Monday we had a slow morning hanging out with Manny and with me learning how to shower and wash dishes in a city with little water. G-d it’s tricky.
I had already mastered not flushing the toilet every time I “ go”. I don’t mind the toilet flushing regiments: “if it’s yellow let it mellow....” especially at home when it’s just the two of us. For “number 2” or when pee in the toilet is getting ripe, we use a bucket of gray water.
Then there’s the shower. Turning water off and on when showering is not very satisfying; good thing it doesn’t ever get terribly cold here. Capetonians are asked not only to use water from the taps sparingly, but also to save the dirty water from showers (euphemistically referred to as “ gray water” but I call it yucky) to use for other purposes, like watering plants. I feel moderately better about this knowing Emma and I both use earth friendly shower and hair products.
None of that grosses me out. Well, not very much! It’s the dish washing I’m the most unhappy about, but that’s a subject for another entry. Too hard to describe when I’m so tired.
Back to the activities of the day. In the afternoon we \240went to Mr. Price in Diep River to get Emma some household things. I imagined it would be a SAfrican version of BedBathand Beyond and winners/Homesense and I was right. Not as “high quality” as we are used to but on the other hand, way less wasteful packaging. Sadly not very much that felt authentically African. Still, I knew I wasn’t “in Kansas” any more! But I’m getting ahead of myself!
Emma drove us to Mr Price on the main road through all the south suburbs instead of the highway. From the M3 I wouldn’t have been able to see the different neighbourhoods and landscapes. Suburbs here does not necessarily mean upper middle class, at least until you get farther out of the urban area.
The neighbourhoods change so quickly! Now I know why people told Emma there are bad streets in safe areas and safe streets in not so good areas!! In the less affluent neighbourhoods there is more noise (which is not necessarily a bad thing), amd people appearing from nowhere, darting in and out between the parked cars, and dodging around the moving ones! It’s so frustrating that I cannot take pictures when we are in the car. Cell phones need to be kept concealed, otherwise they may be grabbed right out of your hands.
Anyway, we found the store, and once inside we had some typical Emma/Mummy moments, oohing and ahhing over this and that. She had waited for me to arrive for decorating ideas to fill in some of the gaps in her house. Plus she needed things she hadn’t yet found, like throw pillows for her couch and some kitchen utensils.
I ended up buying her a lovely rattan chair that I didn’t think would work but backed off and she paid for the cushions that I liked but SHE didn’t think would work! We are learning as we get older!When we got them home it all worked beautifully!
I was pretty beat when we got to the car, but felt a little better when we arrived back to Emma’s house. Having said that, her parking situation is making me ill. For those who have not heard her describe the details, here goes. First of all, she has an electric gate that operates with a remote. The opening is not very wide, and the parking pad is only a bit longer than Emma’s car. She has learned how to get in and out to the best of her ability but the cards are stacked against her. How best to really describe it?
In the best case scenario she is left enough space on either side of her gate. Sometimes though, people park very close to it. Then there’s the gate itself, which does not open as wide as it could. Poorly designed to say the least. On top of that there is a poor excuse for a “ramp”which, in theory, is supposed to help you get over the curb (probably spelled “ kerb” here, as it is in the UK) and in to the parking pad. Unfortunately there is a cut-out in the middle of said ramp, so it does not impede the flow of water in the gutter; pretty funny given that Cape Town has so little water! If you are driving slowly to avoid hitting the gate or the front of the house, your tires can catch in the cut-out, sort of stopping you. Probably easier in an automatic, but in a stick shift it sometimes causes her to stall!
In addition to those challenges, the parking pad is not paved. When Emma moved in there were some paving stones but only in two straight rows for the tires. The ground is sand though, and if she doesn’t hit the pavers perfectly straight they shift, causing her tires to go \240crooked and further in to the sand. Then she gets kind of stuck and stalls!
One of her neighbours suggested taking the pavers away which has helped, but it leaves her with only sand on the ground below the tires, causing them to spin because there’s no traction!
With all of these challenges, Emma has persevered, getting better and better at navigating the obstacles. It remains a struggle though, and I find it painful watching her going at it, lining the car up, creeping forward, reversing to get a better angle, stalling at the crack in the “ ramp”, getting her car’s nose past the gate, only to have her wheels spin on the sand and stalling again.
I believe that creating a more even surface on the parking pad, like fresh gravel or rubber paving “stones” placed over the whole area is a possible solution. It won’t make the gate open wider, but that part she has gotten better at. Unfortunately Emma’s landlady refuses to pay for any parking area fixes because supposedly she herself has no difficulty parking her own car! While I am here I hope we can get prices on some potential solutions.
Next up- Jan 21st, part two
-why she didn’t pull her car in after shopping, and the consequences