Just a thought....
Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Little bug

No, I'm not talking about the arrival of the Conticker virus or whatever, though I'll be dealing with worms tomorrow, I'm sure (more red tape).

Two things reminded me of my mom today. Kippy blogged a similarity to her mom and Heather sent me a news article from a site that also sells these absolutely brilliant South African t-shirts. I shamefully pinched this photo from the site. Hopefully I'll be forgiven on the grounds of advertising for them.


My mom, Annatjie (we add the 'tjie' onto the end of names to create a diminutive), would call me Gogga or Goggatjie - 'little bug'. She never had much to say to me, but she'd tickle me whenever she saw me. I am extreeeemely ticklish, or I was. I have learnt to control it, much to Tatiana's disgust. I remember her laugh too. There are times when I laugh and I catch myself mid-laugh, thinking... Omg... that sounded like my mom. Not the actual laugh, but a certain quality to the laugh. I can't explain it. Certain facial expressions are hers too.

My mom is old now, confined to a wheelchair after a fall. She has Parkinson's. I never knew anyone with Parkinson's until I heard that. Apparently, she's as feisty as ever though. She's

I was looking for a photo of my mom. It seems I don't have one scanned in. I need to sift through my old photo box again.


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Friday, 20 March 2009

March Madness

pp-strange green


March is a Month
Of Madness and Mirth
A world gone tippy
waiting for spring
and autumn
depending, of course
if you're up or down

Strange things I find
outside my back door
A wet world of green
an alien landscape

March is crazy
with Leprechauns
and green rivers

I love this green
irresistible month!
Don't you?


Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Wonderfullest day

My birthday started last night. While I was waiting for Tatiana to come home, I got a awesome gift from Kippy and Jeremy... an Amazon gift voucher. Thanks guys! Seriously... I was like a kid in a candy store. Talk about quandary. I have no clue what to spend it on and created a wish list especially, so that I can continue browsing later. Then Katey did a blog that had me in tears and smiles. On her blog (I hope you don't mind, Katey), she posted a poem which was beautiful, but the waterworks started when she described who we'd spend my day. The day would be spent (entirely in our very vivid imaginations), in and around Durban, the city we both hail from. This is the poem:

By Edward Morykwas
One drop of time turns into a river
That carries you down to the infinite sea.
And it sings as it splashes in glorious sunshine,
"Come be a sailor, a sailor with me."

From your very first step, you've heard its voice calling
Smoother than music, sweeter than rhyme.
With every new birthday, your life's great adventure
Is sailing the uncharted river of time.

So set your own course and make your own choices--
To love, to grow, to discover, to dance.
With God as your guide, show your courage and pride,
You won't ever know if you don't take a chance!

Today is a treasure not to be wasted,
Even the richest millionaire knows that it's true.
Time is a stealer but it's also a healer.
Hang onto your dreams because they'll pull you through.

Many years from now, when your traveling ends
And your hair is gradually turning to gray,
You will smile at your circle of family and friends,
Then in a soft voice, you'll hear yourself say:

        The secret of life
        Is to never quit living.
        What's around the next bend,
        No one can tell.
        When things get rough
        And you're surrounded by trouble,
        Just head for the future
        And paddle like hell...

One drop of time turns into a river
That carries you down to the infinite sea.
And it sings as it splashes in glorious sunshine,
"Come be a sailor, a sailor with me."

I woke up to my morning coffee and the smell of baking. Tatiana, who went to bed really late and totally exhausted, woke up early to make my favourite chocolate squares and write a birthday blog for me! She then gave me my birthday gift, a Kippy print! Not just any Kippy print, but the snowman!

My family knew that the snowman would be something that would make me smile every time I see it. Poor Tatiana had to conquer Mt Everest (almost) to get it. Yesterday it rained... boy, did it rain. Tat went in to do a recording session, and from there, she went to collect the print, which Jorge had ordered a few days ago.

We live on a hill. Around us is, essentially, valley then, which turns our situation into something resembling a castle with a moat... or an island (island is probably more realistic). This photo was from one of our 'moat' neighbourhoods:

This video was on our news site:

For those who can't view the video, there are photos here. That was what Tatiana had to come home in. She arrived home at about 11pm. The bus was sardine-can full, with people standing 3 deep. Ah... the lengths she went to to get my birthday gift!! And this morning, she got up before me to bake the chocolate squares too!

