Yesterday was quite a discombobulating day. We had 2 hours of Xhosa in the morning then had a boring lecture for another two. We were finally given our readings for the next couple of weeks,so it's nice to actually have things to do in the evening. I met with Shane,our Academic Advisor, for about 5 minutes. We have to do a term paper in the next couple of weeks so we talked about my topic, which will most likely be the construction of South African women's self identity & image of beauty as connected to and developed by the media. (whoa,that was a horrible sentence,sorry.)I'm excited about doing the research for it,which will include observations on the street and talking to South Africans.
In the afternoon we had our Xhosa tutorial which so far,has been the most useless 2 hours of our time here. Our tutor,Mandla (meaning power. Like Amandla, the movie...and the ANC chant) rambles on about Lincoln & Kennedy & other random things,so we never know what he's talking about...anyway,after that we had a session to talk about the "norms" of our group here. It was pretty crazy and I ended up facilitating the session. I thought the whole time was sort of useless/annoying,but other people seemed to enjoy it and I had fun facilitating. It really made me miss organizing. The biggest argument among people here about our rules are if someone wants to go home with someone not in our group after going out,is it their friend's responsibility to stop them,or the person's own decision. Lots of fuss over that small thing.
Anyway...I went to bed really early last night because I was exhausted and I guess I'd eaten too much wheat during the day - my tummy wasn't feeling great. I got 9 hours of sleep! I woke up to find out that my little Sisi (sister) was sick all night and nobody got any sleep. And the taxis are all on strike here so my older Sisi couldn't go to work. If you're wondering,the taxis are on strike for 3 days because SA is going to build a public bus system next year for the FIFA World Cup and the taxis are worried they will all lose their jobs. Taxis(also called minibuses) are the main source of transportation for black South Africans.
Today we had our Xhosa lesson at a school in Langa(the township we're staying in) and we finally learned the clicks, two of which are easy. The third I'm still having some troubles with,but I'll have Mama help me tonight. We spent a better part of the day walking around Langa on a tour,which was really interesting. There are 4 main areas of the township: the very old area from 1915, the "Beverly Hills of Langa", the area I live in and Joe Slovo,which is the squatter area. The houses in the Beverly Hills look like old houses from Connecticut in the 1950s. The "houses" in Joe Slovo are literally shacks made of corrogated tin,about 10ft by 10ft for families of 5-10. There are 4 or 5 communal toilets(you do your business in a bucket that is removed twice a week) and taps,and the electricity is spliced from other neighborhoods. There is a great deal of malcontent among many SA here because of these squatter camps. They do not pay for any city utilities,yet they are on city owned land,so many people want them to leave,or to move to the new houses that the city has built. It's an interesting dynamic that I really want to learn more about.
Ok,that's about all I've got at the moment. I feel like I'm writing way too much...
ps.Oh,if you were wondering,I managed to find a pair of running shoes yesterday so the shoe dilema has been solved! :)