Reunited at last

A few people have asked me why I’m not blogging anymore and the general reason is because my life here in Quang Ngai has pretty much slotted into a routine of yoga, teach, eat, sleep, prepare lessons, and occasionally go out with the gang on a special occasion. I’ve watched so much Netflix over the past while I could write a blog and dissect each series I seem to fly through weekly.

Living in a country is very different to holidaying in it. I will go away from this experience with very few memories of beautiful white beaches and sipping on tropical cocktails. It’s been made up more of learning a new culture, learning a new vocation, living a new life really.

However, recently, the boyfriend came to visit and so we did manage to have two nights away from it all. Unfortunately only two because I still had to work but boy, did we make the most of it.

He arrived in Ho Chi Minh City after a total of 20 hours and one stop over. Because that was already a really tough trip for someone who hates flying (and is also a heavy smoker) I decided to meet him in HCMC and we could spend the night and then do the last leg of the flight back to QN together. We spent an awesome night reconnecting. After not seeing each other for 6 months I was like a shy virgin when we saw each other again. Needless to say that did not last long! Luckily for Dan we did it that way because the next day our flight back was delayed by 3 hours. I was just so happy to be together again that I didn’t mind that we were stuck in an airport for 6 hours drinking and chatting and catching up. It was difficult for him because technically he hadn’t yet arrived and no matter how happy he was to see me, he was still in transit and just wanted to get there! I on the other hand have literally not had such a good time in an airport before. Made me realise how long it’s been since I was sitting and chatting to someone totally comfortable being there and not wanting to be anywhere else in the world.

When we finally took off I was seated next to a lady who kept sleeping on my side of the arm chair – no sense of personal space – then at the end she puked so was obviously not feeling very well. Shame. The next big thing was the bus ride home. This was the start of the many ‘What the actual fucks’ which came out of Dan’s mouth during the holiday. The roads and the way people drive here is just ridiculous. The bus would overtake a truck in the face of oncoming traffic, there are small scooters on the side of the road, vying for space too! All just so crazy! He had quite a few more grey hairs by the time we got into town.

Because I was working and because it was so hot we spent a lot of time just chilling. The one week he was here recorded temperatures of 45 degrees – it was insane!

We went to the beach one of the days and I had told him to bring jeans and a jacket because riding here you have to cover up. It’s so hot but if even one part of your body is exposed, you will burn really quickly. Anyway, it was so hot he couldn’t bear the thought of jeans so we covered him up in my sarong and off we went. Usually the beach is quiet and chilled during the week and it’s a good way to relax and chill out. Dan could not believe the warmth of the water. It literally doesn’t feel any different from leaving the land to putting your body in. Not my cup of tea but it’s still nice to get all salty and wet.

Chilling amongst all the plastic! Luckily the beach itself is very clean with regular beach clean ups taking place!
Dan all geared up for our long drive to the beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our one splurge of the holiday was that we hired a car and drove to Hoi An for a night. I recently visited Hoi An with a friend and we drove on a scooter there. NEVER AGAIN!!! I really thought that my life might end that trip. It’s the same road as we came back from the airport on so its the trucks and the busses and everyone vying for space on the road. And when you are a mosquito and the thing next to you is a dinosaur, its pretty scary. All that would maybe even be ok if there wasn’t the strongest wind trying to push you into the mouth of the dinosaur. So driving was great. Except that Dan had to drive, on the wrong side of the road, in that traffic. Considering how much he moans about everything I think he did a sterling job. And to actually navigate that road and all the stuff on it – I take my hat off to him, I really do.

So we stayed in a VERY fancy resort for the one night. It was between the beach and the river so had a view of both. We basically had a full day and a half there and we spent a lot of it on the beach and by the pool drinking cocktails and relaxing. In the night we went to Ancient Town and walked around for a bit – the lanterns and lights there are just so so stunning. Then when we got back we went back to the beach and stayed there talking til about 1:30. I even skinny dipped! To do it in water that feels like bath water is pretty damn surreal.

