Thursday, September 25, 2008
Two Saturdays ago I drove to Grahamstown on a whim at half past three in the afternoon for a visit. I got there at half-past one. Apparently my mobile phone company has no towers outside of large cities, so it only worked 30 minutes of the 10-hour drive (yes, I did take breaks and rest). So my plans to call for a guest lodge during the drive failed. And 1:30 AM was so close to the morning, I decided not to worry with waking anyone (you’re not allowed to stay in residences/dorms of people of the opposite gender in South Africa) and getting people in trouble nor paying for a night at a hotel since the first night would not be fully used. So I slept in my car.
In the morning I surprised Haley, and she was surprised. She was very sad when I said I that I had a lot of work to do (I did) and that our spring breaks did not match up so I couldn’t go to Malawi (where she is now working at an orphanage for its grand opening). But she was elated. It think besides her being somewhat sad, it was just good to see her as we did not get to see each other during the “weekend away”, a weekend where all the participants in my marriage course went out of town to some cabins for more teaching and marriage sessions. And STILL people asked where my partner was and apologized, feeling sorry for me (if you read previous updates you know I haven’t been able to escape this). So it was good to do some of the work in person—previously I would go home after every session and type out my notes as well as create the hand-outs from scratch in Microsoft Word. It’s silly that I would do that but according to them, they did not have electronic copies of the book or handouts. I don’t believe them. SOMEONE had to type it.
Anyway, I had copied the book and sent it awhile ago, but I had mail problems so she had only had it for half a week. But it was good to talk through things though, Haley has strong opinions about most of those things—debt, finances, contracts, etc. So it wasn’t really new. The nice thing was doing some planning for the church ceremony (wedding ceremony; actually it may be outside) in August 2009 in Idaho. So set your calendars. In case I forget to invite you, just remind me.
Anyway, it was a nice visit. I was finally able to meet the final 2 housemates out of the 6. I met Estelle, an Afrikaaner from Pretoria, and Kosi, a Xhosa girl from Mtata in the Eastern Cape (same province as Grahamstown). Estelle is an honours politics student who feels strongly about her country and wants to become president someday. She has beautifully wavy hair that she hates. Kosi is a postgraduate student in journalism with a quiet (sometimes loud) spirit whose passions lie elsewhere. Hopefully next year she can pursue that and not journalism just because she won a scholarship. Money is important here in this country. I also got to see Matt (a teacher volunteer funded by Episcopal church in the states; very chill and communal heart), again, and Eben (vibrantly real and strangely observant masters politics student who will be doing Peace Corps next year!) and the lovely Rosa ( masters philosophy student who questions much of the world in a way that I hope leads her to the truth; she wants to change the world through philosophy but that might switch to law or something else)..
I saw how much the girls love Oprah. I saw how much the US election is on everyone’s mind even over there. I saw the size of Grahamstown. I just really relaxed. They were all still studying as it was mid-terms week before spring break. So I helped when I could. Rosa asked me to help edit her paper for a conference a week ago on Saturday (she presented and it went well!!!). I was so excited. It was her first and a rewarding experience in my book. I think there should be more funding for graduate students to go to conferences and present and learn the field (and the game and see if they want to play). Haley took to an observatory in Grahamstown with an amazing view of the entire city through the use of a mirror in a tower that focuses its reflected light through a lens and down into a dark room on top of a white drum. In that room you can see the entire city from the outside. It’s amazing. And you can rotate it to look at different parts. I went to the very small History museum which required a lot of reading (Haley did not give me enough time to read it all). There was a second exhibit (room) and all the others were being built.
We also went to a monastery but it appeared deserted, or all the monks (Christian not Buddhist; it was a Benedictine order) were watching us from behind closed doors. The chapel is open to all who wish to engage in silent prayer. It’s a beautifully designed building set at the highest point at the retreat center filled with glass on 3 walls and center area on the ceiling providing for amazing views and light bouncing off the very light brown hard wood floors which muffle the squeaks of our tennis shoes. But no monks showed up for the 5 o’clock mass. We could not figure it out. It was still very nice touring the place. They even have guest lodges for people who want a retreat or a silent retreat.