Monday, September 8, 2008

Durban and My Homestay

For some reason, I can't access the blog website from my computer, but everyone else can access it from their laptops. It's kind of annoying. I'm just using the office computers for updates. Anyway, Thursday was our first full day in Durban. We visited the offices where we have class and met with a local doctor whose practice they send us to if we get sick. He basically scared us all out of our minds about health and safety issues. Fun stuff. Then a group of boys from a Cato Manor youth empowerment organization came to take us on tours of Durban called the Drop-off. Normally, they just drop us off by ourselves, but an American tourist got shot in the leg on Sunday morning, so they were afraid to let us go alone. I definitely felt safer with our tour guide. He took us all along the beach (which was covered in Jellyfish) and we went to some markets and a little shopping center. It was a lot of fun! We got a little lost trying to get back to our group because they didn't give us very specific directions on where to meet, but we made it back ok. When we got back to the office, we had a discussion of what we saw and experienced, and then we went to a kickoff dinner where we met more of our teachers who aren't majorly involved in the program (mostly Zulu instructors/tutors).

On Friday we had our first real day of class with our first real Zulu lesson and a lecture about Zulu culture. We also set up bank accounts because we have stipends for our ISP projects and some meals, and we got our information about our homestay families. It was a pretty lax day, because it was more of a preparation for this week and moving in for saturday. We spent our last night out going to a really delicious Italian restaurant that our program director recommended. Afterwards, a few of us went to a dance club called Casablanca since it was our last night of freedom before our homestays (you can't really go out at night because their culture really looks down on it, especially for girls). There was this really drunk lady who randomly started dancing with us. We all just started laughing because she was so ridiculous and awkward. She was really strange. But she certainly made the night more interesting.

Saturday we all moved into our homestays. I was one of the last people to get dropped off, so I kept getting really anxious as our mini-bus got emptier as we drove around Cato Manor. My family consists of my mama (although I feel weird calling her "Mama" because she just turned 25), my baba (Zulu for dad), a 17-year old bhuti (brother) named Phiwe and a 14-year old sisi (sister) named Wendy. Phiwe is baba's son from a previous marriage, and Wendy is actually his niece who lives with them so she can go to a good school. I stayed around the house for most of the day watching tv, which they do A LOT (they love soap operas and reality shows), and then we went shopping later on with my friend Daryl and her sisi who live 2 doors down from me. We got separated for a while at the grocery store and mama almost called the police, but it didn't get to that point (Thankfully).

Sunday morning I woke up ridiculously early because the roosters were making a ruckus starting around 4:30. I finally got out of bed around 7. At 9:00 Wendy and I went to church with Daryl and her sisi, which was quite an experience. It was in a house down the street in a small room with plastic chairs. Lots of singing, lots of people saying their prayers all at once, lots things I didn't understand. It lasted almost 2 hours! But the people were really friendly and afterwards, they greeted Daryl and me, and I got my first Zulu handshake! (They have a special handshake-it's pretty cool) And of course when I told people I was from Kentucky, they immediately associated me with Kentucky Fried Chicken. Later Daryl, our sisis, and I went to the beach and met up with some other S.I.T. kids and their sisis/bhutis. It was a lot of fun, but the current was really strong so I didn't swim out into the Indian Ocean very far. We stopped to get something to drink before heading back home. For transportation, we used minibus-taxis, which are quite possibly the scariest things I've ever ridden in. They're basically 15-passenger vans that people can take in and out of the city. They're the most common form of transportation, and it costs less than $1 US to ride. But we took one called "Scream," and there were times when I wanted to because it took turns so fast! Also, one woman got on, looked at us and said "Why are there white people on the taxi!?" We definitely get a lot of stares sometimes, but people are still friendly. Overall, it was a lot of fun. Then Daryl and I did our homework together because she somehow missed getting the reading packets on Friday. Well, we're about to head back to our Homestays soon, so I better go. I'll definitely have to talk about Nana next time. He's my mama's 2-year-old nephew, and he's adorable! Bye for now!

1 comment:

Hollis1958 said...

The bus sounds like "Auntie" Paula's house. It sounds like you are off to a wonderful start on your adventure. I'm really proud of you!