Thursday, February 24, 2011

Friday 18/02/11- Sunday 20/02/11

      On Friday, we had a fairly simple list of things we needed to buy for our house and things we needed to do, including open a bank account- seems simple right? Nope. Not. At. All. We went to the bank and were told at reception that we needed proof of our lease. So we left and walked all the way to Mowbray, two neighborhoods away, to meet with the staff housing specialist to get it sorted out. We had cash to pay rent but she did not want our money until we could pay it electronically with a bank card. So we are smarter and ride a white taxi bus back to the bank. The receptionist then asks for the husband’s proof of contract with UCT. What?! You couldn’t tell us that before?? So we go to the human resources office and get what we need and get to the bank in time to meet with a very nice woman and got a “Premier” account. We have temporary debit cards, they will call us when they have the new ones available. We have to go the bank in person to activate them, we can’t get them in the mail like in the USA. We went to the grocery store again- every day we are now going to be doing this. We have a small fridge and things come in small quantities.
We spoke with the Grad Student who gave us the information of the company in town that he used to unlock his iPad. We also met his lovely girlfriend. They both like our dogs, which means that we like them.
I was seriously experiencing jet lag and was falling asleep on the couch at 8:30 p.m.- again, anyone who knows me knows that if I go to bed by midnight, it is a good night. To top it all, throughout the night Etta was restless and kept waking me up.
      On Saturday we went to the City Bowl to iFixiPod, the iPod unlocking place that the neighbor had told us about. We took a long ride in a rickety taxi van with 14 other people that in the USA would only fit 7-9  people. We went through a sketchy part of town, don’t know that the neighborhoods were, to a large parking area for taxis next to the main train and bus terminal for Cape Town. We walked a LONG way up another hill and finally found it, with brief stops at a book store for a map book of Cape Town and at a motorcycle shop. Go figure. We walked down Kloof and Long Street, where we saw three different Backpacker’s Hostels. These are the main hostels in SA; they have a many all along the coast, and inland too and they have a shuttle that can take you to each one. Many people go up and down the coast or start in Cape Town and make their way up the eastern coast and end in Joburg. Long is a very hip street and some parts of the video I posted come from that street.
     Sunday was our first relaxing day in a long time. We have been going strong for weeks and we allowed ourselves to rest in the house for most of the morning, then went to the Cavendish Mall area to see if we could find us a belt, wallet, shirt, and each of us a pair of shoes. We don’t get our things until April 1st, so we have a long wait. The hubby finally found a wallet, and I had minor luck with a shirt. We also bought some half price books and an Edward Gorey puzzle. You’ll know who the illustrator is if you remember the opening scenes of Mystery! on PBS. It has amused us for many hours since we do not have television. It was funny, we were actually getting competitive about it! Saying things like “well, I got all this section, what did you get done?” We took pictures of our progress. Now we are done and we need another puzzle. 
The completed masterpiece.

Sound track of the days: Falling or Flying by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Listen starting at minute 1:10.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Time Lapse of Cape Town

I have some stuff waiting to post, but I'm too tired to work on it tonight, so I'll leave you with this short time-lapse video of Cape Town. I love how artistic it is, but it only shows the "smooth" parts of the city.  Miss you all!

Seriously Beautiful Cape Town - Timelapses from Silver Bullet Productions on Vimeo.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Thursday 17/02/11

The first five days have been interesting. Jet leg has affected me several ways and has changed every day. The first night there, as I described before was not fun, and I have woken up before my husband every morning since we arrived. Those of you who know me well know that me waking before him is an anomaly to the highest degree! On our first day, we hiked (and I mean it!) up to his department’s building. Google Maps does not make it clear how big this hill/mountainside is that the UCT campus is built on. They really were not expecting us, so nothing was in order. Luckily, we were able to snag his office right before a grad student asked for it- he at least has an office window!! After 5 years in a basement dungeon, he can now get a tan while working…or maybe not. Then, someone gave us a ride to Cavendish Mall in Claremont, which has a large 3-story mall and lots of other stores near by. We got sim cards for our phones, but still need them unlocked. We also bought a wireless modem for our laptops. You have to prepay for your usage for the phones and internet. We got a huge runaround for the next two days about how to upload more internet time, but we thankfully have it sorted now! We tried to go to the bank, but it closed at 3:30. 3:30!? After going to the grocery store nearby (we are so lucky it’s close since we don’t have a car- but still limited by what we can carry up a hill). We met the guy who loves behind us in the guest house, who is an American grad student in jazz music. He is very friendly and loves Cape Town. He has given us many tips and thoughts on life here. We finally had dinner at a Chinese restaurant recommended to us, but I didn’t like what I ordered; the husband liked his noodles. Might have to give it one more try, but with a seasoned orderer with us. 

