I decided to check out my new neighborhood this morning by running through it. I have a pretty good sense of direction and I’m sort of familiar with the main roads (when there are street signs) so I was pretty confident all would be fine. It was going great and I even found a few small hills to run up (everything else is very flat here) and was going to go one more block then turn around. Well, the block I chose was very long, but it seemed alright. I planned to run to the next block and turn back, making a large U-shape. Well, there wasn’t another block for a long time and I started to not recognize things. I should have just turned around at that point, but I thought I knew where I was. Boy, was I wrong! I eventually stopped and asked for directions after I had been running for 40 minutes. The guy I talked to was very nice and gave me great directions, but I was really far from where I wanted to be. I ran for nearly an hour before getting home! I started early enough that I wasn’t late for work, but it was definitely longer than I wanted to be running with the heat.
I got to work, printed a few things then went to catch a new combi to go to the lab for my meeting with Beauty. Beauty was running late so I waited for 45 minutes. When she got there, she told me she had to leave by 11:30 to make it to a meeting at noon. We went into the lab and started our work but it was obvious we were not going to finish everything by her deadline so we found a good stopping point and packed it in for the weekend.
Salome picked me up and we headed back to the poly-clinic we had visited the previous day. We had a great chat with the nurses but it was after 1 pm by the time we left. I was feeling so tired and dehydrated from my long run and no lunch that I asked Salome to skip the other clinic we were going to visit and we just went back to the office.
After lunch and some water I was feeling better but it was so hot and I was so tired that my attention span was not enough to do any more work and I gave up at 3:30 (which is only 30 min early for a Friday). I really needed more appropriate clothing for such warm weather so I convinced Salome to go shopping with me. We walked all around down town and I eventually bought 3 dresses which totaled $48. Salome said the clothes were quite expensive and that most people go to South Africa to buy things because clothes are cheaper in Jo’burg. I thought I got a good deal.
Traffic was horrific at 5:30 when I was heading home. It took 10 minutes to go half a block because the traffic lights (called robots) were out at one intersection and it was chaos! When the robots are not working, everyone treats it as their right of way and it becomes such a traffic jam.
I had been exchanging text messages with Mark, from University of Colorado, Denver, regarding dinner. He and his group were going to dinner at 6 which was far too early for me, but I agreed to meet up with them later. I got home, took a shower and got ready then Jake called to see if I wanted a ride. He was just leaving work but could pick me up before going to his place to change. The timing worked out perfectly for both of us and we managed to get to the restaurant by 7:15.
The place that Mark picked out is called “Bejazzled”!! What an amazing name! It’s a restaurant that features live jazz music nightly and serves Thai food. It used to be known as the “Blue Banana” but I think it has a far better name now. The food was alright, but very different than the Thai food in the Bay area. It was fun though.
After dinner, Mark’s colleagues (who are older) wanted to go back to the hotel but Mark wanted to go out so he ordered them a cab while Jake, he and I headed down town. We went back to the bar we were at on Monday but it was just as empty on Friday so we passed on that. Jake suggested we check out this other place he knows of so we agreed. The place is called “the Rugby Fields” and the name says it all: it’s mostly a parking lot with actual rugby fields where they play games. The pavilion where they sell food and drink during the games converts to a bar in the evening and they set up a DJ to play music. There’s a braai set up to one side so if you get a snack attack, you can get a chicken or some sausages. Not many people were actually *in* the bar; everyone was hanging out in the parking lot having a good time. This was a real Zimbabwe experience. I wish I could have captured it but I think you just had to be there.
And Jake told us that hanging out in parking lots and drinking is pretty common. There is an open container law (which surprised me because I’ve seen plenty of guys on the street drinking) but it’s not well enforced. But on the weekends, people gather in the parking lots in the middle of neighborhoods, bring their own beer, and play music on their car stereos and have a good time. I think it would be fun to check out but I certainly wouldn’t go there on my own.
At the place where we were, we were the only white people and over 90% of the people were guys. Women don’t drink much and only rarely smoke in Zimbabwean culture but guys do both quite a bit. There were some women there but not many. After a few drinks we were all feeling a bit tired and the music quality degenerated quickly so headed out. Mark was going back home on Saturday and I think we gave him a good send off. He’s a great guy and I hope to see him again some day.