It has been lovely wading through all the birthday wishes. You're all soo...... *smiles* Wonderful! Thank you everyone!! I still need to get through a few. I have just spent a... uh... delightful hour or so at the bank, so I'm a little behind, but I'll get around to them all : )


Sunday, 15 March 2009

** Seffies take note! **

I just got this via my contact with the Dept. of Foreign Affairs : )

Just in case you are interested in voting and were not aware that we can now vote whilst living abroad.

Please note... To check if one is registered, one needs to go to:



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Saturday, 14 March 2009

A smile to my day


I'm totally bushed, but wanted to quickly share...

This morning, our CPF (tax card) run went perfectly smoothly! I now believe in miracles. We then made our way across the center of town, the same area where we were robbed that last time. We decided to cut through the underground. While down there, I stopped and asked the Metro police for the most direct route to our destination. They were wonderful, directing us very precisely, with street names. They then proceeded to give us the usual warnings about security and how to avoid the 'hot spots'. Then the one said, "I hope you don't mind me asking, but where are you from?" When we told him, he said, "Então, seja bem vindas!" or "Welcome." That was so sweet. It is very rare for us to experience that. At least, we haven't had that so far. He made us smile. That smile carried through to the rest of the day. We thanked them profusely for their kindness. There were three of them. I hope they know what a difference they made to our day today.


Friday, 13 March 2009

All wired up

Jorge and Tatiana went into the co-op this morning to sign her up there as a teacher (they got lost... again. That place is impossible). I was moseying around inside, doing some paperwork and cleaning up when I heard a truck idling outside our window. I went to look and found a whole string of trucks, not quite a convoy, but way too many for our little road. Needless to say, when I saw they were working for Electropaulo, our electricity company, I got a little nervous. I was right.

We spent the day without power... again.

Electropaulo - 2572

I thought, at first, that they were simply here to, for once and for all, repair the street light out front, but I couldn't understand why they'd need so many trucks for that. I learned later that they were replacing the old wiring and that they are not responsible for street lights. That was another division's baby.

They started dismantling the posts... totally. Here, he is passing down a fuse.

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Those fuses are big! When that blows, it really blows, I'd say. The garbage bag? That was recycling that someone put out. Thursday morning the recycling truck comes past. Needless to say, their task was made a little more challenging today.

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While I was snapping away (I took loads of photos), one worker approached me and asked me what I was doing. I explained that I am a photographer and that these photos are simply because the process is interesting and not to worry, I'm not a journalist. He said, "So you're not from Electropaulo?" It turns out that they thought I was a spy for the company, as they were contract workers. I was happy to assure him that the photos were for personal use. Blogging is personal, right?

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Earthing is a huge problem in this country. Nothing is earthed! Before starting work, they drove this corkscrew thing into the ground at regular intervals. It is made of brass, so acts as earthing. Fascinating. I wish I had a photo of it before they started screwing it into the ground.

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On their perches all the way down the road. Our whole road was 'blocked off' and a few side streets too.

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Hm... 'blocked off' wasn't quite the right term. They left room for cars... barely. This narrow road is usually a two-way street. Today, it became a one-way. Trouble is, no one knew that and there was no one to control the flow of traffic. Our normally busy traffic was now a busy traffic jam.

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Huge nail clippers? I really didn't envy these guys their job. They have to wear long sleeved, heavy duty fabrics regardless of weather. Today was pretty warm and very muggy.

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Those wooden cross beams were coming down, along with any old metal work.

Electropaulo - 2608

Did I mention we had traffic problems? This road carries a lot of trucks as well as cars. It was fun to watch them nervously inching along where they'd usually roar along (speed limits here are a joke). See the side walk on the left? That is the reason I won't be taking up walking or jogging in the neighbourhood in any hurry. What you see there is pretty much what you get. That cable hanging down is hanging from the roof of the car port.

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There were more spectators. This guy belongs to the pub owner. He spends his days up there. Apparently it is quite roomy. I would like to bet that he badly wanted to be downstairs where the action was.

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Our dogs loved all the action. They got so much barking in!

