Originally uploaded by Naphiri.

It’s not that life is more scary here, just more extreme. I like to see life in Canada as a merry-go-round sometimes – it’s got its ups and downs, but basically it’s pretty tame. There are no big unexpected things that happen; you never need to worry about your health, your safety, your life.

Africa is a rollercoaster. I know these metaphors are pretty old and overused but you’ll have to blame my lack of creativity on spending too much time getting paid to be creative within four muted and pock-marked beige walls.

Today Tonya and I came into work to find that a stray bullet from the street below had made its way through the office windows last night (we’re on the 6th floor), tore through the curtains, ripped a hole in the plant on the counter, charged through the partition wall, to imbed itself only inches away from where the secretary’s head is usually busily taking phone calls for our happy little office staff family.

We all spent the morning looking at a real live bullet – only the Canadians, Tonya and I, were amazed and awed by seeing our first spent bullet (other than from the occasional gopher shoot event stemming from my prairie-based youth memories that is!).

To top it all off the big news last night that we received on our new 54cm TV (more about that later…) was that Joburg was hit with a decent-sized earthquake yesterday afternoon around noon. While the staff played “where were you when it hit?” this morning, Ton and I realised that we were out and about and probably hanging out in the post office queue yesterday when the quake hit. Apparently you don’t feel it as much if you’re standing up.

We were in the post office to buy a TV license when it hit (yes, you have to buy a $45 yearly license to own and watch a TV set here!).

The other day Tonya and I realised that, due to her arriving late, we never did get the entire “settling-in allowance” that was owed to us as a couple. Since it was just me here at first I only got my portion of this one-month pay equivalence. So we followed up on it and a miraculous extra 1/2 month’s pay arrived in our bank account yesterday! YAY!! So we figured that a TV, followed by a larger couch and a bed are the priorities. Last night we finally got to see some of the commercials that office friends speak about!

Tomorrow Tonya gets a great birthday present (her birthday is today, March 10th), and I get a great vacation, since we’re going to Mpumalanga. Just three hours outside of Johannesburg, Mpumalanga is supposed to be one of the most beautiful areas in South Africa. One of our friends owns a time share and needs to use it before the end of the month so we’ll be hanging out, swimming in the pool, laying on the deck, going horseback riding, playing tennis, and basically just chilling out for the weekend! I am pretty excited. The only down to the trip is that one of the other invitees is the Canadian that I’ve spoken of in previous journal entries. We managed to patch things up a bit, or rather we just keep bumping into each other since our social circles seem to be concentric. She’s alright in small doses, I’m hoping I’ll have plenty of time away from her rather than having to hang out the entire weekend.

I failed to invite her to a party that she just found out about yesterday. I got a weird call at lunch hour (just after the quake?) asking for a pre-weekend meeting to talk about the “weirdness between us”. I don’t really regret not inviting her to the party, I just feel guilty that I got caught looking like a schmuck (i.e. “Sure, I’ll come on a trip with you to which your close friend invited me, but you can’t hang out with me any other time if I can help it!”) In any case, a little damage control and only semi-sincere apologies should sort it all out soon.

Next weekend, only 5 days after getting back from Mpumalanga, Tonya, our friend Shanya, and I will be heading to Malawi to see Adam. I think Tonya will be staying an extra week after to hang with her bro’, but I’ll be back to work after 10 days of chilling in the “Land of flaming water”. I hope that we can do a bit of SCUBA diving while there but we’ll see how far the cash lasts! We’ll also be trying to pick up some cheap and easily transportable furniture in Malawi as well, we’re hoping.

We’ll also be getting up close and personal with the locals as we’re taking the “chicken bus” to Harare. After much research (and laughing in the faces of bus clerks quoting us prices of over US $100 for one way to Lilongwe!) we found that the cheapest route to Malawi will be via “Jimmy’s bus lines” to Harare, then a Zimbabwean equivalent to “Jimmy” in Harare to take us the rest of the way to Lilongwe. Should be an adventure! The bonus: Jimmy’s bus only costs about US $30! Yes, we did take into account the lack of air conditioning and equivalent locals’ lack of deodorant that will be status quo on the trip. I’m just praying that Tonya will be the only hairy beast slobbering on my shoulder whilst sleeping rather than any new cloven-hoofed friends. Ahhh, Africa.

I’ll send out updates once back. Once again I hope that all is well. Remember that while I’m here I still think of you and wonder what’s going on in everyone’s lives!

Much love and furry new friends to you all! Have a bullet-proof day in the land of merry-go-round safety!