Monday, January 18, 2010

settling in.

So now that it's Monday, I've been here in Botha's Hill almost a week.  Hard to believe already!  I'm sure this is an omen that the year will fly by, especially once we begin work and get into our daily routines.
I thought I'd attempt to post a couple of photos to show you slices of the beginnings of a life here at 8 Warwickshire Crescent.  Thanks to our new computer, I can now be a bit more diligent about this little blog.

The entrance to our little "cottage"

The amazing view of Embo from our property

My side of the bedroom I share with Becca

Life has been exciting but exhausting.  I've been really struggling to find time to sit and process things as the days pass, but between grocery trips, visits to our worksites, and meeting new people, it's been hard to take quiet time.  We've taken turns leading a small reflection every night, but I still like to sit quietly on my own and think things through.  Unlike at home, I'm not at liberty to go for a run alone and think, though Mary-Kate and I did venture out into the neighborhood across the main road two days ago for a jog.  Even stepping outside our gated property without the safety of a car was a really weird feeling, but it's quite safe; we just have to stay alert.
Food shopping at the supermarket has been an adventure in and of itself-- because we live on a budget, we have to be really diligent about saving money and making things last.  Here in South Africa, it seems that milk in a bag and wine in a box will save us valuable rand.
Doing things like exercising and grocery shopping have slowly begun to make me feel quite at home here in South Africa.  I find my mind less and less preoccupied with the fact that "I'm in AFRICA!" and more and more just struggling to get into a routine that will make me feel organized and productive, as I did when I moved to Villanova, and when I studied abroad in Paris.  It's hard because I haven't started working yet, but tomorrow or the next day work will come and these more relaxing days will, I'm sure, be just a distant memory.

Sunday was a great day; our group went to two Masses which seemed like it would be a lot but was a really fascinating study in the dichotomy here in South Africa that we've come to experience every single day.  Whether it be visiting the Hillcrest AIDS Center and then driving down the highway to a Western-style megamall, or spending two hours at a Zulu mass in the morning and then with the white community at Kloof in the evening, the differences between life in the valley and life in the hills are more striking as the days pass.
The Zulu mass at St. Leo's, though long, was really beautiful with traditional singing that blew us all away.  It ended with a slew of parish announcements which is typical on Sundays, when the whole community gets to be together all at once and hear the current news.  Deacon Lawrence announced that the Cardinal of Durban has mandated that every parish (even outstations like St. Leo's) contribute monetarily to the Haitian relief effort.  I was really touched, because the people of St. Leo's, who typically would be the ones on the receiving end of aid requests, emitted such a generous spirit.
After evening mass at Kloof last night, a group of young adults from the parish invited us back to one of their houses for pizza and beer.  It was a really lovely evening, and the four of us here were quite glad to make connections with South Africans our age who hopefully will show us around a bit!  Our lives here in Botha's Hill, besides work and errands, will be quite isolated, as it isn't safe for the four of us to venture out, even in the light of day.

Our AV international director, Pat, is here with us until Wednesday.  He was a volunteer when the South Africa program began, and he's been such a great source of information about work, recreation, and general other aspects of life here.  After he leaves, the four of us will really be on our own-- driving on the opposite side of the road, handling our monthly budget, and making connections with people at our individual worksites all by ourselves.  I can't wait to start working, though we haven't had a chance to learn much Zulu yet and I'd really like to be able to speak a little when I get to St. Leo's.  I'm sure that will come with time.

So, to recap:
- new computer
- photos of 8 Warwickshire Crescent
- valley vs. hills
- Sunday routine
- excited to start working

Apologies for the rambling, but my mind is all muddled and I want to get everything out so I don't forget anything.

Salani kahle!
(May you stay well)


  1. Great post Shin, especially being able to see the place.

  2. Lovely Shin, just lovely to get a peek of your very busy week. Keep it up, we love it. Miss You. Love Mum, muah xxxx

  3. Sorry that this is the third family post in a row, but as they said it's so nice to see pics! Sitting here in Bartley on a Monday morning feels very far away from where you are, but thankfully just a little closer when I can see where you are!
    muah xx

  4. Just popped by to say Hi, Sinead...great to see the photos and hear about the start of your adventure....Keep well and keep safe...Ruth xoox

  5. Lovely lovely pictures - what a view (and I spy the calendar)! Glad you're settling in and getting organized :) Miss you <3

  6. Hi Sinead, so glad you arrived safely. The pictures are beautiful. Please take care and enjoy what this adventure will bring. See you soon honey!!!


  7. You're right, you did pick a really lovely picture of me to hang on your wall. Thanks.

    Glad it's going well (so surreal still, reading your posts from Africa). Can't wait to hear more!