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Originally uploaded by Naphiri.

Sometimes one just needs a bit of a vacation. I’m feeling this as it always seems that life is so much more of a rollercoaster when you’re so far from home.

Ton and I have been busy setting up our new home in Bez Valley, Johannesburg and it’s going well. This month alone we’ve been able to save up and buy a washing machine, a popcorn popper (very high on the priority list!) and a patio table (currently being used in the kitchen) and chairs.

We got a dog and she’s the sweetest sweetie puddinghead in the whole world. We still don’t have a name for her despite her being in our house for over a week now (it took us almost a month to name Sabine, our Montreal kitty! Heaven forbid that we have a child, poor thing will be a year old before s/he gets a name!) Suggestions for the name of the mutt are welcome!

But I’m so tired. I don’t even really feel like I can totally enjoy all these new exciting additions to my life.

I got word that I will be getting a financial “top-up” to my income from my current boss for some work on a project that is basically outside of my job description. This is also incredible as I’ve been saving up for a laptop for quite some time. The back-pay alone on this project will give me the majority of the cash for the new toy.

I’ve been getting quite a few freelance editing and design jobs as well – this has gone a long way in terms of the savings. It’s also had the reverse impact of making me realise how imperative it is that I get my own computer at home with which to do the work!

For those who’ve been asking, I’m still going to be moving into the HIV/AIDS position, however I’m still trying to source a good organisation with which I can partner to do the work. I’m hoping to have this established by mid-this month. You’d think that people would be jumping at the opportunity to get a free international “consultant”, a couple tickets to the Toronto HIV/AIDS conference, and an opportunity to get free reports and capacity building. Apparently not. It’s been a bit of a challenge just to get people on board. I guess most organisations are overworked, understaffed, and have little resources available to support another employee – whether or not that employee comes with their own funding.

I’ve been doing some of this work as my funding organisation has been putting some of the work that is needed to be done on my shoulders. Basically, in addition to doing my regular job, the additional job (the top-up work), and my freelance stuff, I am now doing bits of this new job. So that’s basically two fulltime jobs plus two part-times.

Jeez, I guess I never realised how hectic that sounded until now. Whoa.

So I’m still plugging away.

I’ve been feeling like all these adult responsibilities that have been coming (house, car, dog, work, etc.) have all been arriving on my doorstep attached to some kind of battle. We’re currently embroiled in a fight with the landlord to have our front fence raised and/or have palisade fencing installed for greater security. The current height is somewhere around four feet – an easily-scaled obstacle for any determined criminal.

This comes after having our backyard looted of all brand-new gardening implements (and so I ask you, who the hell steals a RAKE?!) and expensive Cat sandals. In addition, our house had an attempted break-in just a couple weeks ago. While the alarm system (complete with armed guards!) prevented the two thieves from entering the main house (they ran when the alarm went off), the Ugandan lodger staying in our small cottage in the back was tied up and robbed of just over CDN$700. The thieves were also asking her a lot of explicit questions – “we know there are two white girls who live here, one comes home for lunch, are there any others in the house…” etc.

Hence, the dog was picked out the very next day.

I had to fight for the dog. Ton and I spent all day picking out the mutt at the SPCA, only to be told that our fence was too short and she could easily clear it (which she has already proven a couple times since we got her!). We told them that she’d stay in the back (which she now is since discovery of her recent springbok-like qualities), and after fighting with them to come and re-inspect the property (they didn’t even check how high the back fence was in the first place!) they approved us for official dog ownership.

Student loans are threatening to take what little extra coin I do make from freelancing – despite the fact that I’m working on a government project for very very very little wages… apparently it doesn’t matter (idiots). And a shebeen is opening down the street from us.

There goes the neighbourhood.

A shebeen is a small neighbourhood pub/drinking hole. So far I’ve spoken with at least two other neighbours who are just as angry as Ton and I over the idea of a large group of drunken men with too much time on their hands sitting around our community listening to too-loud-for-a-residential-area music. Seems like I may have been nominated as the community representative to get a petition going against the new addition to the neighbourhood. While I would never want to stop a local business from opening up, the precedence of security issues around Johannesburg, and in our area, doesn’t make either Ton or I very comfortable with this new business venture just two doors down.

So once again I see a battle on the horizon.

Sometimes I look at things and think, what’s the big deal? I had problems, battles, and issues in Canada all the time. Landlord issues, bureaucratic BS, and hard work are universal. The part that’s tiring is simply that it takes twice the effort to play if you don’t know the rules of the game.

For example, in dealing with the fence raising issue, it’s not just a matter of sending a letter to the landlord, then going to the Régie du Logement to file a complaint. I don’t even know if there is a Régie, or some such concept here. After complaining to the rental agency by phone about the fact that the security is pathetic on the property I was told that perhaps we should consider moving into a flat elsewhere. THAT’S NOT THE POINT! WE DON’T WANT TO MOVE, we just want what was promised to us in the first place before signing the one-year lease: higher fences!! What are my rights? Well, two hours of internet research followed by ten calls (with various incomprehensible-to-my-Canadian-ear accents to navigate through) to various government departments and about twenty pass-offs, “oh, you’ll have to talk to this department, not us…” may result in… well… absolutely no new information of value.

I’ve found that fighting for your rights is also a rare concept here. While the history of South Africa is rife with overcoming struggle against oppression, this has not really translated into daily modern life. People look at you strange when you say that you will fight for your rights, fight for the principle of the matter, rather than just walk away and find something else.

And the uphill battle continues.

I need a vacation. I can’t wait for the holidays. A warm beach, cool daiquiris, and some hottie named Remsis to serve them to Ton and I. My kingdom for a snorkel mask and all the time in the world.

Home to play with my new well-fought-for puddinghead dog in the meantime…

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