call me bright eyes

so things have gotten considerably better since the last time I wrote in this blog. a vacation to the wild coast (eastern cape) did wonders for the nerves and provided a great attitude adjustment.

leaving johannesburg, however, proved enough of a challenge to accomplish.

the very day that tonya and I were set to leave for our long-anticipated coastal paradise vacation we woke to stolen tires. this was the second time our tires had been stolen and it happened right outside our front door while we slept. the kicker for me was simply that i’d just replaced the damned things – spending well over $600 to do so.

in a fit of fury and fatigue, i asked ton to go try and sell the entire vehicle. AA wouldn’t tow the car into our garage until we arranged for tires – to which I responded that if I had tires I could bloodywell drive it into our garage! so while i filled out the police report ton sold the useless crap to the dealership for $400, and we were then on our way.

we’re not transport-less due to our good friends lending us their old vehicle. while it’s not ours (read: temporary situation), it’s nice to have to go to work, go out, go on vacation, etc.

our tent, decorated for New Years

port st. johns was stunning. ton and i calmed almost instantly the minute we saw the hills of kwazulu natal (durban’s province). we spent the first night just outside durban with a good friend and then carried on the next day to the most spectacular sites and fun in the sun.

swimming daily in the ocean, hiking, riding around in the back of the bakkie (truck) to more stunning vistas, hanging out with wonderful locals and backpackers alike, tonya and i couldn’t have asked for a better vacation. i think I was also in a good position to do some soul-searching regarding my year of hell in johannesburg.

i think so much of our troubles probably stemmed from a combo of living in a more-crime intensive city and a simple canadian naïveté. we’ve now learned the rules of the game. keep yourself closed and protected, don’t trust everyone instantly, and always think of security first.

coming home was lovely, though done somewhat reluctantly after a holiday from heaven. it was nice to see eunice again, as well as the dog.

oh, and the dog’s name is shigazi – the name of shaka zulu’s most fierce and trusted warrior.

eunice is one of our closest and dearest friends. she came to jozi with a friend from uganda to try and escape some of the persecution that women and lgbti people face there. we offered them a place to stay in the cottage out back, and after her friend left to continue her travels, eunice has become a permanent and welcome fixture to our home and lives.

while tonya was away in lesotho for work on my 30th birthday, eunice joined me and several other friends for an amazing braai (bbq) at another friend’s house. i was surrounded by strong and beautiful women (and one wonderful guy friend) who enabled an easy acceptance of turning “the big 3-ohmigod”. one thing that i’m constantly thankful for is being surrounded by such amazing and creative people.

so now i’m back to work and looking forward to the in-laws visiting in a week. i love the grahams and am really excited about their visit. plus, i believe they’re carrying a care package from home for me, so that’s a huge added bonus!

in preparations for the visit i’ve recently discovered an almost frightening passion for do-it-yourself projects. despite our lack of disposable income i managed to convert an old cable spool into a very practical coffee table, hooked up some electricity for eunice in the cottage, installed the first of two shelves in my room, framed and mounted some photographs, purchased a sewing machine and completed the first two of three curtains for the windows, and now am contemplating further work on the coffee table in the form of a tile mosaic on the top. the trip to port st. johns taught me that i need to have additional focus and passion in life beyond work.

so far, so good.

i’ve been managing to healthily avoid obsessing over work by throwing a hammer and paintbrush into some creative projects. i also bought a hand carving tool and made some jewellery with the shells ton and i collected on the beach.

Maputo me

work is okay. i recently attended a conference in maputo, mozambique, to discuss current and future work plans. the HIV/AIDS project has been slow in development however looks now like it can progress – after quite a few lengthy discussions with “bosses” in canada and moz. i also managed to pluck up the courage to tell my current boss (in the organisation) that i’m planning this move – hopefully by april 1st. i’ll keep you posted on how it’s all shaping up.

tonya managed to get work afterall. she’s be working from home with a major local ngo here and so far she’s loving every minute of it. she stays busy with project planning and development for plays, radio dramas, comic books, and all sorts of other fun stuff for various groups – people living with AIDS, the lgbti community, and migrant workers, among others. while she’s also learning that development work comes with loads of paperwork and reports to funders, i still contend that she has a way funner job than so many others!

both of our contracts are currently set until the end of october. we’re right now discussing/negotiating the possibility of extending given the professional excitement levels of the work she’s doing and the work that i will soon be doing. this also means that a trip home comes part and parcel of working longer than two years in the field. YAY!!

i’m applying for other jobs right now mostly to keep myself fresh. ton and i have already agreed that, despite the personal and professional growth that comes with development work, we simply cannot afford to volunteer next year. at a certain point a person must consider the financial commitments and responsibilities that seem to accompany growing older (and previous studies). i’m still committed to continuing graduate studies (that’s Doctor Naphiri, to you) at some point in the future but i must consider previous debts before even contemplating such a commitment.

i’m getting older. more mature.

so far so good. this year’s shaping up to be a good one already.

happy new year. i’ll lock up my valuables to that!