I’m glad we got to go away because it showed the vast difference between how the tourists see Viet Nam and how it really is.  To see so many white faces on the beach and people speaking with Australian accents (pretty much everyone at the resort was Ozzie) was just crazy.  Dan found the experience really insane.  He struggled with the heat but loved the fact that you can smoke anywhere.  He struggled with the road rules or lack of them (and never did get over that).  He loved the food but hated the beer.  He loved that whiskey is so cheap here but hated that wine costs the same as whiskey.  (And it’s not even good).  He loved the visit but hated the fact that he was leaving me behind.  😦  It was amazing having him here but made me super homesick.  Hopefully I’ll be getting a visit soon from someone else near and dear to me! 😉

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The Faraway Waterfall

Last week our crew decided that the adventure for the week would be to go and visit one of the beautiful waterfalls in the mountains in our area.  We left early to miss the traffic which is lucky because what we thought would be an hour journey turned into 2 hours each way.  This was my first long-haul on the motorbike and it was tough going.  Did not realise that one could feel sore in all sorts of funny places while just riding a motorbike but I have lived to tell that tale, and can attest to that exact fact!  Anyway, once out of the city the drive was really beautiful and totally worth it!

Stopping on the way to buy beer because what’s a day out without it!

 

Notice the difference between how the foreigners dress to ride on a bike and the Vietnamese!

Everybody was tasked with bringing something for the feast.  I made mung bean curry.  Nobody even knew what that was until I presented it but it got high ratings.  Because our crew is a bunch of Saffas it was not a feast without a braai (barbecue) and I was quite amazed to see that even though we all came on bikes and had to pack light, a grid came along as well as pork and chicken and what would a braai be without potato salad?  It arrived in a big-ass pot – still not entirely sure how they managed to transport it.

The couple who brought the big-ass potato salad – now you tell me where you think they have it on that bike?!

The terrain was very rocky and hard to find a comfortable place to sit, yet we managed to find wood, light a fire and still cook up an amazing braai feast.

The braai! We managed to cook 5 pork rashers, 10 chicken wings and some meatballs and rolls and eggs before the fire died. Pretty impressive survivor style missions. P.S. The eggs were already boiled, we were just warming them up on the fire.
No table, no stable surface, everything was either eaten straight from the container or stuffed into a roll for eating.

Footage of the big-ass pot of potato salad! And my awesome mung bean curry!

The waterfall itself was amazing and the water crystal clear and cool.  Nothing like spending the day in nature with the sound of a waterfall gushing down in the background.

Only one of our crew managed to get to the back of the waterfall – it was coming down pretty forcefully and no-one else felt safe enough to do it.  But from the outside looking in, it looked amazing!

Again, I sadly have to add that this beautiful site in nature had so much rubbish on the rocks!  This is not something one would find in South Africa and England!  We did our bit and picked up after ourselves, as well as picked up as much old rubbish as we could fit into the bags we had.  Luckily the rubbish had not yet actually managed to find its way into the actual waterfall pool but if enough people go there and leave their shit lying around, that will be the result.

All in all, an awesome, relaxing day spent with fun friends and lots of laughs.

Finally mobile!

I got my wheels this week!!!  I wish that I could have trainer wheels attached but sadly no.  No one here cares that you don’t know how to ride a motorbike.  They show you the basics and then you are on your own.  It’s quite funny that I learned to drive a car first, then a bicycle (in London) and now a motorbike.  How I wish I could have all the safety of metal surrounding me of a car, these days.  So, learning to drive the motorbike was actually super easy.  It’s an automatic so there really is nothing to it, as long as you can control your balance and how fast to go.  My problem is that in the face of danger I usually go faster – really need to learn to stop doing that.  The real danger is all the hundreds of other people on bikes on the road, plus they drive on the other side of the road here.  It is hair-raising to say the least.  Not only are there other bikes on the road but all the cars here are massive Hi-lux type vehicles or enormous trucks.  Everyone hoots ALL the time and its enough to give one a panic attack.  I am looking forward to getting on the open road and opening her up to the more than the 20 km/h I’ve been doing so far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

From tomorrow I will be on holiday for two weeks.  Here in Viet Nam we are about to embark on their biggest holiday of the year – TET.  It’s their New Year – they celebrate Lunar New Year – and it promises to be an epic experience.  I am going to Da Nang which is the third largest city in Viet Nam after Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in the South and Ha Noi in the North.  Da Nang is kinda in the middle – Central Viet Nam.  I’ll be staying in a backpackers right on the beach so my next blog promises to hold lots of news and even photos!!!  Thanks to my cousin James for advising on how to do that.  You would never say I was a digital project manager in my previous life! Oooooops! 😉

