Pretoria, South Africa
City picture from the Union Buildings
Most of you guys I'm in South Africa for 6 months. After flying 18 hours on Swiss Air I was ready for something better. It got much better!
I love the weather here! It's 34 Celsius here in a beautiful African summer. I don't know what that is in Fahrenheit but it's perfect for me, and I'm no longer pale anymore. It cools down at night and it is perfect for sleeping.
After a couple days to settle in I spent the weekend near the Hartebeespoort Dam. My pictures will be awesome once I print them. There were people there from every part of the world and meeting them was awesome. We hiked in the mountains to watch the sun rise over the lake one morning, attended a traditional African Braai, and an African Skies ceremony. We met a guy there and he had access to a national park, so he let us in with lions, Nile crocodiles, snakes etc. I didn't truly expect to be able to pet lions when I came, but I did, and it was cool! We camped next to an ostridge farm so when I went for morning runs the ostridge would run along
On our way!
A long and bumpy ride through Zululand
the fence with me. We played beach volleyball, swam, did high ropes courses, and had raft races as well. It was a good way to start off my six month educational vacation.
My house is nicer than I expected. We have a fenced yard as do all residences in Pretoria due to high crime. We are within a couple blocks from clubs, internet cafes, grocery, movies, and the University is across the street. The house itself has 5 large bedrooms, two baths, and a community room. The yard has a small lawn with tropical gardens (a gardener takes care of those). We are also lucky to have a maid, Sarah. She comes daily to clean, wash dishes and likes to listen and laugh a lot. She washes linens every Monday although we could do it ourselves since laundry is free, but I'm not complaining. I thought I'd be living with all guys but instead it's me, Martin (Sweden), Pam (Germany), Fleur (Holland), Julie and Shannon from Loras and another girl, Hanna, from Austria is coming soon. It's not what I expected but we all get along really well and I've got my own room so it's perfect.
Monkey in a tree in Sodwana Bay, South Africa
are much more inexpensive here than in the States. Movies R15/$1.65. Restaurant food R15-R40/$1.65-$4.50 depending on what you order. Beer R18/$2.00 for a six-pack of bottles. Last week we stayed in a bed and breakfast for $15 breakfast included! Since the American dollar is strong it works to my advantage.
The school has awesome exercise facilities. Rock climbing walls, pools, 16 rugby/cricket fields, a golf course etc. Membership to the health club is only $8 US for a month, and it's just a kilometer from my house. (a very short run or bike ride for me)
South Africa is home of the highest crime rates in the world. I caught a guy trying to pick my wallet at a club the other night. Another guy had a gun in the back of his jeans. I'd compare it to bad parts of New York maybe. We're not blind, ignorant or uneducated, so we live smarter here than in small town America.
I've already met more people than I thought I would. People in my neighborhood are international as well. I've met people from Sweden, Turkey, South Africa (obviously), Cameroon, Egypt, Tanzania, Swaziland, England, Germany, Holland, USA, Peru, Ghana,
African Elephant from our car
Colombia, Austria, France, Taiwan, China, Botswana, Lesotho, and Mozambique. I've learned more about our world in a week than I have in the past 20 years. Some of the cultures are incredibly different that any I've experienced. Tulu's father will pick her husband for her and her husband will have to give her father cows as dowry for her value as a suitable wife. The king of Swaziland gets a new wife each year. After they dance for him he picks. Men can have more than one wife in their culture. I met a guy from Cameroon and we're going to hunt bugs some day and he'll show me how to cook and eat them. They say theyâ€™re good for you too.
They drive on the other side of the road here. Werner and I were in Johannesburg last week, and he asked if I was driving since I was waiting to get in on the drivers side. He's going to take me hang gliding some weekend. I'm very excited for that.
15 of us are going to Sun City and Pilanesberg next weekend. Sun City is just a resort area with beaches and casinos. We're camping and
going on Safari in Pilanesberg National Park. We're renting cars so it'll be my first time on driving on the other side of the road.
We've been having braais/cookouts every few nights with 35 or so neighbors in each others yards so it's a cheap way to entertain and have a nice time.
After a braai on Thursday night, I went with some guys to Club Dropzone. I'd remained sober every other time I'd gone out. A friend bought me a beer and I couldn't turn it down. bla bla bla... downward spiral... Jareb proved to friends and a couple hundred people in the club that night he couldn't handle alcohol well. Long story and enough said!
I wish I could have registered for classes back home. I waited in line for a total of 5 hours before registering for my classes. It works out that I only have classes Monday, Tuesday, and some Thursdays. I'll have a break during the week and three day weekends. I hope I don't stress out!
I really hope jobs, g.f./b.f.s, classes etc. are great for everyone back home. I've met a couple South African's who'd love to live in
Tijs and I under the waterfall
America. If anyone's looking to get married soon let me know, and I'll hook you up.
Americans are indeed largely obese people. It seems the women here are beautiful, slender, and for the most part care a great deal more about presenting themselves than they do back home. We eat too well in the states I think and don't do as much physical labor as they do here. But it's weird because they say that 1/4 South Africans have HIV or AIDS and yet they all look perfectly healthy. I think it's proportional to one's position in society to a degree. Upper class Afrikaners don't seem to have the high rates the lower class blacks do. The remains of Apartheid still exist but change is sometimes slow after generations of repeated acts. Some places are most people are all black and others completely white. The population is a 50/50 ratio of blacks and whites here in Pretoria. Some of the nicest people I've met have been black. Afrikaans and English are the main languages in South Africa, however there are 11 official languages and most people know a couple. Although I can understand Spanish it isn't used here but
Three Dutch and one American hiking beautiful Drakensberg Mountains in the summer.
with the exception of a couple South Americans.
We don't have a TV in our house, but I really don't need it too bad. I wouldn't mind watching a Friends episode every once and a while.
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