Stellenbosch Update #8 (Saturday evening February 16, 2008)

Braai at the van der Merwe home. Christo picked me up at 7pm and we drove a few minutes to a neighborhood on the outskirts of the town center. He lives in a nice one story house with a detached garage. As we arrived I noticed beautiful guinea fowl in the yard. They looked exotic and spectacular and I remarked that I wanted to get a photo at some time. He made a funny noise and said they are a nuisance to him because they mess up his yard (like Canada Geese for us).

Christo has been married about 28 years to Marli (roll the “r” like in Spanish). They have three children (2 sons and a daughter), but only Christian is at home now. He is fourteen. He plays the violin and cricket. He likes cricket better. Everyone greets me with a hug (even the 14 year old). Well, almost everyone. The dogs actually don’t hug, they just try their best to get attention and get you to pet them. They actually have 2 dogs and a cat. A golden lab and some small little dog. Didn’t see the cat

First things first: tend to the braai. Christo has a nice set of coals (from wood) already, but stokes the fire again with more special wood so that we have a good bed of coals to cook with. He actually has 4 grills: his regular braai (which we are using tonight), a weber (for chicken), a gas grill, and a smoker. I told you they take braai seriously. Tonight we will have lamb and sausages. They also cook a kind of grilled cheese sandwich on the grill. The meal is rounded out with corn and salad. And Stellenbosch wine of course (pinotage)! Ros would be thrilled because we ended the meal with a delicious “pudding” (which isn’t pudding, really, it is cake…sort of).

The barbecue sauce I brought (Bone Suckin’ Sauce—hot and regular—and Whole Foods Smoked Maple) were a hit. Both Christo and his wife like to cook, so the sauces and maple syrup were a great thing to bring. He has lots of specialty cooking pots that he has brought home from his travels. His favorites are from Germany. He was so delighted to show off his “treasures.”

After dinner Christo gave me a great intro to South African folk music (lots of stories). Christo has quite a collection of varied music and played many songs for me on his terrific “hifi.” He worked for 10 years on Saturdays (as a “hobby”) at a hifi shop. He has an amazing stereo system and speakers that are almost as tall as me. We all had a great evening and are looking forward to spending more time together on Sunday when we go to Capetown. As Christo took me home (around 11 pm) I noticed the late night sky for the first time. Mostly I have been in my room by 8 pm, so I have not seen the stars! It was a clear, dark night and the starts were amazing.

Saturday morning the university area is quiet (still only the first two weeks of class), so I took the camera around campus to get some photos. The Neelsie (student center) was open and had quite a few guys watching the ongoing rugby matches.The center of the center has a large projection TV and several large flat screen televisions. There are lots of places to sit, eat, watch TV, shop, surf the internet, and catch up with a friend. Today it was mostly guys watching rugby. My gastehuis is across the street/river from the playing fields for the university. There are almost always events going on. I walked over there and took photos of the field hockey fields (men and women have their own field hockey teams), the track, and some other fields. There is also a gymaseum, outdoor netball areas (basketball), tennis courts, and an outdoor pool. Sports are a big thing here, just as they would be at any large university.

I also went to the Botanical Garden again and found some wonderful flowers. One vine has a flower that is larger than my head! The water lilies are pretty amazing too. The garden has a little area where they can set up chairs and which is often used for wedding ceremonies. There was a rehearsal there today.

Regarding animals in town: I saw one squirrel today. One. That’s it. All by itself. Where do they hide?

Just for the record, it is hot again. And tomorrow when we go to Capetown it should be even hotter. We are bringing our swimming suits so that we can go in the ocean. It is really cold water, so we may only put our feet in!

I tried to spend several hours today reading and thinking. Mostly thinking. I’ve got to put together my research schedule and strategy for Monday. And I’ve also been trying to organize an outline for a paper. I’m also working to resolve several issues with the UVa course. We’re having some glitches with the Collab online program and it takes some time to sort that out and I have to do that when I am online. Oh, and I also get a few Hebrew questions from WTS students! Now, to all you Hebrew 3 folks…weren’t those quizzes this week easy??

The other thing I am trying to do online is download the last LOST show. It has taken a few days of downloading! I hope to watch it on my flight home, so no spoilers please!

For those of you who might care, the Stormers and the Bulls are playing (rugby) right now on the big TV in the café. The score is 9-7 and it is quite exciting. Of course I have NO idea of what is going on. But I figure it is good when people cheer.

Photos are posted in Facebook: Stellenbosch #4 (the braai) and #5 (Saturday pics).

Oh, the Bulls just scored… now it is 9-10 (Bulls ahead).

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