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.... and wagging of tails. Dingo (on the left) only barks at dogs... and wags her tail... hyper-speed. Romany (on the right) is laid back and quite happy to bark... until someone gets too close.

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Tonight, when I was preparing to go out and teach, our usually quiet neighbours set up a caterwauling.... some sort of very loud religious... uh... experience. That was a first. I hope it was also the last. I'm all for freedom of religion, but not at the expense of my ears and sanity 0.o


Tomorrow, I'll be out all day. I teach the before-work run, then Tat and I are going into town to sort out her CPF, after which we'll hang around town, as she has a recording in the late afternoon. There's no point in busing home only to have to go back into town again.

Sunday, 08 March 2009

Interview with my offspring

I filched this interview from Sandy whose kids gave the most adorable answers. Naturally, my kidlet is a little more 'growed up' (19), so her answers will have a somewhat different twist.

tatiana corrianne new year 2008-9_2342

1. What is something Mom always says to you? "Brat!" or "Noob!"

2. What makes Mom happy? When the chores get done without her having to argue about it or supper gets done for her.

3. What makes Mom sad? Arguing (for the most part)

4. How does Mom make you laugh? Being herself (she's very funny when she wants to be)

5. What was Mom like as a child? I didn't know her back then  ... But if she was anything like me.... *cough, cough*

6. How old is Mom? 41

7. How tall is Mom? 1.75m (5'7")

8. What is Mom's favorite thing to do? Blog, chat, take photos and laugh, I think...

9. What does Mom do when you're not around? How'm I supposed to know if I'm not around?? O.O Sneak chocolate? LOL

10. If Mom becomes famous, what will it be for? Writing (she's an awesome writer) or photography

11. What is Mom really good at? Just about anything she turns her hand to, especially writing, English and being really creative though.

12. What is Mom not very good at? I can't think of anything off the top of my head...

13. What does Mom do for her job? She's a mom (sorry, I hog her ;P). Photo restoration, photographer and English teacher.

14. What is Mom's favorite food? I'm not sure... She's a bit like me... If it's yummy and on my plate, I'll eat it! ... Does chocolate count?

15. What makes you proud of Mom? The fact that she's not afraid to be herself. She's brave, unique and everything she does, she pours all her efforts into it. Nothing is left half-done.

16. If Mom were a cartoon character, who would she be? They haven't made one *quite* like her yet

17. What do you and Mom do together? EVERYTHING!!! ... And I wouldn't change that for the world =D

18. How are you and Mom the same? We have similar opinions and tastes on just about everything, we even look alike! People always ask if we're sisters.

19. How are you and Mom different? She's more mature and level-headed than I am. I'm more explosive and slightly violent, while mom doesn't like violence at all.

20. How do you know Mom loves you? She shows it in a million different ways, big and small, but mostly because she tolerates me when I give her sh*t and still hugs me after I've been annoying and crabby all day.

21. Where is Mom's favorite place to go? PARATY!!  Which is incidentally my favourite too.

22. Where does Mom not like to go? Ummm.... She doesn't enjoy being in a big city. She doesn't like being in stuffy places or banks.

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Wasteful 'art'

What a wasteful society we are! I received this in my e-mail. Download the PowerPoint show here. The PowerPoint show is well worth watching. It is a large file to download, just over 4mb. You will need to download Microsoft's free PowerPoint viewer if you don't already have it.

Do you recycle? We drink filtered water here, reusing a few bottles we have. I use glass bottles, my personal preference (besides, that keeps the water cold for longer). Rechargeable batteries go a long way towards diminishing battery waste. Smoking? Blegh. Not here, thank goodness. Plastic packets are a problem, though we collect those to use as garbage bags. I suppose I should go back to using my basket, but I usually shop after teaching and carrying the large basket to classes is... well... a little odd. Bears thinking about though. The plastic cups gave food for thought. I think I'll take a bottle with me to work where they use those plastic cups.

I know my efforts are a drop in the ocean, but if we are all more aware... ?

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Friday, 06 March 2009

Adventures and strange fruits

Today is Friday and thus Picture Perfect, the theme being "Black and White". It is also the 6th and Dani's photo of the month, where we show a photo that represents the month gone by. To avoid multiple posts, I wanted to combine the two 'events'. I'll be breaking the rules for both events, though, as this blog will take more than just one photo, so bear with me.