I know a lot about TET because its been the main theme in all my classes for the last couple of weeks now.  It’s a time to sweep out the old year and all the negativity and prepare for the new, hopefully successful year.  To prepare for this, people clean their houses and buy new clothes which they will only wear on New Years Day.  It’s very important to make sure that the first guest you welcome into your home in the new year, is successful, preferably wealthy and a good person as this will set the tone for the year to come.  Some people leave their house just before midnight and go back in just after, to make sure that the wrong ‘guest’ is not the first people to set foot into their home.  Flowers are very important for this festival and I can attest to this as I have seen truckloads of marigolds and peach and apricot blossoms being trucked all over the place.  People place flowers underneath trees in the street with sticks of incense leading up to this occasion as well – these are gifts to the ancestors.  Much food is prepared and the general feeling of this holiday is about family coming together and enjoying each other’s company.

I’ve been in Viet Nam just shy of a month now.  It feels far longer.  I have never been so alone and isolated in my entire life.  I wouldn’t say I am lonely (yet) but I fear that the age-gap between me and the other non-Asian people here might become an issue.  I have finally learnt to be responsible – people drink here and get on their scooters which I will definitely not be doing, but then instead of going out I would rather just stay at home, because what’s a good meal and good company without a drink too.  I might just have to change that philosophy if I want to actually get out at all!  I feel that I am going to be doing a lot of inner reflection in the coming months and really have to face who I am and what I want from my life going forward.

Everyone drives around with these masks on. At first I thought it was really weird but its such a good idea actually as it means no muggies or dust and sand can get into your mouth. With googles/glasses and helmut, your face is really protected. Wearing a helmet like we would wear in the UK or SA would not work here – it’s just too hot!
My expedition to the supermarket. See all those bikes parked? Mine is one of them!!!

The daily grind :)

As I said in my previous blog my life consists of a 3 kilometre radius until I get my scooter.  This might seem boring to some but every day brings a new experience.

A couple of days ago I was sitting at the dining room table planning my lessons and this delivery guy walks into the house and starts depositing a whole lot of groceries on the floor.  I knew they couldn’t be for us.  So I tried to explain this to him.  What transpired was a 5 minute conversation where neither of us could understand the other, yet we managed to understand each other.  I asked to see the invoice so I could check the address, he showed me, I showed him that the address on the slip was not our address and then he asked me if I could keep the goods until 2pm when the neighbours would be back.  All done with hand gestures while both of us chatting away in our respective languages.  It was really funny!

What was not so funny was that remember I told you that I felt like there was a small child living in the cupboard downstairs trying to get out, well today I found out what is living in there as two big rats nudged open the door and jumped out!!! Worse is that I could still hear noises once they were gone which means there are probably babies in there!  I emailed the school and they had better to something about it pronto!

Yesterday was the first really hot day since I’ve been here so walking to and from the supermarket was a real challenge.  I looked like I had a 60 minute cardio workout when I got home.  First time I had a cold shower in the day – I feel lots of those will be happening in the near future (sorry to any Capetonians reading this) :(.  But if you need a long, hot shower, my door is always open!  Everyday I have so many people on their bikes offering me a ride.  I am not sure if I would need to pay at the end of said journey so I just smile and shake my head.  The kids always shout ‘Hello Teacher’ even though I’m not their teacher but I guess, why else would I be here.

