Sunday, November 2, 2008

Arriving in South Africa

We've been in South Africa a little over a week now. It's been pretty hectic so far. Lara got a bad stomach bug in Asia and by the time we arrived in Cape Town she was ready for the hospital. After a few days of travel and little sleep it wasn't the best way to arrive, especially since we didn't have any place to stay and we had heard all the safety warnings about not wandering around at night.

Luckily there was a tourist information center in the airport and I booked a reasonably priced hotel from them. Then we took a cab straight to a emergency where the nice English-speaking doctors took Lara away from me for a couple of days. It was actually the first time we've really been apart in many months, which would have been nice under other circumstances. I spent my first few nights in South Africa in a colorful, run-down hotel called the Kimberly all by myself, wishing that Lara could be there to enjoy the old tin ceilings and colorful pub downstairs. Lara spent it wondering if she could make the bathroom in time with an IV strapped to her arm.

Lara got a bunch of anti-biotics and tests but nothing conclusive came up so after two nights the hospital let her go. She spent a few more days in bed at the hotel. I spent some of the time hunting for a place to say since we wanted to rent an apartment for a while. After seeing some pretty nice little places that weren't quite right I was lucky enough to meet some people in the hotel pub and we lucked in a wonderful high-end apartment right in the downtown for about US$700 per month. Apparently it rents for many times more but somebody cancelled at the last minute and as they had paid a deposit that already covered much of the rent the manager was happy to rent it to us for a bit of a discount. It has two bedrooms, a full kitchen, laundry facilities, two baths, satellite TV, and a fantastic view of Table Mountain from the sixth floor balcony. It's within walking distance of everything. It was wonderful to rest after all the travelling. The first few days Lara was still not feeling well and we just rented lots of videos.

Now we are looking for a car. South Africa doesn't have good public transport, and renting for six months is a little pricey. Unfortunately buying hasn't been as easy as we'd like. We've found all the things we want, but not in one package.

Buying a used-car is classic trade-off. If we buy a $1000.00 vehicle we can pretty much walk away from it at the end of the trip and still be happy. Unfortunately we might spend most of our time repairing some old piece of junk. At the other end of the scale we can spend $10,000 on something in good shape, but we are unlikely to be able to get our money back out, and even if we did we might have to spend quite a bit of time selling it. Not the type of thing we want to cram into a vacation.

We've found some used car dealers who will contract to buy back a vehicle from us for about $1000.00 less than we pay for it. Unfortunately they don't carry the vehicles we want. We are looking for a Toyota or VW because we want to go to Namibia and those cars have the widest availability of parts. We found a great VW at another dealer, but it is a little pricey and he doesn't seem very interested in helping us out if we want to sell it back to him.

Cape Town is great city though, and we are really enjoying spending some time here with a flat to go back to. Lara will be hunting for some volunteer work, and I have some things I'd like to try too. If we can find a posting in Cape Town we will probably spend 3 months or so here. Otherwise we'll move wherever the work is. Either way, the adventure will continue.

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