are conservative and softly spoken - we are loud and gesture wildly. 

Everything is quiet. I swear even the cars and buses are quiet! 
Maybe God is trying to get me to be quiet?

I can't say I am not enjoying it though - I really am.

Enjoying our wine and the backs of lots of people watching some performance in the Square.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Not big on "Goodbyes"

Had to stick My "Little" Girl on a plane today and send her home.

Her "holiday" time with us here has come to an end. I know that she was ready to go home, she is missing her BF and her friends, and her life. Knowing that she was ready to go home made it easier to say Goodbye. I must confess that I thought I kept it together pretty well at the airport, but when I could no longer see her I couldn't help having a little cry, and another little cry when we saw her bus taxi-ing to the plane, and another little cry when her plane took off...

... and another little cry as I am writing this.

We waited at the airport until she took off and I wouldn't leave until I could no longer see the plane.  After that we promptly found a bus back to the city, did some early morning shopping, and came home. The dogs were happy that we were back. I think the suitcases and strange activity yesterday freaked them out a little.

Now, I just have to keep busy until I know that she has arrived, is safely with her friends at home, and I know there will be lots of noise and hijinx.

I am going to miss her but am so thankful for the time we did have here before she left.  I wish we could have given her more of a "holiday" - so much of her time with us was admin-ish, and we were able to do very little in terms of spoiling her (or us) at the moment, but anyway, it's nice to know that if we talk about places / sights / house etc, she knows exactly what we are talking about now.

Anyway - we are off to find something to keep ourselves occupied with for a few hours.

This has been a tough morning.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

How not to introduce yourself to the neighbourhood...

Last night we had friends over for supper. (I was so chuffed because I managed to find not one, but two bottles of Mrs Balls chutney, which my dinner REALLY needed.)  

The weather was gorgeous and we moved our couch onto the balcony with our two newly acquired "very basic" chairs and there we sat until well after midnight.  If you had ANY idea how quiet this area is, you would understand that even our talking would have reached the periphery of the valley, never mind the laughing and joking. I am sure that the neighbours were not thoroughly impressed with the late-night noise.  (That is if anyone actually lives here?!)

Then this afternoon we headed back from the city after a few hours of walking around, a glass of wine, and watching some of the Summer in the City festivities. Walking up the hill I mentioned that there were now two dogs in a garden that we usually walk past that usually had just one. At which point My Girl pointed out that they were OUR dogs!  

My Man promptly climbed over their fence, and proceeded to pass first Tigger to me, then Jack, and we marched them up the hill toward home. On the up side to that, at least we now KNOW that people do LIVE here. A young man popped out of a house, he was really pleasant and told us that the dogs were actually in the road. It's a miracle that they survived since we live on a very busy main road. How they even got into the garden we found them in, is miraculous. A lady walking down the road said that she had kept an eye on them and given them water. She was really kind and concerned.

I guess that's one way to meet someone.  Not the best introduction to our new neighbourhood - but hey, I think even God was desperate for us to meet someone!

Now, the fence is fixed where they managed to escape from, we have a cup of tea and are half-watching the first soccer match of the season from our balcony.

* * * 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Settling In

We have been here 8 days. It feels longer because of everything we have achieved in that time. We have not had time to act like a tourist other than a very brief 3-hours on Day 2.

So far we have:

  • Registered in our village as residents
  • Received our temporary papers (which means I can work now too)
  • Moved into our home
  • Put up a fence
  • Found the correct bus routes from home to the city
  • Opened a bank account
  • Applied for internet at home
  • Got a Cell phone no.
  • Have a Mobile Wifi for home (until internet is installed)
  • Welcomed our dogs (last night)

The language thing is still fun. Some days I understand a bit of what is being said, and others ... not so much and we have great fun playing charades!

Shopping is another adventure.  For all I know I am washing my hair with dog shampoo...  (Don't say what you are thinking!!!)    There are vegetables I have never seen before.

We were laughing about this last night, saying it was like being newly married. We have to build up our food cupboard - things like spices, tomato sauce, mayo etc, you kind of take for granted that you will always have them... try suddenly cooking something that you have bought all the ingredients for, to suddenly realise that you don't have SALT!  Yip, we lived with no salt for about 5 days.

Until we get the car, we have to take a bus to the nearest shop.... you can't just walk there. Even though its not far, about 1km, its through a part of a narrow winding forest road with no pavements - so its impossible to walk there.  The result is that if you forget to buy something, you go without until your next trip, you can't just pop back to the shop.

We have also met stinging nettles. Well, My Girl met them first, and a day or two later, while busy with the fence, My Man had an epic encounter. Apparently not much fun at all - so I have decided to avoid them at all costs. 

Our furniture has not even started the journey here yet - disappointing, but there is nothing we can do about that. We have bought 2 beds, a couch and a cupboard and that is pretty much what we have in this rambling house at the moment.  It echoes like crazy and all of our voices seem to be magnified hugely!  

The agent that I was corresponding with, and his wife and son, have been amazing and helped us with so many things and I think, (I hope) are becoming friends. They popped over on our 2nd night in the house, bringing with them meat, a braai, champagne, cutlery, plates, and great senses of humour, and we sat on the balcony, braaiing and chatting till almost midnight.  He is a local and she is from Cpt - it was such a lovely evening and good to be able to have company so soon in the move.

The next step is to paint. The house is not in great nick inside with lots of holes in the walls and grubby patches everywhere.  So I figure that the best thing to do while waiting for furniture is to paint the most used areas and get it ready for when our stuff does come.  So that is on my agenda for when My Girl goes home.

There is SO much going on, I wish I had blogged more beforehand, because I feel as though I am leaving tons of stuff out.... but so far, it's been pretty amazing and I am so thankful for the opportunity for us to live this adventure!