Teaching these kids is teaching me a lot.  I am learning to think on my feet so much!  No matter how much I prepare a lesson, things crop up which means the lesson often doesn’t go according to plan.  I am learning patience, especially with the younger kids who I have so much respect for as they sit through an hour and a half practising the same thing over and over in a lesson.  So I aim to make the lessons as exciting as possible.  One of my class’s themes is At the Supermarket and the main words they are learning are melon, lemon, noodles, onion, cucumber, cereal.  I need to teach them that while you can say ‘a lemon’, you can’t say ‘a cereal’ and for that you need to say ‘some cereal’.  They have flashcards for these words but I also went and bought all the items so that (a) they can associate the flashcard with the real thing and (b) we can play a supermarket game where the one student is the shopkeeper and the other students can ask for things.  While those are the main words to learn I can also incorporate other words they have learnt previously so I will also be bringing along juice, eggs, bread and a few other things.  It’s really challenging teaching them the actual rules of English because their English isn’t good enough to grasp concepts and understand what I am saying without the help of imagery.  Also because I am new to this I don’t have a vast well of knowledge and I am just drawing from what I think will work.  So I may not be the best teacher around but I know how to show these kids a fun time! 😉  It’s very rewarding to walk into the classroom and have all the kids clearly excited to see me.  Sometimes some of my games get them really riled up but luckily it doesn’t seem to matter and its the Vietnamese teacher/teacher assistant’s job to quieten them down.  I like that I don’t have to discipline, just teach.

Once I get my scooter and can spend more time out of the house I probably won’t be spending as much time preparing lessons but by then I will have stocked up on lots of materials and fun ideas that I can use, re-use and adjust depending on the age and lesson.

The other thing that happened a few days ago, was that my phone broke.  It just stopped charging.  I tried it with various chargers and none of them worked so it was obvious that was the issue.  But now my phone is on 8% and I need to find a place that can repair my phone.  So basically I cannot rely on Google maps.  I have to do this one alone!  I look on Maps before I leave from my laptop to get a general idea of where to go and thereafter start my, what turned out to be a very long, but completely successful venture.  The first shop I went to sold iPhones.  I explained in sign language that it wasn’t charging.  So he also tried and ascertained my prognosis was correct.  So then I needed to find out if they do repairs so we eventually resorted to talking over Google translate.  In that way I found out that they don’t do repairs so he wrote down the address of another place (luckily I was clever and had pen and notepad in my bag).  And, the address he gave me was of a road I know well!  I’ve been noting the names of the streets in my head every time I go out and this paid off!  And I even found the street based on having done so much walking around in the last while.  I can definitely take ‘directionally challenged’ off my list of weaknesses these days.  Then I got to the place (and believe me it was not close by, I must have walked about 4kms all told by now). It looked very similar to the other place so I thought that was a lost cause and then I saw, about 2 shops down, a shop that looked like it was a repair shop.  You must imagine that NOTHING is in English.  In the big cities everything is in English but not here. So in I went.  Again explaining my charger story in proficient sign language.  Them going Ahhhh, showing me a plug to put the charger into, me saying No, that isn’t the issue, but yes please, try it and see that it won’t work.  Once they had ascertained that it was a charging problem, he did the whole cleaning out of the insert point – even had a little blasting machine – but nothing worked.  Then he showed me that he would need to replace that part by showing me what he would replace it with.  I said Dong? (Vietnamese currency). He showed me how much it would cost with notes he had.  150 000 Dong to replace and I must come back in 1 hour.  I came back in half an hour and it was done and it cost me R80 or £5.  How’s that for service?  I was well impressed.  Then I still had to get home on my own because even though fixed it had hardly charged by the time I collected it.  Anyway, the walk home was long but at least I had achieved something.  I had serious doubts before I left home that morning that I would even FIND a shop, let alone three and then have the matter resolved.  Feeling accomplished!

My next challenge is to find a beauty salon that does waxing – it’s going to be very interesting to try and show them what I need doing, especially when I get to explaining that I need a hollywood!

I’m loving that I can start every day with yoga practice.  It is so good for my soul and of course my muscles which are getting back into shape.  I am grateful and happy.

p.s Remember to follow me on Insta to keep updated on the pics side of things!  mariafkyle

Good Morning Viet Nam!

I can’t believe it has only been 2 months since I last posted on my blog.  So much has happened since then!  When I last wrote I didn’t even have a teaching job secured and yet, here I am, over a week into my teaching stint in Viet Nam!

I have had so many conflicting emotions since I arrived here.  I wasn’t sure what to expect and had no expectations, which in hindsight is good, because it was such a hardcore culture shock as it was, that if I had had expectations, the conflict would have been more huge than it was when I got here.

The first major change was the weather of course.  All the locals here think it’s freezing and are wearing jerseys and boots and things – at a mild 25 degrees I am in my element and embracing it as the temperature and humidity here apparently soar to unbearable heights.  The weather is already not doing anything great for my hair but at least now I don’t even have to TRY and straighten it because there is just no point.  Curly is my new state.