This month has been a month of many changes and challenges or adventures in both work and our personal lives, which is why I have chosen the photo of the jackfruit or jaca to represent the month. The black and white version here looks somewhat otherworldly... Would you eat it?


To be fair, here is the colour version. Looks more fruity : )


A very strange fruit, right? The jackfruit pulp tastes like a mixture of banana and pineapple. When we first saw it here, I was put off by the consistency which is... uh... to be polite... unappetising. This month, one of the houses being sold, through the estate agency Tat was working for, had a jackfruit tree, so the agent picked the fruit and distributed it at work. These trees are enormous! Actually, the fruit is enormous. Apparently, the huge seeds can be roasted and taste like chestnuts.

The fruit is large and took a lot of effort to cut open. I thought it would be softer. I now suspect that our fruit was very unripe.


The big butcher's knife struggled through it. The fruit started oozing a very sticky substance, which set into a extraordinarily stubborn glue. No chemicals would remove it from the knife. The 'glue' was eventually scraped of the hard way. The fruit itself stuck to our fingers when we tried to touch it. We were sure this was not what it was meant to be like.


It definitely didn't look the way it looks when the street vendors sell it, soft and squishy. This photo of the vendor will give you an idea of the size of the fruit. The 'pods' inside are also visible here. Our fruit had no 'pods' and few seeds.

jackfruit 003

Let's just say that was one adventure which went a little awry. Will we try jackfruit again? I don't know. Would you?


Wednesday, 04 March 2009

Life and bureaucracy


Last night, I got to the school to find our director in tears. Earlier, she had mentioned that her friend was in hospital and she wanted to visit him, but was worried about being caught in the rain. To get to the hospital, one has to drive through a low lying area that always floods. She ended up going, but was told he had about 72 hours to live. He is apparently an ex-boyfriend of hers from 3 years ago and the relationship was unresolved. Now he has cancer and has contracted pneumonia. She was understandably very shook up. While I was with her, she asked me to take over for her today. Thankfully, she just meant the classes, not the admin, so I'll be teaching this afternoon and night. It was meant to be a day off. Tat teaches tonight too. Timing should be fun.

One of the documents we're required to carry here is our CPF. Don't ask me exactly what it is. I just know it has something to do with tax. Tat and I got our CPF cards shortly before they changed some tax law. All who have those cards have had their cards blocked and need to apply to reactivate them, so they fall in with this new law... or something to that effect. Yes, I know this is vague, but bureaucracy is pretty vague too, right? Oh, and naturally, we have to pay to have the card 'unlocked'.

Tat's CPF is a little complicated now because her Brazilian ID card has expired, now that she is of age, and she needs to either swear in as a Brazilian or get a permanent residency card, like the one I carry. I have the card, so it should be easy. I wish!

I went into the bank this morning. Now banks freak me out in general. I avoid them where I can. Here, we have to go through a revolving door that doesn't allow metal. You put your keys, cell phone, etc into a perspex container, then step back, wait for the door to 'reset', and go through. Once through, you can collect your belongings again.

So I try to go through. The door jams. I go to put my keys in the perspex container, but see that it is locked. I gesture to the security guard on the other side. He keeps telling me to put my keys in. I show him that I can't. He tells me I can. I get frustrated and start muttering and gesturing more. At this time, a smart-aleck behind Jorge starts telling me in English to calm down, which pushed my blood pressure over the limit. Eventually, the security guard gets the point and comes to release the container. I put the keys in... then the cell phone. I was carrying a tiny bag which just holds my purse, so I figured I'd just put the whole thing in. He says, no... not the bag, but I struggled to get the bag out from 'outside'. I can sense the impatience of the people behind me and the idiot still telling me to calm down. I finally got through. Have I mentioned that I hate those doors?

