Still in Africa, still blogging.
We’ve come to the end of our stay at Nelspruit Backpackers (sob), having had an extra day to spend here owing to Toockey (our homestay host)’s seemingly spontaneous weekend trip to Durban. Now it’s onwards to Lekazi, where we’ll be spending the duration of our trip. Paul and Natalie have been fantastic hosts, always asking us if there’s anything we need, and constantly bemused at the fact that we’ve been sat at the table, laptops out and bits of paper strewn about, for pretty much the whole time we were there. It was nice to have our working day interspersed with recommendations for places to get pizza and beer, or tips on where we can go for a beautiful view and a bit of a hike. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to take them up on some of their advice.
Though it’s been very admin-heavy, it’s been a nice few days: it felt weirdly like home, because the hostel is almost like a homestay, what with all the kids and animals charging about (well, more like solemnly plodding in the case of the dogs). It’s been sunny for the most part – sunny enough for us to very nearly be tempted into taking a dip in the pool, before we dipped a toe in and quickly discovered that that would in fact be a very unusual and unnecessary way to meet an early death.
Rachel and I have quickly broken down the barriers commonly held by new acquaintances, and are already perfectly happy discussing such important matters as our bowel movements and the acceptability of farting in front of one’s friends (conclusion: it is acceptable). All jokes aside, it’s great having a partner to be doing all this with, and it’s such a comfort to have her here, heaving herself (sorry, gracefully leaping) into the bunk above me every night. Even if she is absolutely shit at helping me with directions. At least she provides a lot of entertainment when watching a scary film the cinema: cue nervous arm-grabbing and comedy popcorn-throwing-in-the-air (we went to see Jurassic World yesterday evening).
Work-wise, we managed to get everything done that we needed to; all the necessary people now know that we’re here (even those who didn’t know or remember who ‘we’ are), and the phone calls have provided enough entertainment of themselves to make a hell of a lot of paperwork seem like a reasonable way to spend our time. Though at times difficult to decipher from down the end of a very battered old Samsung phone, I’ve already begun to love the smiling South African speech, the measured tempo of their voices, and the long ‘Yeeeeeesssss’ of agreement which is like a shining beacon of hope when we (finally) come to an arrangement for a meeting time. Almost everyone I’ve been in contact with so far has been so willing to accommodate us and I’m incredibly grateful for it. Gladys, one of the co-founders of Tenteleni, has been a particular favourite (not that I’ve met her yet), owing to her response to my question, ‘When are you be free for us to meet you?’ with ‘You tell me the day and the time and I will be free.’ I can’t wait to meet her.
We also met Netto, another big dog in the Tenteleni world, who might just be the closest thing to a famous person I’ve ever met. He happened to be around Nelspruit for one or another of his many charitable ventures, so said he could swing by the hostel, and we had a great chat huddled round a table outside (it’s frigging cold at night in the winter here!). He allayed all our fears, answered all our questions, and I was left feeling in general that the conversation had been like a great big hug. He seems to know everyone and everything (he even used to work at the hostel we are staying at, so knew Paul and Natalie), and it sounds like people haven’t been exaggerating when they’ve told us that he is the guardian angel of Tenteleni.
But now it’s time to say goodbye and move onwards and upwards, away from admin and into meetings and planning training week, and hopefully away from getting lost and towards finding our way. I’m not sure how frequent or reliable the internet will be where we’re headed, but no doubt my need to rant and write will overcome these minor difficulties and you shall all hear from me again soon. But for now, Sala Kahle!