Not knowing anyone and not knowing how to get anywhere was a real challenge in the beginning.  I am not teaching at a school but rather at an English centre which means the English being taught is extra English for the kids.  So I teach every day but only in the evenings for one or two hours and the majority of my teaching takes place over the weekend – Saturday and Sunday are really busy and at the moment I am teaching 21 classes a week ranging from 4 to 12 year olds.  The teaching is going well!  I am putting a lot of effort into lesson preparation which takes up quite a bit of time.  But time is something I have so much of at the moment!  Because I only teach in the evenings my days are free.  Because there is no such thing as public transport here and the language barrier is just that – a complete barrier to any understanding between me and the locals, the only exploring I can do at the moment is on foot.  It took me a week to find the actual supermarket where there are tills and everything but it’s a 2.5 km walk one way and while this is doable now, while the weather is still mild, it would be pretty much suicidal to try and attempt this once the temperatures start rising.  So I do need to invest in a scooter (even a bicycle would be silly in the heat) so that is something I need to organise.  Everyone here rides scooters and it’s amazing to see.  Women in high heels and smartly dressed ride their scooters.  Families of 5 all manage to organise themselves onto one scooter and everyone rides around hooting merrily.  You can imagine my shock at all the hooting when I first arrived.  No-one hoots in London, and if they do, it’s seen as very impolite.  But apparently here it is the norm and completely acceptable.  So is going through a red light if you are turning apparently.  They actually have the green man light for pedestrians to cross but woe betide if you just cross – it’s still a dodge-ems game no matter what the lights are telling you.  However, no one drives fast and it all seems to work.

I am living in a massive house with one other person, who, surprise surprise, is also South African.  He is 24 and has been teaching here for over a year.  I feel like I was told there was going to be 4 teachers living in the house (but that could also have been a lost in translation thing) and so was a bit surprised to learn that it was only going to be the two of us.  We are literally the only non-Vietnamese people for miles around.  He works at a few other centres (he has a scooter and can get around) and because he has been here for a while has a support base.  I have met some of his friends once so far and I am sure will again but he is often out of the house on his own mission so a lot of the time I am in this big old house on my own.  Well, not entirely on my own.  I have seen a few rats, loads of gheckos and there is something living in the cupboard downstairs that sounds like it’s a small child trying to get out!! (Trying not to think too much about that!).  I am hand washing my own washing at the moment because the lady he goes to lives too far away for me to walk to and at this stage I don’t know of anywhere closer.

My room is about as big as my little house in Noordsig was – it’s enormous!  So I have started a new daily regime.  First of all every morning Dan and I Skype.  The time difference is 5 hours so when I am waking up he is going to bed!!!  If he goes to bed at 2, that is 7 my time which is perfect.  We Skype for an hour then he passes out and I get up and start my day.  Which as of 3 days ago starts with a peaceful 30 minutes of yoga, then a 30 minute cardio session followed by a meditation session that lasts as long as I want it to.  After that I have breakfast, go out for supplies if I need to, and then settle in to some lesson preparation.  I panicked at first thinking I would be bored but I’m not.  I am loving the quiet solitude and space and warmth that is allowing me to get healthy again.

The food here is cheap and interesting.  I have had some amazing, tasty food and I have also had some dishes that I could not stomach due to the consistency and lack of taste.  Most things are cheap here!  0.60p for a beer or R10 (not even sure if that is cheap in SA anymore but it’s certainly cheap in the UK)!  Cigarettes are extremely cheap at around £1 for a packet (not that I’m smoking but my housemate does) and so is eating out.  Eating out is an experience.  First of all you can smoke anywhere here and when eating out people just throw their butts on the floor along with anything else that forms part of the meal.  We had a clam chowder dish the one night and I was told to throw the shells on the floor.  Beer cans too.  Once your party is done they just come and clear it up!

The people are super friendly and I have become quite the local already as I walk my route to the supermarket most days.  Everybody shouts out hello (unfortunately that’s where the conversation ends) but I do feel like quite the film star here as people do stare and wave and smile.