Then it was Jorge's turn. He put his keys in. Blocked. He put his wallet in. Blocked. He put his belt in eventually and was still blocked. I could see him tensing up. I knew he had his pocket knife on him, but that is always a touchy thing here. So he put his knife in, trying to be circumspect about it. The security guard saw and said, Aha! That is the problem. He stepped forward and said, "I'll keep that until you're finished here," at which point Jorge exploded. They started, through the doors, a battle of cursing. Picture Merlin's epic fight with Madam Mim. Thankfully they stopped before the purple pox curse. The security guard insisted that Jorge was 'armed' and Jorge insisted the guy was being an idiot. In the end, they locked the knife up while we were in the bank.

The law as far as 'arms' go is that you can carry a pocket knife as long as it is no bigger than 4 fingers wide. Now this, to me, is a totally stupid law. What 4 fingers?? My own pocket knife, a little Swiss army knife is barely smaller than my 4 fingers, but drowns in Jorge's hand. I have small hands. Jorge's knife is neatly 4 of his fingers long, but Jorge doesn't have hands. He has spades. The security guard had what we call ladies' hands. The knife looked huge in his hands.

We eventually got into the bank. In a matter of moments, I was talking to the lady at the desk. Their systems were down, so she couldn't help me. What? After all that? Would I mind coming back later. Ok. No problem. I have all the time in the world. I needed to go to the supermarket anyway. I returned after over an hour (there was a giganormous queue at the meat counter) only to be told their systems were still down and why don't I try the post office, at which point I thought, "Yay! Should have done that in the first place! No revolting doors." I tootled across the road to the post office, breezed through the process... and then...


"To liberate your CPF, you need to go to the tax offices, as you are a foreigner." Omg! At this point, I wanted to find a corner to huddle in, clutching my security blanket and sucking my thumb.

In short, I need to have a bank account to get my pay. To get a bank account, I need to have my CPF cleared. Pay day is in 5 days time. I have no clue when I will be able to go into town between now and then to clear that card.

The donkeys at the top? Cute, aren't they? I like donkeys (in case you haven't noticed). Here, 'bureaucracy' is written 'burocracia'. Now 'burro' is 'donkey', so they play on the sound of the 'burrocracia'.

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Tuesday, 03 March 2009

Forget it

I'm done whining. I know the rest of the world has it worse than us. I know that we are incredibly lucky. I tend to just type what I'm thinking at the time. Ok, so my thoughts needed a revision... a reminder that minor discomfort is just that... minor. Yes, made that last blog private. This is, after all, my personal journal too, so I won't delete it.
We are incredibly lucky. I mean, we don't have snow. We don't have cold. We're working (oh yes, I know how very lucky we are with that). I have delicious cold water I can drink (as long as I don't forget it out the fridge.... bath water doesn't taste good). I have amazing friends who take gorgeous snow photos that cool me down (imagination is a wonderful thing).
Can anyone tell me why the spell checker doesn't recognise contractions? Weird.


There... some pretty flowers for you : )

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You know it's bad when...

(Image from BBC News)

Usually, when we feel the heat, the locals are still breezing along. If you go outside, there are few cars on the road. Being outside is now a case of 'only if really necessary'. The streets are empty(ish). The locals that are out are huddled in patches of shade and walking with umbrellas. Everyone is complaining. The cat is lying spread out at the base of the fan. Our temps have been in the 30's (°C). That would be the 90's (°F), I think. The humidity makes the temperature, according to the weather station, feel like 40°C... around 100°F. I think that is what Jorge said - he found it in the news. I may have the numbers wrong, but trust me, it doesn't feel like an exaggeration.

This cartoon comes from esquire.com. Their suggestion for coping with the heat? 

"Move at half speed.
When bicycling, pedal so slowly, you can barely stay upright. When walking, shuffle your feet. When typing, omit vowels."

Shall I try it? I'm wilting. The shuffling of feet and doing things slowly is a no-brainer. It's too hot to do anything with any energy.

Apparently, we're heading into rainy, stormy weather. Wonderful! Have I mentioned lately that I can't wait for winter?

We've been fairly busy this end. Tatiana has been working all day, teaching on Saturday and in the evening and having recording sessions. I've just been keeping up my regular (uh hmm...) schedule of all-hours-of-the-day classes, coming home in between to catch up here, then going out again. Jorge has, fortunately, been getting some translation work in. Other than that, there isn't much to report from this end. It's bad when the most exciting thing you have to talk about is how hot it is....
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