Sunday, September 1, 2013

Whales, penguins, and unidentified little furry critters: my first weekend in Hawston

Hello from Hawston, where it is finally sunny for a change!  It has been a cold, rainy weekend.  I heard a rumor today that there is snow on Table Mountain in Cape Town, which is really, REALLY rare.  Like maybe happens once in 50 years.  Here in Hawston, it's been cold and windy and rainy.  I believe that the large wool blanket I bought my first day here is probably the best money I've ever spent in my life.  I also purchased a small cermanic heater that I cart around with me in the house.  

Speaking of my house, it's quite roomy!  I am living in what used to be a children's home, but the organization lost its funding and now the children aren't living here anymore.  It is a three bedroom house.  In my bedroom, there is a double bed.  The other two bedrooms have bunk beds and a twin bed.  There is a full bathroom with a tub but no shower (I'm getting used to baths again!) and a kitchen stocked with an oven, stove, sink, electric kettle (it boils a liter of water in like 90 seconds... these things are amazing!), fridge and freezer, and some dishes, pots, and pans.  There is also a living room type area that is open to the kitchen.  I have a TV!  I seem to get one station OK and have been using the TV mostly for some background noise because it is rather quiet here.  

So, my weekend was mostly spent settling into my new home and relaxing.  I went over to Hermanus each day.  Hermanus is a resort town 13 km away from Hawston (that's about a 10 minute drive).  It is beautiful.  Not that Hawston isn't beautiful, because it is!  Hawston has a sandy beach (that I intend to thoroughly enjoy in the summer, so when all you Americans are complaining about the cold in January, you just think of me lying on the beach).  Hermanus has rocky cliffs.  It's really dramatic coastline and quite stunning, but the real joy of Hermanus is the wildlife you find there.  Southern right whales are what made the town famous.  They come to calf in Walker Bay, and if you stand on the cliff walk for about 15 minutes you are pretty much guaranteed to see at least one whale pop its head up, or blow its spray, or slap its tail, or do some of those other whaley things they do.  I have tried to get a picture of a whale, but they are (not that surprisingly) hard to photograph.  So, I have spent my spare time this weekend walking along the cliff walk path looking for whales and enjoying the natural beauty of the place.  In addition to the whales, I also saw a few penguins!  African penguins live along the coastline here.  You will see more of them in places like Betty's Bay (on the way back towards Cape Town) or Simon's Town (south of Cape Town on the cape peninsula), but it's not uncommon to see a few around Hermanus, like I did on Saturday.  Jacob was super excited to hear that I had seen a penguin.  He loves penguins.  I also saw lots of these little furry critters that I had never seen before.  I don't know what they're called.  They look a little like a groundhog, but they're smaller, like maybe the size of a house cat.  They run all over the rocks and look for food that people drop.  They're kinda cute, and I took a few photos of them.  I think the other people around me were wondering why I was photographing these little critters, because they are not as interesting as the whales or the scenery, but I liked them.  

I start work in the clinic tomorrow.  I am very excited to get to work here.  After all, that's the reason I came!  I will try to add some photos of my house and of the area soon, and I will also try to post about what it's like to work in health care in South Africa once I get a feeling of it for myself.  

For now, totsiens from the DEEP DEEP South!


  1. I'm really enjoying this vicarious adventure with you. It will be a great way to hang on to summer, don't you think? I'm with Patty.... more pictures please!