So after working the entire weekend in the nursery, as well as playing with the older kids, we took the Monday off, as it was a holiday. We “slept in”, then Roberta and I headed to this aerobics class this guy (we call him Bandana guy, since we have no idea what his name is and he was wearing a bandana) was giving for the staff. It was pretty good, but kind of intense since it was 2 hours long!!! Some of the kids from the orphanage joined in for parts of it, which was fun. Afterwards, Bandana guy was chatting with us and he offered to show us how to walk to the mall, and to take us around Soweto, which was super nice! So we walked to Maponya mall (we love the mall, there is no internet at the orphanage, so the only wifi we have is the free 30 min a day we get at the mall!), and sat down for some wifi, with one of us buying a bottle of water, so we can use the table at the fast food place. We’re pretty serious about the wifi, as it’s only half an hour and it goes by quickly, so there is no talking during that time, just get ‘er done! At some point during the wifi time, I heard bandana guy asking something, and then he asked me something, which sounded like: Can you buy me an ice cream?, but I didn’t really pay much attention or answer, because we had told him it was quiet time.
Then we went for some lunch, which was fine and we enjoyed it, until near the end, when after talking about all the things we could visit with him in Soweto, Bandana guy asked: So what will you guys get me as a thank you? To which we were all pretty quiet and just like, uhhhhhh? So it was super awkward! And then we had to go grocery shopping, and we thought he’d head out, but no, he came grocery shopping with us, and walked us back to the orphanage (which we really didn’t need or want him to, since it’s literally almost a straight walk the entire way and not at all complicated and perfectly safe to walk during the day). Then he decided to come and hang out with us in our cottage (!!!) until he finally, finally left. And we were just like: What was that? We were very upset, as we thought he was just being friendly and nice and genuinely wanted to be friends which would have been great, but then he wanted a reward for his friendship and efforts. Now, I have absolutely no problem paying people for their services, (one of the drivers at the orphanage had offered to drive us places if we paid him, and that was totally cool), and if he had said at the beginning that he would be our tour guide for a fee, there would have been no problem, but don’t pretend to be my friend, and then ask me to buy stuff for you as a thank you. That’s not friendship. And what we hadn’t known at the time, and only found out once he’d left, is that he’d asked Roberta to buy him his lunch, which she did because she felt bad and didn’t know what to say. Needless to say, we haven’t taken him up on any other offers and try to avoid him as much as possible (which is actually quite difficult).
Anyway, after that not so great day off, the rest of our first week of volunteering went by quickly and we settled into a routine of getting up early, heading to the nursery for baths, then play time and breakfast time, then heading to the library in the afternoon to organize all the books that have been donated (the library isn’t open yet, the books need to be organized and they need a librarian), then having lunch and either heading back to the nursery to play with the children, or playing with the older children and helping them with their homework. Homework help consists of math or English, as we don’t speak or read Zulu, so we can’t really help them in anything else.
There is another volunteer from Germany/Turkey called Sammit (? or as Antoine calls him Samthing) who comes during the week, but he doesn’t stay at the orphanage like we do, although he does hang out in our cottage during breaks. He’s okay, I don’t care for him much, as the first day we met him, he made quite a few comments about the fact that I (gasp!) wanted to clean the cottage, which didn’t endear him to me at all.
On the Thursday, we started our day as usual, but after lunch Harry came and picked us up as we were heading to Kruger National Park early the next morning and it was easier for him if we were already at the hostel. It was kind of fun being at the hostel just the three of us. (It’s not a traditional hostel, they don’t take bookings outside of the volunteer groups and during the week where there is no orientation group, it functions as a normal office). Harry made this awesome pasta (which I could barely taste, since I was so stuffed up. The minute I walked into the hostel I started sneezing, which sucked, since I had been sick since I’d arrived and I was finally getting better), and we played our favourite songs and sang along and Harry introduced us to some South African music and we had a great time.
The next morning was not so fun, as we had to be up at 5am, to leave at 5:30, which, being on Africa time, meant we didn’t leave until 6am. Then we drove a few hours to Ukutula (a lion project) to pick up a group of volunteers. It was so fun to see them again and to hear all about their project (which made us super jealous, lol, since they were living the life of luxury, with wifi, room service, laundry service, showers, cooked meals, a bar and we had a tub with a bucket and cooked and cleaned for ourselves). From there we drove for a long time, then picked up another small group from our orientation and finally we drove to meet up with the van that would actually take us to Kruger. So we switched vans, and settled in for the 5 hour drive, napping and catching up on what we’ve been doing. It ended up being such a looooong day (for us at least, since we’d been in the van for 12 hours). But we finally arrive at Panzi Bush Camp, where we unpacked, had a wonderful meal, enjoyed free wifi, a bar, and a roaring fire complete with marshmallows to roast, so it was worth the long drive.
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