Working at the centre was also very challenging at first.  Even though its an English centre and all the teachers can speak English, their English is not great (and I see now why they employ foreign teachers to help out because the kids would not get far learning English from their Vietnamese teachers).  Their pronunciation is SO different and often it takes me ages to understand what they are saying and vice versa.  But I am learning to speak slowly and everybody just takes it in their stride when the communication is lacking.  We all just try and try until the penny drops.  Teaching the kids is different every day.  Some days the class goes SO well and I really feel like they enjoyed it and I made a difference.  And then other days it’s just mediocre.  But I put so much effort into preparing each class that I am not beating myself up about it when it doesn’t go well.  There is a syllabus they are following and some days no matter how hard you try, you cannot make it interesting – especially when you are covering the same content for the 5th time!  The younger kids are by far the hardest to teach as they don’t understand and they get fidgety quickly but they are so cute!  Luckily the Vietnamese teacher stays in the class so they often explain to the kids when I can’t get through to them.  It requires a lot of thinking on my feet and it’s very challenging, especially when the kids don’t want to participate, but it also feels like I’ve been doing this for a million years and I am on such a high each evening after classes are done!

I can see why teachers need so many breaks though!  I am SO looking forward to my first break which is in just under a month’s time.  Also because I can use that opportunity to go and explore a bit of Viet Nam.  But more about that in a future post.

For now I am just so grateful that I am settling in and starting to see the positives in the space that I am now in.  I am going to embrace it and use this time to be the best teacher I can be, and the best me I can be.  Last year I felt I was becoming a very negative, angry person and I can already feel that this environment and all the positives I will be putting into my life and my health, will only benefit me and put me on the road to being the positive, at peace person I want to be.

P.S.  Because transferring photos from my phone and laptop to WordPress is such a nightmare I won’t be posting many pics here but mainly on Insta – you can follow me there – mariafkyle.

The best laid plans …

What is it they say about the best laid plans – they often go awry.  Well, in my case that has indeed happened!  Hello, avid fans – all 11 of you! 🙂  My daughter has been moaning at me to resurrect my blog even though most of you know what’s going on in my life anyway. But seeing as I am mostly sitting at home twiddling my thumbs  these days, there is no harm in putting fingers to keyboard and giving an update to those who may not be totally up to speed.

When I left you 3 months ago, I was pretty certain of my plans for 2018. I would continue working in London until May and then follow my dream of teaching in Mexico and saving turtles in Costa Rica.

That all fell apart when the company I had been working for, for over a year, told me that my services were no longer required and gave me a week’s notice!  Considering it was only meant to be a 3-month contract I feel very grateful that it lasted as long as it did!  However, I already had a holiday to South Africa booked and because Khaya was coming back from Thailand on a certain date I couldn’t move the trip forward.  So I ended up being out of work for a month already before I got back from SA and could actively start looking for a job again.  I very quickly realised that this is the wrong time of year to start looking for a job.  Also, the process in the UK is SO slow.  First of all there is a cut off date for applications and they don’t look at any of them until that date.  Thereafter there is a first interview (usually a phone call). Then one or two more interviews before the candidate is chosen.  So the whole process can take months, which I do not have.  I was literally looking for anything – temp, permanent, contract, even secretarial work.  Signed up at various agencies, a couple of bites, but mainly crickets!!

So my thoughts turned to what else I could do and to be quite honest, the thought of continuing in the digital space doing the kind of job I have been doing, was not filling me with great excitement.  I knew that the next job I got, I would not be so lucky with regards working so close to home etc.  It was then that it dawned on me that I should just push the teaching plan forward.   Yes, it changes my plans a bit (Mexico and saving turtles will have to wait) but hey, I’m learning to roll with the punches and not take changes in plans so seriously.  To my mind it’s still better to have a plan than none at all.

So this is where I am at the moment.  Still jobless and with absolutely no idea what the future holds.  I’ve applied for some teaching jobs but because my dates are so specific – I really cannot afford to wait longer than January to get a job – it narrows the teaching jobs down as well.  I could still get a job in London but my heart has already packed my bags and left the country.  At the moment my strongest leads are in Taiwan and Vietnam.  So after never ever believing I would go to that side of the world and teach, it seems that fate is pushing me in that direction.

