Going home

It has been awhile since I wrote, but not a lot has happened. I had been in lockdown for almost 10 weeks when I had decided to take advantage of the repatriation flights that were offered. They were expensive and a logistic nightmare as I had to get from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town to catch the flight. However, we were till in lockdown level 4 and it didn’t seem as though things were changing anytime soon, so I decided to cut my losses and head home.

On May 7, I received a note from the Canadian Embassy that South African Airlines was offering a flight. I decided I was going to get on this one, but then they wanted a wire transfer and that is when things got complicated. The only way they would accept payment was through an EFT (Electronic Bank Transfer) and into a South African bank account or a US bank account. Being a Canadian citizen I had neither of those and could not transfer the money like that. A very nice new friend of mine offered to help me, but she said it was suspicious and I decided not to take the flight. As she said, this would not be my last opportunity and maybe wait and see how things go over the next couple of week. Maybe things would improve? Besides I was not having a bad time with my new friends on our camino hikes in the mornings so was not too upset.

She was right, on May 16 the embassy sent me an email saying there was a flight on Ethiopian Airlines and they would take credit card. I decided to take the flight and head home. She also put me in touch with another Canadian trying to get home from PE.

I did not hear from Ethiopian airlines for days so assumed the flight was not going or that I was not on it. I had contacted the other Canadian who was actually South African but lived in TO for 30 years and she said she would drive to Cape Town. I continued my week of camino hikes assuming I was not leaving. Our hikes were coming to an end as we were almost at the finish line. Tuesday was our last camino hike.

On Saturday, I still had not heard back and again assumed I was not on the flight. Then I get an email from Ethopian Airlines and there was room for me on the flight. SO, I decided to take the flight and was ready for another adventure. Ros , the other Canadian I had met had told me she was already going to Cape Town to stay with her brother. She had decided not to take the flight and wait for the British Airlines flight that was coming next week. So, on Wednesday I started packing, told Marina I was leaving and then told my landlords, June and Stephen. It was a bit of a shock for everyone (including myself). I was not entirely sure about my decision, but had already paid Ethopian airlines and decided it was for the best.

The Journey to Cape Town

I got up this morning at 6 am and did my last minute packing. Wow, it is crazy that I am leaving! It was bound to come to an end, but I did not necessarily think this way! Anyways, life is full of surprises! You never know when a pandemic is going to happen!

Ros picked me up at 7:30 am, I said my good byes and off we went to pick up the rental car. Of course, when we got to the rental car shop, they would not take her credit card because they needed to do a security check. An hour and half later we were off to Cape Town after Ros’s mom ended up putting it on her credit card. It was a whirl wind trip of the garden route-the route that Devon and I were supposed to see slowly over 2 weeks. Instead we drive there in the morning and arrived in the morning with one stop in a little place called the Wilderness where we stopped at Ross’s friends for homemade scones. On our way we came to a few check stops-in South Africa you can not travel to another province without a permit and that we did have since we are taking a price triple the cost back to Canada.

 

 

She was right, on May

I was in South Africa for almost 2 months when Covid-19 reared its ugly head. My first and last opportunity to go overseas on a study abroad or rather a research abroad was cut short when South Africa went into lockdown on March 26, 20. The lockdown in South Africa was quite strict in comparison to other countries. No cigarettes or booze was allowed, no exercising and no socializing at all. Basically, you could only leave your house for essential supplies which included groceries or the doctor.

On April 9, Ramaphosa extended the lockdown until the end of April. During this time, I was lucky to have a backyard, a pool and a patio and a nice neighbour to chat too.

 

 

 

Cape Town during COVID-19

WE made it to Cape Town at about 8 pm after a whirlwind 10 hour drive, with a stop to get fuel, a stop for scones and another stop for data. a friend I had met in Durban at the SAERA conference had offered to let me stay at her place the night before my repatration flight back to Canada.

She picked me up at the fuel station as promised and her and her friend took me on a evening drive of Cape Town and then dropped me off at her apartment for the night. She was spending the evening at her parents place as this was where she was spending her lockdown. She had ordered me some chicken tandori and rice before so I had something to eat before turning in. Jackie and Lorna picked me up in the moring at 7: 00 am to take me on a tour of Cape Town before dropping me off at the stadium to take my flight. I had mixed feelings that day- part of me wanted to stay, although I knew it was not getting better. I thought maybe I could wait it out and perhaps all I needed was a change of scenery. Regardless, I had already booked my flight and would be leaving at 9 am to Ethiopia, Dublin, Washington and then Calgary. I would leave on Friday, May 22 and arrive on Sunday, May 24 with one stop overnight in Washington D.C.

It was crowded at the stadium. There were more people than I thought heading home. I almost felt as though I was on an excursion. Well, I guess I was in a way. We met Ross and her friends at the stadium to take buses to the airport. It was interesting to see some people taking this pandemic very seriousily by wearing hasmats suits and others not taking any precautions. After what seemed like hours we finally boarded the buses the Cape Town airport, of course after being screened for Covid.

