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Saturday, 22 December 2012

African Drums

Another Saturday - the End of the World has come and gone, although here at the farm in South Africa's Eastern Cape it feels like it's just around the corner. Outside it's 104°F in the shade - that's 40°C, and inside the house (I don't have an air-conditioner)88.5°F or 31°C. On Wednesday I drove into Port Alfred and it was predictably full of Vaalies (for the uninitiated those are holiday makers from what used to be the Transvaal - Gauteng in today's new Apartheid era.). Most of the influx is from Gauteng (one can only tell by the vehicle registrations), although there is a smattering from the Free State, Natal - oops, sorry - KwaZulu-Natal - and the Western Cape. This is the Silly Season, and the time of year to avoid Port Alfred, especially when the temperature peaks to today's levels.

I write this post to the accompaniment of African tribal drums - no kidding! There are a handful of railway cottages occupied by farm workers a short distance away, and a funeral is in progress. Julia, who runs the local shabeen, is burying her young son, who died a week or so ago in a Grahamstown hospital - I am told of HIV, although that could have been pure speculation. I was given the news by Headman, a jack of all trades who does odd jobs for me from time to time. Apparently, when the railway was still running through Martindale, he was the local station master. He now rents the old station master's house from the railways for just R10 a month. Words from his own lips.

Christmas for me will be quiet. I am still awaiting a parcel from Liz - she says it cost her $60 to post so I'm looking forward to a few small goodies this year. She's now been gone for 7 months - thank Goodness for Skype. I have a little gizmo called MagicJack that comes with an USA telephone number and free calls to all other US numbers, but it stopped working on my Laptop so I'll have to try to install it on the old PII machine. At least we get to chat or live video just about every day - except when her work hours are non-conducive.