they say that life in Africa is supposed to go at a slower pace. like the sounds of the reggae and r&b on the radio you are to breathe in relaxation, arch your back, stick out your booty and sway to the universal flow. so far i have not found this to be true.

like the awesome lightening storm that woke me the other night my life has taken on chaotic and fierce dimensions. the rain pours in buckets suddenly as the entire room lights up. the crash from overhead rocks your small bed leaving you timid and humble to nature’s course. as suddenly as it came it leaves, refreshing and nourishing the green, purple and red all around you.

i’m moving into a small cottage in Melville, Jo’burg. i made the decision rather suddenly as the opportunity arose and now am facing the financial and bureaucratic consequences of the decision. the sending organisation programme officer is not impressed. this could also have to do with the angry letter i sent asking why i suddenly have to pay hundreds of dollars in deposits, furniture repayment and so on when before, while living with the interns, it was all covered. it was never explained to me that these costs were to be reimbursed. ahh, amber, making friends wherever she goes.

the decision to move cannot be reversed, nor do i want it to be. i payed the deposit and first month’s rent today and got the keys.

the details:

Melville is the young, vibrant, yuppie area of town. it’s also one of the more safer areas as well. i was originally supposed to move here but the delay in leaving made this an impossibility. while i’ll (we’ll) be paying more for rent i’ll (we’ll) be spending far less on transportation as it is close to all amenities, restaurants and shops. i’m (we’re) moving into a small cottage with one very large bedroom. there is ample room in the living room, kitchen and bathroom for Tonya to join me in January and for us not to be stepping all over each other. a “cottage” is basically a small home that is separate from a larger home – usually only one or two rooms large. cottages traditionally were designed as homes for domestic workers but are now used as guest homes, mother-in-law suites, or homes for young couples or singles who are just starting out (like us!).

i think that, despite the sudden financial issues, we’ll enjoy the new place. the main house is owned by a colleague of mine so he’s already offered to give me lifts to and from work on most days. there are excellent bars, bakeries, shops and so on all around the area so there will be a decreased dependence on vehicles (a necessary item in this city, it seems). perhaps i can even purchase a bicycle eventually to be able to visit friends in neighbouring areas. i will also have to buy a celphone soon as there’s no landline in the place – i’ll let you all know this number once it’s set up.

moving day looks like it will be today as i only have a bed and a desk to my name and the guys with the truck are only willing to work this afternoon for a cheap price. i already have the afternoon off so will go to this silly organisation meeting (the aformentioned programme officer wants to “clear the air”) then run home to finish packing.

i know a lot of people have been asking for sights, sounds and tastes of Africa. i’m sorry that i’m being such a bad traveller by not updating you on the “exotic-ness” of my life, but the truth is simply that i’m still in “settling-in” mode. my life is just so busy with trying to figure out the basics of survival that i really haven’t ventured far nor experimented with many new tastes. as soon as i sort out housing and then really sink my teeth into the work i’m doing, i’ll be able to update more on the other stuff. i also hope to get out of the city more as, really, Jo’burg is a lot like an African version of Toronto – stinky, trafficky, busy and work-oriented. it’s incredibly westernized – there are even many KFCs and McDo’s here. perhaps next weekend i’ll be able to go to Soweto or some other township to experience a “truer” South African vibe. i’ll let y’all know.

in the meantime, take care and i’ll send out the new address once i’m more settled in. much love.