An Email to a Friend


Thanks for checking in. I should have been in touch sooner, but the CELTA course at International House is as tough and as good as I hoped. I'm now finished with three of the four weeks and I'm absolutely exhausted. Didn't help that I got a stomach bug on Monday night. I went to the doctor and he got me straightened out with meds.

The healthcare here is top notch and the Rand - Dollar rate is in my favor so I'm actually getting a round of injections into my knees at the brand new hospital in Cape Town while I'm here. I think the whole three-round treatment plan is going to be $500 and at Scripps it's $2500.

I'm living in a room in an apartment with an older couple from England/Scotland and they are just adorable. I have an ocean view from my room and my own bathroom. Think downtown La Jolla combined with a quaint English high street and you have the neighborhood called Sea Point where I'm staying figured out. Imagine coffee shops, real estate offices, fancy Whole Food-like grocery stores, ice cream sandwiches, and cold-pressed juices.

Across from the school is Mojo Market. It is a hotel but in its downstairs in a grocery store-sized space there's continuous live music, communal tables, a huge bar, and 30 little takeaway restaurants. You wander around with a drink, shop in the little shops, then order your food and enjoy with people from all around the world. Kids mostly runaround barefoot here and they are good at free-ranging while parents relax. Free WiFi and sports screens highlight rugby and soccer and complement the ocean view.

My place is just two blocks from the language school I'm teaching at. My students are from DRC Congo and Republic of Congo (two different countries - who knew?) so their first language is French, but I'm supposed to pretend I don't speak French. We started with absolute beginners in English on day two of the course. We are learning to be teachers and they get our pathetic attempts at teaching them English for free. Other students at the school are learning from professionals so they pay for their lessons of course.

Every move I make and every word I speak is evaluated and it's all very stressful. I teach every day or every other day. Today, I filled in and taught them how to write a resume with 10 minutes notice. They were delighted with my know-how. And on Monday, I'll be correcting their written work. They are economic/political refugees and they are roundly discriminated against here as "foreigners". So many have asked me for help to get out of here and to the U.S.

When I'm done with the course a week from today, I'm going to spend some time here in Cape Town, because there is plenty to see and then I've booked a 20-day overland tour through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. I'll be staying in hotels every night but traveling in this ruggedized tour truck vehicle. I'll see lots of wild animals and beautiful scenery including Victoria Falls and the Namib desert.

The thing I have to mention here is the wind. I have never felt or seen anything like it. It starts up suddenly and whips around the bottom of Africa. It blows the sunglasses off my face. Outdoor furniture in sidewalk cafes is sent hurtling down the street. Everyone runs to get home and out of the blowing dust. Inside the closed windows still howl and the interior doors rattle.

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