Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Minnesota Connection

Each day in the village we are reminded how different the life is that we lead in South Africa. A far cry indeed from the bustling city life we led back in Chicago. Hours are spent fetching water from the tap in the street, cooking, washing dishes and clothes by hand, sweeping and cleaning from all the burnt orange dust that gathers in each nook and cranny of our home, walking to the shop to pick up our eggs and vegetables, etc. The list goes on. It is not at all a bad life to lead though, and we enjoy many of the simple pleasures that come with our days and weeks. We read more, take early morning walks to enjoy the cool mornings and spectacular sunrises, play cards (Uno has become very popular) and frisbee with the kids in the afternoon, and sit on the front patio in the evening to watch the stars come out and escape the heat inside the house. Our work keeps us busy during the day, however with the heat of summer upon us, being busy often means working to find a bit of shade a hopefully a rustle of breeze. Not quite the weather we associate with the holiday season. We are reminded of that each time we go to town to pick up groceries and see silver tinsel lining the windows of shops and green and red wrapping paper sold at all the stores. Crisp fall/winter mornings and a warm cup of coffee back are frequent thoughts of holidays back home when we are pulling out shorts and a t-shirt for the day thinking even that will be too hot to wear. Sometimes home feels like a long way off.

Yet, just when we think we have left home for good for these next two years we find that there is a bit of truth to the phrase ‘it’s a small world’. On one of our forays into town a few weeks back we heard tell of a woman from Minnesota who, with her husband, is part owner of a BuildIt store (hardware store similar Menards). We had the chance to meet them the other day and come to find out that Chanda, originally from Minnesota and her South Africa husband Jacobus, lived on a hobby farm just outside of Nerstrand, MN (the next town down the road from Northfield where Jessica and I grew up). Sitting in their office here in South Africa over a cup of coffee we were exchanging names of mutual friends and neighbors, popular hunting areas (Jacobus is an avid bowhunter), favorite places in Minneapolis/St, Paul and more. It truly felt like catching up with old friends (the popular, yet very positive, stereotypes of ‘Minnesota Nice’ and ‘The Long Goodbye’ were played out in full). They are extremely welcoming and generous people whom we hope to spend more time with, perhaps sharing a front porch, a little lunch and making the holidays seem a bit more like home.

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