The airport was empty except for us. It was quite surreal. We finally boarded the plane at 12:00 pm and headed to Ethopia where we would stop for a couple of hours. Good-bye Cape town, I only saw you for a short while but I will be back.

Washington D.C. Covid

We made it into Washington D.C. a bit early after a long flight from Cape Town to Ethiopia, Dubin (just to get equipment and then to D.C.  We arrived at-8:30. My new friend Ross was determined to get the flight to Toronto but Air Canada wouldn’t let her on. They wouldn’t let me on either because we had booked the next day flight. My travel agent had said that I would miss the connection and had booked me a hotel in D.C. I was not too disappointed as I knew I would be spending 14 days in quarantine at home. So, finally we took a taxi to the hotel and checked into the hotel.

The airport was dead as was the hotel. It is interesting to see how this pandemic has shut down the world. I checked into the hotel and tried to sleep and couldn’t so I went for a walk around the neighbourhood. Our hotel was called Hyatt Chantilly-a nice hotel with a very comfortable bed about 10 minutes from the airport. I found out some sad news about an old friend who had a heart attack and passed away so really needed to go for a walk. It was weird to see the houses without gates around them like in South Africa. The hotel was near a few restaurants who were offering take away. Later I went bakc to the hotel and Ross and I met at 5 pm to go for dinner. I found a Malaysian restaurant and got the fish and rice and she went to the Mexican restaurant for a salad and of course we had Sangaria. We took a walk and found a nice grassy area to have a picnic-right by a private pool which I had walked by earlier. It was dead just like everything else. Tomorrow is our last leg of long journey home.

Day 44 Covid Camino in PE

Well, today it is day 44 of the lockdown in PE. I am still here in Port Elizabeth or PE as the locals call it. Today was a bit different when I received a message from my friend Avie who mentioned they were going on a Camino walk to replicate the walk that Naydene and Alette who would have been in right now in Spain.

So, I ran down to the Something Good parking lot from my flat in Admiralty waay and met them to go on the hike. It was Avie, Medi, Alette, Nadine and a friend of theirs

“The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.”

“The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.”

“The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.”

We set off to hike the PE Covid Camino!

PE during a Covid 19 lockdown

I am still in Port Elizabeth on Day xx of the lockdown. Ramaphosa (the president) announced the lockdown on March 26 in which I had been in PE for almost 2 months and was just getting into my research and was planning to conduct workshops. The COVID 19 stopped my plans in their tracks and instead of conducting workshops, seeing the sights and getting ready to see the Garden route with my boyfriend, Devon in May, I was forced into isolation. By the time I tried to get a flight out, there were none to be had so I was stuck in PE. There were certainty worse places to be stuck. My accommodation was what they called a bedsitter off the main house, 10 minutes from the university and 10 minutes from the beach and 10 minutes form the shops. I really couldn’t have been in a better place. The first 21 days were what they called a hard lock down and it was indeed a hard lockdown. The government did not allow anyone to go out except for groceries or the doctor. So, my exercise was running around the backyard, doing jumping jacks, sit ups and swimming in the pool when it was nice enough. People certainty had it worse off from me. There were people that were starving, couldn’t work and those who were more fortunate but lived in apartments so they couldn’t go outside to exercise.

However, fortunately I did have enough money and work to do. My nice neighbour, a lady in her 70’s was a widow who had lost her husband 6 years ago. She talked fondly of her children and grandchildren. She landed in this flat . The owners, June and Stephen were the mother and father of her son’s wife and they shared grandchildren together.

She would have a wiskey every evening at 5 or earlier and I would sit with her on the patio and have a cider or a glass of wine.

Day 24: Lockdown in PE

It is now day 24 of the lockdown-Sunday. I am still in PE at my place. As I sit here, it is 32 degrees here and there is not a lot happening. I went out for my weekly Sunday walk to Pick n Pay this morning. The streets were quiet and it was actually quite peaceful. I took my usual route by the university, by the Church on the Way which I would have been going to this morning had it not being a lockdown in the midst of COVID-19.

I arrived at Pick N Pay, ready to shop as quick as I could. I had my list with my and wanted to go in and out. I started off at Clicks and bought the corn chips that I like-TWIG (name). At least ehy are portioned and I do not overeat! I also bought some ZINC as Marina has said this is good for you to take.

Then it was into pick n pay to get my grocieries. I picked up some groceries and found the frozen fish. CAn you believe I have been in PE For almost 3 months and had not seen it there. I had assumed that you could only get it at the harbour. the thigns you learn while been in lockdown.

I got up to the front and my visa did not work. I tried both visas and had forgotten my bank card! So, after all that I wnt to the bank machine and tried to use my visa, but it was expensive to take out money! So, I decided I would leave the groceries and come back! It will give me another excuse to walk, although I won’t be able to make the curry this evening!

