The South African Series

Why Can’t I Quit You?!?!

This house and I are in a toxic relationship. I know exactly how Heath Ledger felt in Brokeback Mountain.

Well, not exactly.

  One of the best things about my stay in SA so far has been this house. Ironically, it’s also been one of the worst. You see that behind me? That’s a rooftop view of the ocean, which is incidentally a 3 minute walk from my house. No really. I come out of the driveway, hang a left, walk through some bushes and I’m on the beach! It’s done wonders for my soul, and wreaked havoc on my laundry.

This is the back yard. As you can partly see, it’s spacious and has a white picket fence. I’ve always wanted a white picket fence.

The kitchen is spacious and has marble (or marble-like) counter tops. It’s stocked with any dish and/or appliance you would ever need. At dinner, the whole family has our repast at a table that seats 8 and at night I bathe my children in an enormous bath tub that fits all 4 of them at once.

  After I’ve been lulled to sleep by the sound of crashing waves, I am awakened by the sun gently filtering through sliding glass doors and broad windows. My room has excellent lighting. With no occupational obligations, I casually have a shower in a 5’x3’ shower (this is no exaggeration) and brush my teeth in my own sink. (Marshall clips his man hair in the other.)

At first glance, this house has everything I’ve ever wanted in a home; but like a bad man trying to woo you into a destructive relationship, it also has some things I’d rather live without. The longer you live in this house, the more the flaws become apparent. And like a victim in many a bad relationship, I am ashamed to admit that I have been more than willing to compromise on some major issues.

I have largely come to ignore the cracks in many of the walls in virtually every room. The house isn’t going to collapse anytime soon, right? For the last 2 nights, we’ve had powerful seaside storms with wind gusts of up to 40/mph. I thought for sure that a whole colony of rain spiders would be in our living room the next morning, but I got another, equally unpleasant surprise when I woke: The storm had forced water through the roof and leaked all over the foyer, the kitchen and part of the dining room. Marshall sopped up the water with 6 or more towels. As we were discussing the problem, Aya bounded into the kitchen.

“Nadjah’s bed is leaking too, Mommy,” she said.

“What do you mean her bed is leaking? Did she pee – ?”

Aya shook her head.

“No. The rain fell on her bed and now it’s leaking!” she said excitedly.

Sure enough, I walked into the girl’s room to discover that the carpet was logged with water, with nowhere to go. Marshall threw down another towel.

Water dripped for the remainder of the day, so we set buckets on the floor in strategic areas. Buckets! In a luxury seaside home! As it turns out, the owner of the house is Jewish and is unfortunately living up to every stereotype that has been cast on his clan. The dude is just cheap.

As the day went on, a new mold colony began to grow on the crown molding in the dining room. But none of this, not even the stagnant pond sitting in the girls’ room mattered to me. We could work it out. I mean, the beach is a 3 minute walk away!

  The house has other foibles, like the sonic boom that occurs every time the tap is turned on in the kitchen or bathrooms; and like the instant power outage that befalls us when we use the largest burner on the stove. But all those can be worked around. Like I said – the beach is a 3 minute walk away.

I had determined in my heart to love this house and stay in it for the duration of our summer, despite its flaws…until something unforgivable happened. The house does not have DSL capability.

What you may not know is that I write several posts in a day and have them scheduled to automatically post since I can’t get online. In order for me to do this, I sit outside some guy’s house and use his unsecured network between the hours of 8 and 9 pm. This is creepy…creepy and dangerous, and clearly cannot continue.

Marshall also needs the net to do his work remotely, and has been going to a local internet café to do his work. We’ve been waiting nearly 2 weeks to get our internet up and running, and have encountered a serious road block. On Wednesday, two white men from Telkom showed up at our door (one of them in a Confederate T-shirt that read “South Riot”), surveyed the property, and informed us that in order to put in a phone line, they would have to dig up tiles and basically pray fire from heaven to guarantee any success. This required the owner’s approval, who being cheap, disapproved most vehemently.  

 My heart sank.

By the time you read this on Monday, we’ll have moved to River Club – far, far away from the beach. 🙁