Tuesday, January 6, 2009

South Africa Journal pt 1

Drinking a cider, lying in bed typing this. Most of the other volunteers have gone to bed and i am the only one left still up aside from amy who says she's feeling unwell tonight and not able to sleep.

I fell asleep tonight immediately after supper, exhausted from the heat and the days work, and still recovering from the three days of airports and cramped airplane seats it took me just to get here.
Mabel, the volunteer Co-ordinator for crow met me at the Durban airport on monday morning. I have to say i was quite relieved, as her email correspondences have been very brief, and although it is mentioned on the website that she could meet volunteers at the airport, i was left feeling uncertain as to whether i should expect her or not.

After a quick tour of the rehab center and some brief introductions with the staff, i was sent to the guest house to unpack a few things and get settled in. I met Amy, one of the other volunteers and after the usual hello's and how are you's, was treated to a barrage of horror stories about the center. She's here from england for a year, earning a school credit in an animal behaviour program, been here since august. Almost immediately, she began to tell me how lucky i was to have arrived when i did. Apparently, only a few weeks before, the guest house had been a complete write off, filthy and in disrepair, and also infested with fleas and bed bugs. She assures me it has been completely fumigated, scrubbed and repainted, and a cleaning lady hired to help keep it tidy, but only after some volunteers had arrived and refused to stay in such poor living conditions. She told me that most of the recent volunteers had all left well before their sheduled departures, due to the working and living conditions.

i'm listening to her talk, exhausted, hearing all of this after a three day trek and no small personal cost to get here, and thinking: "Oh fuck. oh fuck. oh fuck oh fuck...." all the while a sickly feeling began to creep into my guts...and i'm replaying the half joking conversation i'd had with Richard about a week before leaving...about how I'd found the organisation on the internet so of COURSE i knew it was legitimate, because the internet never lies, never misleads. And how i'd joked about showing up at a what i expected to be a rehab center and being forced to make wallets in a sweatshop instead..."how was your vacation april?? What? no tan??"

and suddenly its not as funny.

And my cell phone doesn't work here. And there's no internet to get in touch with anyone.

tired and exhausted, I'm digging out my travel guide to figure out what the hell am i going to do if this all goes poorly?

where will i go? how much money do i have? where's the nearest phone? can i walk anywhere in this neighborhood? can i reschedule my plane ticket home if i need to? all of this running through my mind and on top of that the chanting chorus "fuck! fuck, FUCK!" acompanied by alarm bells and low grade trepidation.

And then, too tired to even bother with having a cry and determined not to panic, and that I'd find a way to manage, i curled up and fell asleep for the afternoon,

But not before i inspected my sheets for bedbugs and fleas.

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