December 25, 2005
People were outside our door again last night. I finally had it and opened the door to tell them we were trying to sleep. One of the issues with having a room by the pool. They were polite and moved on.
Ron and I went to mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral. The reason I went was I had thought there would be some time of “African” experience, but it was just like any other mass. The priest was a man of color, Malay or Indian: very animated. The crèche was carved from a dark wood. Disappointingly, there was no special music or clerical robes to give the feel of being on a different continent. Even the stations of the cross were modern, but absent of people of color, just like the stained glass.
After mass we walked back to Ashanti and read until Christmas dinner was ready. We had signed up for their buffet at 100 Rand per person for the all you can eat and three drinks from the bar. We had paid for this and received our tickets when we first arrived, but now that they were needed, I could not find them. They were good enough to give us two more since they had a record of our names. We did get some looks like irresponsible children, but we dealt with it.
They said for the first time in years, they had to hold the dinner inside due to the winds. Normally, it is held out by the poolside, but they put it up on the bar for today. The whole room and the meal were very festive with a touch of British. There was the Christmas cracker or popper that the Brits use. You snap it open and there is a plastic hat inside. The buffet included ostrich kebabs, chicken, turkey, ham, three different salads, quiche, and ice cream. As festive as it was after two Amstel beers, I was knocked out.
That night, we went downtown to see the Christmas lights lit up. This was the first and only time we dared to venture downtown at night. I was especially nervous having my expensive camera. Fortunately, there were a great number of people strolling the streets, so I felt a little less apprehensive. The lights had many African themes: elephants, monkeys, and other animals. There were also lights of tribal dancers and only one was of Santa Claus. It was strange to see people walking around in short sleeve shirts and those brave enough in shorts. Speaking to many, the Christmas tradition is to have a barbeque or to go to the beach. So many said they would love to have one snow filled Christmas in their life just to experience it.
We were going to take a taxi back, but wound up walking so far, we just continued on. The wind was so fierce that it blew me around, which is quite a feat. Some skewed logical made it seem reasonable that if the wind was so bad, the crime would be driven off too. It is difficult to rob someone when they are being blown away from you not of their own accord.
The next day, we were to move to an apartment that Ron had found in a four year old tour book that he had bought at the used English book store. The husband and wife who rent it out are both writers, so this was an exciting opportunity. However, when we took a good look at the map, it seemed like it was far out and was going to be an issue for transportation. We were to be there for eleven nights.