July 2, 2013
I am homesick. I miss Seattle/American culture. I miss people who speak English with MY accent. I miss grocery stores with familiar products.
I got to go shopping today at a full blown grocery store here in Pretoria. It was amazing, and challenging. The last time I got to go and choose vegetables I was staying with a couple in Hollywood, California and the lady of the home took me with her to choose what I wanted her to cook with. Now, I am the first to admit that I do not love cooking, but I am ecstatic about the idea of chopping up onions and tomatoes and putting them in with eggs for an omelet or into spaghetti sauce or using the pancake mix that I bought to make pancakes….etc., etc. I have learned that in being deprived of a true supermarket experience and the ability and chose as to cook or not has created a true desire to do so. At least for this moment.
I went to buy cheese for the omelet. There was an entire wall filled with cheeses. Not to mention all the choices of bread, juice, yogurt. It is an overwhelming experience. I keep thinking about the oh-so-few choices we have in Malakal, in South Sudan and I want to weep for the people who may never have and may never at all taste a strawberry or a blueberry….they did not have blueberries today but I got strawberries and cabbage and a bunch of other delectable veggies….oh for the joy of color and taste!
The English vocabulary here is so different than the United States. I think it may even be more different than in South Sudan. It of course has a Dutch influence and South Sudan has an English (UK) influence and that may well be the biggest difference, but still even in the UK I needed a translator. I find myself wondering, whose English came first, theirs or mine???
I am in the new guest house now and am loving it so far. Huge bathroom, by guest house bathroom standards….a showerhead that not only spews hot water upon request but is also adjustable….this shower is an enclosed glass container, no too long shower curtain to confuse the holy heck out of me. I had to get directions for a second time on the tv in the room today, I am hoping that I might even get CNN or Al-Jazeera on it, although I don’t know what package the guest house has chosen to include for television.
This guest house reminds me quite a bit of the Mennonite Guest House in Nairobi. My room is in a kind of courtyard area that as far as I can tell I share with one other room. There is a planted area with lots of green plants and last night I noticed that things are well lit. I am realizing that although I probably would not choose to live my the rest of my life in one room (albeit spacious) and a bathroom, I do like the idea of the independence of my own space and yet having the community areas – i.e. the kitchen which I am allowed to cook in (sweet Jesus!), the nice settings of furniture in and around the main building (I am not in the main building) and the interior of the main building that includes a nice little living room; apparently that room is warm in the summer and right now, winter, is freezing cold.
Anyhow, the reason for the long explanation about the guest house is that I have sought out ideas for community living while having my own space and this seems to be a very good one. Do we have guesthouses in the US? I am not sure…or perhaps they are known by the name Bed and Breakfast.
Anyhow, I am in the midst of continuous culture shock, in the library using the excellent wifi to download from iTunes having copied material to work on at “home” for the next two days and realizing that I miss the culture that I know best. My own.