June 12, 2008

Excuses, excuses

Sometimes Mthatha seems so normal and regular, like I’ve been here for ages. But then you hear or see something that reminds you where you are.

One day, a few weeks back, Dorothy couldn’t come to work. The reason? Her cows - she owns three - had run off and the man she pays to tend them was nowhere to be found. Cows are a sign of wealth and I understand that a full-grown one is worth about 5000 rand (about $650 US). Basically, Dorothy’s savings account had wandered off. She tracked them down that day and sorted everything out.

A while later, I was talking to the contractor who is building a new rondavel next door to mine. The place has been pretty well finished for the last few weeks but they haven’t put on the roof yet. When I asked him why, he said they’re waiting for the grass (for the thatch roof) to grow to the right height before cutting it. Probably not something you’d hear from a contractor in the U.S.