Monday, August 15, 2016

Sleeping in South Africa

The plan, we were told, was that the University of Pretoria was going to rent us a house for these two months. A house that not only had a separate bedroom for each child, but one with a side house for a live-in maid, not to mention a pool! We were astonished and pretty excited.

When we arrived, most horrifically jet-legged, I was informed that there were ... legal issues. Universities are not fast-moving creatures. In the meantime, would you mind if we dropped you at this charming little establishment called the Avalon Guest House? It's walking distance and - while your contract indicates that you are responsible for your own food - it comes with breakfast. We'll talk some more later about when we can get you into the house.

Hey, just point me in the direction of the bed, and I'm good. So we arrive and I have a pair of first reactions. First reaction #1 - This is elegant and beautiful!

First reaction #2 - This is never going to work. It's one big room for us and then this small room with three beds for the kids. We just did a week putting the kids to sleep in the same hotel room in DC to get here, and it was a disaster from start to finish. (Yes, there is a bathroom and a closet and a cupboard with a small fridge and microwave too). But it's simply not going to be possible to contain our three lively children in such a small space for two whole months. Not gonna work.

 Joy and I agreed that first night: if it were just the two of us, this would be an ideal bed and breakfast.

Then after the first weekend, the kids decided they really liked it. They really like sharing a room. There is a lovely patio they can play on. There are all these trees and flowers around, with bird song most hours of the day (and they are quiet at night until about 5am).

Princess insists this is a condo (reference from Weird Al's "Gonna Buy Me a Condo." We told her it's not a condo, but she points out from the song that we don't have to "mow de lawn" so it must be a condo!) When SuperStar was this age he called all our houses castles.

And then again, we are creatures of habit. The more we unpack in any one place, the greater the hassle will be of trying to move. It turns out our kids CAN be contained in this space happily. Joy has been holding home schooling half the day and it has worked really well. Joy can keep a much closer eye on the kids this way than she could in a larger house, plus we don't have to worry about JT falling into an unsupervised pool! And the kids really like Joy going out to play with them so that she knows they are respectful of the yard and safe. There is a great little water feature that runs into a fishpond and we don't want them to fall into it.

Not to mention the kids are quite fond of having someone bring us breakfast each morning. (As you can see, it is still winter, which means it's 45-55 in the morning. Figuring out that the air conditioner in our room was actually a heater was a game changer too. Those first couple nights were COLD!)

So here we are at a charming bed and breakfast for two weeks and enjoying ourselves thoroughly. The staff and family (the owners) are pleasant and accommodating. We also like having a maid come in and clean our rooms every day - we'd have to clean a house by ourselves. We get to use the common kitchen and dining room for our lunches and dinners as well. We're walking distance from campus and a mall with two grocery stores and other necessities, not to mention an ice cream parlor. We're a not-too-unreasonable walking distance from a children's park, car rental, and a second mall with anything else we need. The streets are lined with jacaranda trees trimmed in gold and green. And the internet connection is a fair sight better here than it is at UP!

So we've asked if we can pretty please stay at a bed and breakfast for two months while I'm teaching.