Getting adjusted this first day seemed somewhat easier in some ways than I thought it would be, but harder in others. I have always had a vehicle, or access to one, for most of my life and even just one day of not having easy transportation is really opening my eyes to how many other (middle class?) people live. Life seems ten times harder and if we get two things done, we are proud of ourselves. We are thinking outside the box on how we can make do with what we have because we cannot haul big or heavy things home. I guess it might be like what living in a big city is like in America- Chicago or NYC, but the transportation infrastructure is not as advanced or new.  I like how I’m learning about myself and what life can be like for other people.  I know that we are privileged enough to afford a taxi if we want, and plan to get a car in a few months, but now I have a new appreciation for things I have taken for granted most of my life.
Have any of you ever lived without a car? How do you get pieces of furniture home (without having to pay for delivery or asking strangers to help you)?

 Note: Please write comments!! I am communicating with you, but hardly receive any response, and I’d appreciate hearing from you. It’s a *little* lonely here, luckily P and I have always been pretty satisfied with only each others company- but this is a little extreme!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Last day and Travels

My predictions came mostly true: I only slept about four hours the night before we left Tucson. We had so much to do on the 14th. We had a list of about 10-15 tasks that HAD to be done that day and were thwarted several times in our attempts to complete them, but we did it! We worked really well together in planning our day, driving route, time management, and communication. We were proud of ourselves. We even fit in a dentist appointment to fix a filling that had an air bubble in it and was causing me pain. My dentist came in on her day off to fix it for free! She is the best. Our reservation for Valentine’s dinner was at 5:00, we barely got home from storage at 4:45. We did the fastest quick change ever, no shower, no makeup. I realized that it really didn’t matter to me whether we stunk or not, just that we got to be together and relax. Afterwards, we had to drop off dad’s truck that we had borrowed and deliver the Land Rover to its new owner. Then we did the “weighing game” with our suitcases. Weigh it, take something out, weigh it, take something, out, etc. and repeat! Finally we got them at just under 50 pounds. 

We woke at about 5:00 a.m. for my dad to pick us up at 6:00. We showered and ran around putting last minute things into the shed that did not make it to storage. (And we still left things in the closet!! Aggravating). We left the house pretty messy, which was embarrassing to me- I would have stayed up all night cleaning if P had not made me stop. There was just not enough time…We got to the airport and it was pretty hard to say goodbye to my father.  I didn’t  let myself cry, or even now, because I might not stop for a long time. It is very hard dealing with competing emotions: feeling very sad about leaving our lives and family and friends, and being excited about  our adventure. 

Check-in went relatively smoothly, except that we found out we could have checked two bags, not just one each. I knew it, but had forgotten, and I depended on my husband, who had looked up all the luggage requirements, to know about such things… (enough said). The flight to Atlanta went smoothly and I got some good pictures- I love taking pictures from airplanes! We had over a six hour layover there, so we had a sit-down lunch and then used the last hours on our iPhones, e-mailing people, posting on Facebook, and calling loved ones one last time. I bought three overpriced reusable nylon bags (which has been totally worth it while traveling and here in CT) to help carry our jackets and magazines. We boarded our flight to Johannesburg (Joburg), which was a 15 hour flight. We were in the middle row, which had three seats. To our luck, the third person moved and we had the whole row to ourselves. We each had our own touchscreens with many, many movies and television shows to choose from. Then last time I travelled abroad, I did not have such choices- very liberating! Also, we did not need to listen to a book on tape together, as we had planned. We do that because we can share the same amusement while on planes that do not have in-flight entertainment. I watched several episodes of The Many States of Tara, which has a character with Dissociative Identity Disorder, a Drew Barrymore movie called Going the Distance, Due Date (this movie made Pedro really laugh, so I watched it and was not impressed…) and The Social Network (which I fell asleep and woke up to many times, the language was a little over my head!- all those smart Harvard people…). The flight felt like it was so slooow and lasted way longer than 15 hours! We got to Joburg and had about an hour layover after going through customs and re-checking our baggage. That airport is very confusing, CT’s seemed much more logical. We were picked up by a taxi guy with a sign; he was very friendly and explained a few things to us. We went to a faculty residence hall first to pick up our keys and lease, then arrived at midnight to our new home! When we were changing into our pajamas, I noticed that both of our legs were swollen and puffy! It is slowly going away. P slept fairly well, but sleep was elusive for myself. I woke up at 2:30 a.m. and stayed awake until 4:00, then woke again at 5:30 a.m. Luckily, I was awake when the dogs arrived at 7:00 a.m.  In the next post I’ll speak of our experience so far in CT.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Final Days!

Wow, I have not been this tired; maybe ever. It feels as though every second is precious and that I must be doing something vital and important, otherwise I am wasting time and will forget to do something important. I just have to remind myself that there are people in Tucson that have our best interests at heart and will do what they can for us while we are gone. Boy am I gonna miss the reassurance that those people give me every day by their mere presence.

Today, we realized that because of the airline we are taking to Africa has a size restriction. If we go even 2 inches past their cut off, it will be $200. If it weighs over 50 pounds, it will cost another $200! So now, we have to get a new suitcase and leave the one we just bought two weeks ago! I call this “sucky.”  

