Knysna Week 2
Life has been pretty domestic lately.As you can see from the photos, we are integrating chores into their school work.Again, not sure if that's on the TAKS, but it should be in every child's skill set.School is getting a little easier and we have learned a lot about what doesn't work.It pretty much boils down to how organized mom and dad are each week.We have a heightened respect for teachers and home school parents.
We went to church last Sunday. We were invited by an English man that lives here at Brenton on Sea.He thought we might be interested because the pastor is American.The "Island Church" is a little congregation that meets on the top floor of an office strip center in Knysna.Not sure if they are affiliated with a particular denomination, but they are very charismatic and "spirit filled".We were of course about 15 minutes late, but it worked out well since I think they had about 30 minutes of singing.They would repeat the chorus over and over.Just when you thought they were winding down, you would hear some spirit filled lady in the 4 person singing group on stage start back up again.They also stand up during all of the singing and I just kept trying to sit down and realized no one else was.Isn't that what church is for, to get all comfy and relaxed so you can start dozing off?
After the singing, the children leave for Sunday School.I asked Emma and Sam if they wanted to go, Emma said yes at first and Sam just looked at me like "are you crazy lady?"I started walking with Emma to the back of the church and she approached the scene with much trepidation. There were a couple of ladies trying to help usher Emma off and it just wasn't going to happen, she was glued to my leg. I tried to keep up appearances, smiling at the ladies and explaining to them in silent gestures that I couldn't imagine what was wrong with this child and shrugging apologetically. Since we were in the middle of the church service, we walked quietly back to our seats. It was actually okay, the kids did fine in "big" church and we all needed a little churchin' after 24/7 togetherness.
We talked to some very friendly folks afterwards and the church served tea and coffee.The coffee here is usually instant unless you are at a restaurant and order filter coffee.Yuck!I know I'm just not used to it, but Brent and I really don't like instant coffee.They also serve Roiboos tea here. It is a decaffeinated tea that people here actually don't seem to like that much.I think it's mainly for kids to drink.There are some folks from their church that are doing work rebuilding some of the communities here.They were not there that day, but we are supposed to meet them next Sunday.The pastor is from California and married a South African woman.He has done a lot of mission work in Africa and was very nice.He took our phone number and said he would give us a call.Haven't heard from him yet.
We see whales on a regular basis here.The most common, and from what I can tell, the ones we have been seeing, are the Southern Right whales that mate and calve close to shore from August-October.There have been sightings reported of Orcas and false killer whales, we haven't seen any of those. We love standing on the balcony with the binoculars watching them frolic.We have heard a few sounds, but don't know if we are hearing mating or calving sounds, which when you think about it, sound fairly similar in the human world.It does seem that at sunset we get our best show.Whales are so romantic!We unfortunately don't have any good pictures because we only see a dorsal fin here and a tail fin there and maybe their large dark bodies under the water's surface, but we just can't seem to capture a good photo.We'll keep trying.
Township Tour in Plettenberg Bay
We took the kids on a field trip to a township.Townships are essentially "shanty towns".They are communities with stores where regular food and goods are purchased and crafts are made and sold by the townspeople.They have a mayor and a meeting room for town committees.There are about 7000 people occupying an 8 hectare space (about 20 acres).The houses are very crammed together and are made up of various materials; fiberglass, aluminum siding, wood planks, and a stucco type material, which in the words of our guide, "made of mud and cow s***".They are crudely constructed and one small home houses about 10-12 people.There are five water taps serving 7000 people, which is an improvement from about three years ago when they had one. The people in this town are of the Xhosa tribe and speak the language of the same name. From what I understand the language is similar to Zulu.
There is a little preschool there supported by the company Ocean Blue. Ocean Blue is an outfit that provides dolphin/whale watching and township tours.There is no government support for the preschool at this township.The parents pay 20 rand/month for the children to attend (about $2.50) and if parents can't pay for this, they can still send their kids there.They have a curriculum and are served three meals a day.I tried to get the kids enrolled, but they were full.
There is a "bed and breakfast" on the property that was bought and is run by a couple in the township.They only have about 6 people that come a year.There are three or four sleeping rooms, a flush toilet and meals.A flush toilet is a luxury as the citizens there use outhouses/latrines.One outhouse serves 5-8 families and when they are full, they find another spot and assemble a new building and dig a new hole.It seemed interesting to me that the bed and breakfast, with nice sleeping rooms and a toilet, is seldom used, when 7000 people live in such primitive conditions.When I asked her if people sneak in to use the flush toilet, she laughed as if "why would they do that?"
They have trash pick up once a week, but there was an area off one of the main "roads" that was full of "rubbish".We asked her about it and she said that the trash had been in plastic bags and the dogs and pigs got into them.I, of course, was ready to organize a clean up committee, but kept my mouth shut.
She mentioned that her husband and sister had died (not of AIDS). We asked if the mortality rate was high and she said it was high, mainly due to AIDS.She explained a most ludicrous logic amongst some of the people that were reluctant to wear the free condoms provided by the government.She said they are stubborn and have a belief that condoms are responsible for AIDS because they didn't used to have condoms and they didn't used to have AIDS, so by that rational, condoms are the mode of transfer of AIDS.Very interesting.
I asked Emma as we were walking around if she would mind living here.She said no, she wouldn't mind.I asked her how she felt about not having plumbing and a T.V. and the likes and her response was "but I would have so many friends here".I almost cried.Kids don't see what we see and it's a wonderful thing sometimes.
Our guide, who by the way lives there, said the government couldn't afford the land for the township, so it was bought by the Belgium government, however, the South African gov. told them last year they would be building brick houses this year.Nothing has happened so far.She said the people are happy and you can definitely feel the community dynamic there.We left with mixed feelings about what makes people "happy" or content and realized that education is important to many of them even if some are reluctant to embrace a certain rational where the AIDS epidemic is concerned.