Day 18: Lockdown in PE

Easter Sunday

 

Easter Sunday:

Going out attire for a lockdown in PE> this was Sunday, Day 18 of the lockdown. I had decided to go for my big day out to the grocery store. I wanted to make sure that I was prepared and my face was covered. Since I did not have a proper mask, I took Nozie’s advice and wore my plane eye mask and my scarf. COVID-19 I am ready. You will not get in!

I

Lockdown in Port Elizabeth, South Africa-Day 3

Well I have been in Port Elizabeth, South Africa for 2 months now. I arrived on January 30. I didn’t know that I would be in a lockdown 2 months from when I arrived. The Corona Virus or COVID-19 as we know it now as has taken over the world, people’s health and the economies. I just pray that everything will be alright.

I thought it would be alright and things would get better until the president Cyril Ramaphosa announced that there would be a 21 day lockdown. By then it was too late for me to leave so here I sit in my flat waiting for the lockdown to finish. I am actually not that bored as I have a lot to do and maybe sitting and working on my dissertation prepared me for social isolation. Maybe growing up on a farm also prepared me as I was alone a lot of the time.

Today, is day 3 of the lockdown and I did venture out of my flat to go to the Spar store down the roads. The streets were dead. I was expecting to see the military and police, but I saw noone. When I arrived at Spar I was also expecting to see a line up, but hardly any people were there at all. They took my temperature at the door which was a normal 35.5 and then sprayed my hand with hand sanitizer. It didn’t feel much like a lockdown as I had been reading on the media, but I wonder if it will be different at Pick n Pay at Summerstrand Village. I may head there tomorrow to see the status and to at least get a bit of a walk in.

Spar-Shopping Centre near my place in PE during Lockdown-Day 3
The walk to Spar on Day 3 of lockdown- the streets are dead but no police on this street
My place during lockdown. It could be worse. At least there is a pool and a backyard
My flat in PE-where I will be for the next 21 days

Xhosa

I learned that 51% of students speak Xhosa in the post secondary institution of Nelson Mandela. I had taken my lunch break and walked over to the north campus and walked up the teaching and learning centre. A prof by the name of… teaches languages and told me it is a problem that the main language is English that is taught as most people speak Xhosa. How are students supposed to learn when they are expected to write and speak in their second language-English. This is something to think about and question why English is the main language taught. It is the dominant language? Is it looked at as the main language, the superior language. Interestingly, I met a guy at church who brought up that he spoke Xhosa as his main language. HE asked me why people from their own cultural backgrounds tend to hang out together. IT is interesting as this seems to be a similar problem here. I told him people do the same at home (eg. China town).

I hope to teach a workshop at the teaching and learning centre. Glory had a good point. She said remember your context. You are now presenting to a different audience. I have to remember this, a Global South no North. I have reflected on myself who is a researcher from the Global North, Canada. Will students see my perspective as more superior than them? I have to remember not to come off looking as though I know everything. I could learn a lot from those from the Global South.

 

Nadine had a good point today *Wed February 26). She brought up a video that looked at the perspectives of South Africans. I sat with the Norwegians on a workshop on participatory visual methodology. They group had made videos of a situation and a solution. according to Nadine, videoing is one type of participatory visual methodology. One professor from Norway brought up the importance of making sure they are not coming across as the superior ones-those from the Global North.

Tomorrow I have a meeting with Reinhold at Rendezvous the restaurant)> I am learning that people like face to face interactions which suits me and it takes a long time to form relationships. It is not an overnight process.

Feb 1: Day 2 Port Elizabeth

I got up this morning feeling a little more rested and better.

Then, I started chatting to Marina and said I was going for a walk and she asked if I wanted to go now so she and I went down to the beach front to walk.  She has a car so we drove to the beach front and we walked and talked.  It is good to have to company! She has been here for about 5 years and came from Cape Town.  After that, we headed back to the flat and sure enough the power went off at noon, but I tried to work offline!

The pool looked so inviting so went for a dip and then back to work! It is hard to work when it is so nice out! 

Going home

It has been awhile since I wrote, but not a lot has happened. I had been in lockdown for almost 10 weeks when I had decided to take advantage of the repatriation flights that were offered. They were expensive and a logistic nightmare as I had to get from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town to […]

Cape Town during COVID-19

WE made it to Cape Town at about 8 pm after a whirlwind 10 hour drive, with a stop to get fuel, a stop for scones and another stop for data. a friend I had met in Durban at the SAERA conference had offered to let me stay at her place the night before my […]

Washington D.C. Covid

We made it into Washington D.C. a bit early after a long flight from Cape Town to Ethiopia, Dubin (just to get equipment and then to D.C.  We arrived at-8:30. My new friend Ross was determined to get the flight to Toronto but Air Canada wouldn’t let her on. They wouldn’t let me on either […]