Well, I’ve been here for a week, and I feel like I’m just getting over jet lag. They (whoever they are) say that to fully recover, it takes one day for every time zone you pass. That would equal one week, so I should be just about there. Thank goodness.
I thought I would take the time in this first post to give you some interesting facts on this area that will be home for the next few months or so. It’ll be a get to know you of sorts. After living here, it’s easy to dismiss facts that others might find interesting. You might find this and others in this series a great little school lesson for your kids!
We are in White River, S. Africa in the Mpumalanga province which is about 3 1/2 hours east of Johannesburg and 2 hours from Maputo, Mozambique. Although White River is not huge with a population of about 16,000 people, Kruger National Park makes this area a very popular tourist destination. About the size of Israel, this game park is an awesome outing to go on safari and try to spot Africa’s Big Five…elephant, cape buffalo, lion, leopard, and rhinoceros. Although rare to spot all five in one day, we’ve been able to do it on occasion.
The majority of cars here in S. Africa are manuals. Although automatics are available, they are rare. Cars drive on the left hand side of the road. As long as you can get right turns down, it’s not too hard. Even in a small town, taxis are everywhere although they don’t look like your typical American taxi. A white kombi (van) with a yellow stripe indicates that it is indeed a taxi.
S. Africa is located in the Southern Hemisphere which means the seasons are opposite from that of the states. It’s winter here, typically that means the mornings and evenings are cold enough for a sweatshirt, a scarf, and maybe a hat. It’s not too bad, but the concrete block homes make it feel much colder inside than outside sometimes. Winter here also means fires, lots of them. The scent is often in the air and charred grass is all too common.
This is an early to bed, early to rise culture. It’s no wonder since it’s usually dark by 5:30.
Rand is the form of currency. Currently the exchange rate is a little over 8 Rand to the Dollar. Groceries are pretty comparable. The biggest shock is fuel, currently costing over $6 for a gallon. Ouch!
More interesting facts to come in the coming weeks! If you have any specific questions, please ask away in the comments section.
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