Our town is quite quaint, complete with a town hall. The only time I've been in there is for Carols by Candlelight around Christmas. They often hold Afrikaans concerts there; no thanks, I'll pass.
The post office ALWAYS has long lines. The usual slow service is combined with an assortment of services and items for sale that should not be available in a post office. You can play the lottery, do your banking, send faxes, purchase school supplies, pay your speeding tickets, and make photocopies. So those who are there on legitimate post office business (you know, buying stamps and mailing packages), are stuck waiting in line behind everyone else who's there to do any number of things. Fun times.
Shopping is fairly limited in Harrismith. We have a few grocery stores, two video rental stores (who have slowly been building up a selection available in DVD format), and probably 9 furniture stores. Pretty much every small town in SA has a ton of furniture stores; unfortunately they all sell pretty much the same junk. (Funny enough, one year a furniture store advertised a free sheep with any purchase over R2000. Only in Africa!) No Lowe's or Home Depot, just lots of small hardware stores. Most of the stores close at 5:00 during the week, at 1:00 on Saturdays, and don't open at all on Sundays. I think they even roll up the streets after 9 PM.
It is an unwritten law that it's okay for a woman driving by herself to not wait at a red light after dark. Because of the high rate of crime in SA, a woman can come to a stop and then just continue on if there are no cars going the other way. I like to make use of that whenever I can; not because I feel unsafe, but simply because I'm impatient!
We do have some restaurants in our fine city. Our eateries include:
- KFC - they are everywhere in Africa, are much better than the American ones, and are affectionately called "Kentucky"
- Nandos - yummy grilled chicken, from mild to extra hot
- Spur - steaks/tex mex with an odd Native American decor that you need to see to believe!
- Juicy Lucy - smoothies and sandwiches; a fun new addition to our town
- Wimpy - burgers/breakfast; not too high on my favorites list
- Debonairs Pizza - twenty minutes out of town, but worth the drive when we have time to make it
The restaurants are typically "open till late", meaning they're open until they decide to close or everyone has left. This could mean 9:00 or 10:00, you'll just have to wait and see!
We live 15-20 minutes outside of town (the opposite side than that of the pizza place). The dirt road leading out to our base is really bad right now. All the rain we've had in the past few months has left it looking like Swiss cheese (which, by the way, is not available here; Amers, remember how badly we wanted it so you could make your yummy Swiss Chicken?!). So the drive is a bit longer than usual since we have to drive a bit slower than usual. We're not that far from town, but we're far enough that sometimes weeks can go by with me not ever leaving the base! The lack of a personal car is the largest contributing factor to that; we're believing to be able to buy something next year. With gas currently at over $4 a gallon, it's a challenge to pay the expenses for all the ministry vehicles right now, never mind throwing another car into the mix.
Well, that's a glimpse of good ol' Harrismith. All you need to know and more! Now you need to come see for yourself, if you haven't yet, or come see how it's changed, if you've been here before! The welcome mat is out; come on over!