Monday, July 25, 2011

After too much time passing without spending time together, Lumka invited me to a girls’ weekend that her sister was organizing in Butterworth.  On Friday afternoon we jumped on the crowded public taxi to eGcuwa (Butterworth).  I was glad they knew what they were doing-as we walked to the chaotic taxi rank, Lumka told me, “don’t ask questions, just do what I say and follow where I go”.  During the pushing and shoving to get on this van, I was lifted to the back and sandwiched in between Lumka, her sister, and her sister’s friend.  Before you knew it, we were off as the warnings about public transport on the N2 highway were ringing in my ear.  But the beauty of the slowly setting sun was over the rondavel-dotted hills and knowing I was leaving East London for a few days calmed my fears! 

At dusk, we were dropped off in the middle of the town at the incredibly crowded KFC and began walking towards Lumka’s aunt’s home.  It was good to actually get out of the car in town because I usually just drive through on the way to somewhere else.  I remember driving through Butterworth during our first week in South Africa and I couldn’t imagine ever walking through the hectic town, now it didn’t feel like such a foreign world!

The porkchops
Lumka and her sisters told me that their aunt was nervous about having a white guest in her house because of her limited English skills and I was nervous about making a good impression on her.  When she arrived, it became clear that neither of us was that scary.  She just got angry at Lumka for preparing umphokoqo as that was not a proper meal for company, so she pulled out a bag of giant pork chops which accompanied the maize porridge and sour milk.  Lumka acted as translator, but I was able to practice my Xhosa and I think I understood much of the girl talk!
Eating umphokoqo

The next morning was church—Lumka and her sisters are Adventists so their church service is on Saturdays.   As usual, we arrived late for church so all eyes were on us when we entered.  The sermon was in English, but I was mortified during the group classes when someone suggested that we speak in English because not everyone spoke Xhosa.  I appreciated her courtesy, but also feel uncomfortable when my presence disrupts normal activities!  But the service was full of singing and a ceremony at the end where we formed a circle and shook everyone’s hands.  Lumka and her sisters were laughing the entire time because I was the only of the entire congregation being pulled into big bear hugs.  Then, we were also able to use my “foreigness” to get a ride back home, after a tour through Butterworth and Msobomvu township.  The presence of a Canadian woman at her aunt’s house caused quite the stir-from getting a ride all the way to church in Msobomvu township (instead of being dropped at the taxi rank in town) to her aunt being stopped at the grocery store by the neighbours who were curious about the white girl eating KFC on her stoop to being asked in for tea by one of the church ladies! 
Saturday night cooking

The rest of the day was spent grocery shopping and sitting in the kitchen; preparing dinner but eating so much junk that we barely ate anything we cooked.  But I’ve got another recipe under my belt—chakalaka from scratch.  On Sunday morning Lumka convinced me that the meat in the pot left on the stove from the night before is even better and it’s true!

More meat (and Sunday's breakfast)
Lumka's trifle recipe
The ladies' weekend (with Lumka's aunt in the middle!)
Then it was time for all of us to leave Butterworth and head back to East London.  I had been told that I couldn’t leave the country without hitchhiking as it was a totally different culture than in North America. I barely slept that night, running through many possible scenarios of how it would turn out and wondering if I was getting too comfortable living here!  But we had Sis G’s approval so when Lumka’s aunt dropped us at the hiking spot with students returning to class, families returning home, and workers going back to the city, I held our sign showing where we wanted to go and felt excited and nervous.  But, apparently, it was not anyone’s lucky day to get back to East London so we hopped in another crowded public taxi to get back to East London.  So, still no complete hiking experience but at least a great weekend away!

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