How am I filling my days you ask?  Besides the lack of monetary income, I cannot lie and say that I am not enjoying this forced holiday.  First of all the weather is perfect for my current lifestyle.  I still wake up early but then I lie in bed and drink loads of  coffee and read and catch up on emails etc. before I even think of arising.  Once I have arisen I do any errands that I need to – usually food shopping and then I get on my bike (I would say weather permitting but hey you gotta take the bull by the horns in this climate and roll with the punches again!).  Luckily, I have figured out the English weather.  It very seldom rains in the morning.  It looks like it’s about to pour ALL the time, but it usually holds off until the afternoon so you have a fairly good chance of making it home dry.  So, my mornings are filled up well.  The afternoons are for watching Netflix, reading some more and making dinner.  It’s dark by 4 so if nothing else is going on I am often asleep by 9!  This is made easier by everyone in SA being 2 hours ahead now so they are all turning in at 9 too (except it’s 11 their time which is far more respectable).

I’m loving having the time to explore my hood on my bicycle.  It has taken me many months to build up the courage to go out on the road on my bicycle and I am still so nervous every time I do.  But it has allowed me to explore so much more of this awesome place I live.  The past 16 months have been a such an awesome journey.  I feel very happy that I am getting to spend the last while I am here exploring and being active.

So that’s my life in a nutshell at the moment.  Had such an amazing SA holiday and now counting down the days until Dan and then Nick come for possibly their last visit to visit me in London!!!!

It feels weird not knowing what my future holds!

Watch this space … more to follow soon!

 

 

 

Life Update

As forewarned dear readers, the next few months are going to be quiet as I put my head down and concentrate on my studies and keeping on the straight and narrow.

Having said that I am very excited as I start planning for my travels next year.  As has happened a lot in my life so far, I have had to bide my time and wait patiently (or not so patiently) for things to fall into place so that I can realise a dream.

So my first plan of action has been to enrol in a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course.  Easy right.  Thousands of kids do this every year and go on to get amazing jobs overseas.  Well, the easy part was enrolling – nothing since has been!  I’m not sure what happened between leaving school 27 years ago (really!!!???) and what they expect to be taught these days but it is HARD.  Or should I say difficult, complicated, onerous (see I know all the big words but apparently not only are they adjectives but they can also be nouns when used in a certain way!) And, if used in another way, may be a gerund.  And don’t even get me started on past present continuous and the like!  Anyway, luckily Khaya is in Thailand teaching English and I get the sense that what you need to learn (and get over 75% for) is not necessarily put into practice quite so formally in the real world, so that makes me feel a bit better.  Except I still have to get 75% for every single assignment of which there are many in order to continue and ultimately pass.

The other exciting thing that happened is that I have already found my school!  It’s in Tehuacán, Mexico.  I had a Skype interview with the supervisor yesterday who asked all sorts of weird questions – like if you had a superpower what would it be?  I said, to be able to read people’s thoughts (Yes, I was an avid Misfits watcher!).  If I could choose between flying and invisibility which would I choose?  I chose invisibility.  How would your boss describe you?  I said ‘annoying’. 😉 Anyway, after a 45 minute chat he told me that he never does this on the first Skype interview but I’m hired.  He found my ‘quirkiness interesting’ and has a good feeling about me.  Well, I hope he does not say that to all the prospective teachers.  Anyway, its a long way away still but as soon as I saw the advert for this school, I knew it was the place for me.  I have 4 months there and am going to travel for 2 months and already I have changed my mind a hundred times about where I am going to go.  But more about that later.  As I type this I received the confirmation email saying that they want me to join their team! I am so excited!

I am thankful I have all these things to keep me going and occupied because life is hard and lonely in London when you aren’t doing much and are trying to save money.  It has literally rained the entire summer so far.  I bought a bike recently and have not really been able to ride (except for weekends) because every night when I get home it’s drizzling or pouring with rain.  I am really missing the boyfriend so much and and there is no sign of an imminent visit due to his expanding business which in itself is leading to huge stress because the Skype dates of old are very few and far between these days.  But on the plus side, his business is booming which is amazing.  I am so grateful to have this man in my life who will keep the home fires burning while I get to follow my dreams (with the general expectation that one day we will live and make a life together!)