Monday, August 16, 2010

Dear Josh: Notes on packing to visit Durban

Dear Joshua,
I have been keeping a running list in my head of things I should mention as you pack to get ready.  Some of them I have already spoken about on the phone, like the charger to my new camera.   Apparently the Panasonic Lumix is not sold in any of the mall camera  shops in Durban and nobody sells chargers or batteries.   I hope you can find it or I shall be using Dad's 8 year old Canon EOS with its 64 Meg memory chip.   

Dad said it was top of the line at the time, taking 5 MB pictures.   

David commented that it meant we could only take 10 shots.

Another thing we are looking for (but you can't really help with) is black primer.  We haven't found a hobby shop yet and Frost has been building Warhammer Zombies.  There was a slight accident with the kit he packed - the plastic glue leaked in the suitcase and melted through the plastic box we had it stored in.  It melted an entire Warhammer skeleton during the flight, leaving a sticky grey residue and a hole in the hard box.  Thankfully, the clothes were spared by a plastic bag.

Frost says that the plastic glue did not melt the plastic bag because it is not polystyrene plastic and that is the only kind of plastic it melts.

You might also consider bringing a muzzle for a large dog.  Dad has three dogs.  Two of them are very sweet (or rather, too old to bother with us).   Puppy is ancient with a bald patch the length of his back.  He dodders around looking like a scabby hyena.  Cotton, the one who is allegedly brain damaged from jumping out a car as a puppy, has all her fur but not all her marbles and Wren has taken her for a walk and petted her.

Charlie is young and Wren calls him "the Bad Dog."   I think he is a bit wicked too.

Last night Frost was petting him and Charlie bit him.  It drew blood on the edge of his nail and there was a big tooth-round bruise on Frost's hand.  Charlie is now in disgrace and kept outside.   I have googled dog biting and apparently it does not work to "punish" (David has threatened a baseball bat if That Dog threatens My Nephews!) because it can escalate the behavior or cause the dog to live in heightened anxiety leading to more aggression.

Wren witnessed the bite and is now even more alarmed about Bad Dogs.

Its not hard to be alarmed by dogs out here.  Every home in the neighborhood has a pack of guard [kill] dogs gnashing at the gate.  Rotweillers are popular as are german shepherds.  As you walk down the street the dogs rush to the bars of the automatic gates and gnash out heaving barks at you.  Frost said that "all the dogs are on guard around here but that dog is really scary - you can hear it panting between barks."

The American Embassy residence has a corgi.  Apparently the US relies on other lines of defense.

The Chinese Embassy Residence has no visible dog but is lit up like a Christmas Tree with electric fence and surveillance.

The Angolan Embassy residence has a guy with a walkie-talkie, on his cell-phone.  They looked pretty relaxed.

Now, about the weather.  Its winter here but its not like winter.   Its always sunny and very very dry.  Dad says its the driest he can ever remember.  The grass is all dried up and the red-dust earth blows around a bunch.  Even the hardy plants like the dracina are looking depleted.

During the day we wear t-shirts and shorts or jeans, but as the dusk falls you will need a sweater.  I haven't worn the Blundstones once - its all sandals - but the sneakers are good if you want to ride the bikes through the cane, take Frost for a ride or do some exercise.

Although you always travel light, this time you really don't need to pack many clothes.  At home, it takes about a week to get clothes back through the laundry (no wonder you hide your lightly used clothes behind the door).  Here, there is a mysterious process by which anything you set down ends up in the laundry, and returns, cleaned, to your cupboard before you notice it gone.  Other times, it never returns.  I guess that things are 'mis-filed' into other people's closets.  Underwear is particularly prone to loss.

Perhaps you should pack extra underwear.

You don't need to bring toys.  The kids are watching television and romping around with their new guns.  I bought them each another gun because we left ours at home.  The guns are identical - they are black plastic, semi-automatic-looking, handguns but the boys have found a way to fight over them.  One gun makes sparks in its interior when the trigger is pulled.  The other does not.  Both want the one with the sparks because Wren says those are the bullets shooting and Frost says that is cool.

Frost says that is his gun.

Wren says that is his gun.

They fight and cry over it but also play a game where each one has a base on a bed and mounds up pillows for defenses.  Sometimes Wren uses "magical attack" instead of the gun.

The toyshop also sold real replica firearms that shoot blanks or pellets.  They look like the kind of thing bank robbers use to pretend to have a gun.   Perhaps these are sold in toyshops elsewhere in America but I have never seen them in a toyshop in Seattle and found them alarming.

Please remember to call SAA and change your food preference to something other than vegan vegetarian.  Perhaps even away from Vegetarian.  I know you will be grumpy if you have to eat what we had.  

If any boxes of things are delivered before you arrive.  Could you open them and bring them with you if they are not yours?  David and Orion are thinking of ordering a few clothes to bring with you.

Wren had a sore throat the night before last but it was gone in the morning.  He complained once about it during the day but has not since.  Dad and Ingrid don't seem to own a thermometer so it might be good to have ours.

Oh, and remember to print out your United frequent flyer number to get airmiles.

List of things I need:
Lumix charger
Lumix charger
Lumix charger
The digital thermometer.

Mysteriously, the LAN connection persists a while after I unplug.  Nobody can explain it.  I am sitting in the kitchen unhooked but still online.  The network connection says the same thing.  Orion thinks that perhaps my laptop is hooked up to some neighboring wi-fi but we cannot tell from where.  Also, it doesn't hook up unless I get a connection via the LAN first.  I wonder if you can solve this puzzle or will simply enjoy it.


Brandi said...

You are so so lovely, Shannon. Thanks for posting all of these travel observations.

Shannon said...

Thank you for saying so, Brandi. I really enjoyed writing this post. Sometimes it is more fun to simply muse rather than write about an outing or event.

Hope you are well and enjoying a good ole US summer.