We now only have three full days here in Tucson before we leave…ack! My priority tomorrow is to get everything that should be in storage there, spend a few quality hours with our niece “E”, and then have a great pot luck/last going away party!  Then on Sunday, most of our day is taken up with bringing the dogs to Phoenix for the first leg of their flight. They stay in Houston for almost a day, then Amsterdam for almost a day. Finally, they land in Cape Town about half an hour after us, but due to customs, they will not be released to us until the next morning. Luckily, it sounds like someone will pick us up and have our house keys ready for us. Then we can sleep (if we can) in our new home the same night we get there. Our lease is only for six months, so we will be finding more permanent accommodations either before or by six months’ time. 

Monday, our last day here, is Valentine’s Day. We have an early dinner planned at one of our favorite restaurants, KingFisher. I hope they have Crème Brulee on the menu!!! I doubt that I will fall asleep that night (get your mind out of the gutter!) because I will be too excited and anxious about the trip. Any suggestions the help me get some sleep?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Now what?

  So, we have been furiously working and taking breaks, and furiously working every day, then trying to squeeze in quality time with people we care about.  On Friday, the movers came and took most of our basic belongings with them. They were here for four hours and between the two of them, Pedro, and I, we managed to get everything properly packed.  Only a few things did not get in, such as our dishes (my fault because I couldn't find the ones we got from our wedding and had saved for our trip) and a wine rack. During the packing/moving melee, "P" lost his keys! We have not seen them since...After living through the last few days, I now have a new perspective to what matters in my life; it seems to be an evolving concept every time I move. For example, as I started packing our office, I contemplated taking all of my books with me to SA (South Africa), I decided to bring them and I packed them into storage instead. I had a little time to select some for a friend, and a few to give away.  As a librarian's daughter, I truly value books for the knowledge, learning, and stimulation they hold, but I kinda now just want a Color Nook (hint hint) to hold all my books. I just can't see myself lugging books around anymore, especially when many get outdated through new discovery and technology.

  After the movers left, we had an empty but messy house. What a predicament! Now we are living out of humongous suitcases and have no idea when our belongings will arrive in SA. We tried to leave enough crappy cooking utensils, etc. for us to use, which is going pretty well except for they took all our knives. We are making do with using grilling utensils and leftover steak knives. The dogs know that something is up because the house looks different every day. We are trying to keep them and ourselves on a routine. Our goal for most days is to leave the house by 8:30 a.m. to go to the gym. This is going fairly well, although the leg workout we did put us out of commission for a few days!

  Okay, to get to the title of this post, It seems like we have a never ending list of things to do to the house and get done for ourselves before we leave; this in layman’s terms = more money we have to spend :(.  For instance, I was opening the front screen door two days ago, and the lock broke in my hand and fell off! Now we need to buy a new lock and because it must match the handle, we now have to buy one of those too! Then, while sitting on the throne, I noticed that there is water seeping slowly onto the tile around the base of the toilet...of course we have the time and energy to put in a new wax ring! We ordered carpet and I really hope that it can be installed in time. They said "72 hours guaranteed" but that does not mean from the time you leave the store, that means from after they come a measure the room three days later and then call you two days later to give you the estimate and charge you an arm and a leg.

  So, it sounds like we have a long list, but we have done a lot of work though! I steam scrubbed the shower and steam mopped the entire floor of the guest house. I successfully had all the pictures professionally scanned and then  I sorted through 2/3 of all the hard copies to organize them back the way they came, and organized them even better! Pedro and I uploaded them to Picasa and I single-handedly identified over 600 faces into family categories. Pedro has almost finished with squaring and securing both bathroom windows and a closet door. He put a new lock on one of the bathroom windows so that it won't blow open during every monsoon storm. Pedro, with help, has worked to build the wooden transition threshold from the living room to the master bedroom. We just have to stain it and the double doors above the threshold. We went to storage and took half of all the furniture that we need to place in a dark corner for the next few years. Today, I cleaned out my “car/office” so that I can take it to the car wash and use my Groupon that I got! Tomorrow I plan to re-grout 4-6 kitchen tiles that have fallen off and also continue to pack up or give away all the other crap that is left in the house. Luckily, it is big bulk and trash pickup next week, so we have a big pile of things in our front yard. We probably would have a pile anyways because we like to try to give things away and recycle them to people who want it and need it (items we have given away: a broken heavy duty car jack, a 35mm camera, an old iPod that won't sync, army boots, and a watering can, to name a few).

  Tomorrow, we also must go to Kinkos, print out a few important documents for the dogs (since we have packed up our printer), take the dogs to the vet for their final official approval, then FedEx overnight to the Phoenix USDA office all of the dog's paperwork. We will pre-pay to have it overnighted back to us so that when we take them to the airport on Sunday, they will have all their paperwork in order. Crazy. On a side note, we decided that it was worth over a hundred dollars to ship them Sunday night and stay in the Houston Airport kennel for a night, rather than wake up at 2:00 a.m. on Monday to get them to the Phoenix airport at 4:30 a.m. Our flight is on early Tuesday morning, so we decided that it would be too taxing on our bodies (lack of sleep!) right before a transoceanic flight.Would it have been worth it to you?

Aside: I am just getting used to blogging and need to figure out a good frequency and length. What did you think of this post? Also, I really care about having smooth transitions, but sometimes that just does not happen. Is my writing too choppy?