What Did We Do?

Dennis and Jenny Hacker's Year in Africa

Jen’s recuperation and WHAT?????

March 15, 2018 | I didn't expect that!

Time is flying by. The first two weeks of Jen’s recovery were tough. Trying to get pain control when she couldn’t have NSAID’s was hard. The next three weeks were good as she gained mobility and was taking physical therapy three times a week. Now, in the early part of the sixth week, she’s using a hiking pole instead of a single crutch. For the last few days, she’s walked a few yards with nothing but her own two legs. It’s fatiguing for her, and there is discomfort, but she’s constantly improving. I’m very proud of her.

When we were in our early period of being in Africa, we seriously thought about either staying here or moving here permanently. We even discussed the options with a tax attorney. As we stayed here longer, we really started missing our friends at home. It’s easy to meet people here and they are certainly friendly. As many of us know, when you move to a new area, almost everyone you meet has their own friends and family in the area. It’s hard to get a circle of friends in that environment. In addition, we realized that in our 70’s it’s a tough time to uproot yourself and begin again in a new country. We’d have to return home in any event. If we were moving, we’d have to sell everything and begin anew here. I believe we’ll make our final decision once we’re home.

Originally, we had decided to return to the States at the end of May. Due to the drought here, which are severe, we decided to return to the States at the end of April.

Cape Town was expected to run out of water the middle of April. Then, they cut off all water to farmers and that extended it to the middle of May. We had a small rain a couple weeks ago. At our flat, it wasn’t much. BUT, in the Western Cape, it must have been huge as there were 9 people drown. There was some reservoir filling and now the “Day Zero” is the middle of July. There is much controversy about this “Day Zero” affair. Some think it is just a ploy by the local governments to get people to conserve. The feeling is that they aren’t going to shut off water to businesses as this will cripple the local economy.

Currently, the plan is to have water distribution sites (100-200) around the city. People will have to queue up to get their 22 liters of water per person in their household. There are about 4 million residents here. That means there will be between 20,000-40,000 people per site. The water distribution will only run about 10-12 hours a day. I don’t see how this is feasible. Oh, yes, I didn’t mention that there would be armed guards at each site to prevent hijacking water trucks/bottles and reselling them.

We don’t have a car and “trolley” to move 22 liters of water weighting 48 pounds. I just can’t see me moving two of them daily for washing dishes and toilet flushing. How would we get laundry done? How to shower?

One of our friends here went to a spring in the Newlands area to try it out. He took two bottles and had to park quite a way from the spring. After filling the bottles, he had to leave one and carry the other. Exhausted, he returned to get the second bottle. Another person in line said he could borrow his trolley to move the second bottle. He readily accepted. After getting the second bottle to his car, he returned the trolley and walked back to his car to find a parking ticket for R500 (about $50 USD). Pretty expensive “free” water and backbreaking work. Not for me! After getting it home, moving the water up to and into your home becomes another problem. I believe this is a business opportunity for some enterprising individuals: getting water allotments to individuals in their homes. At least WE won’t have to do it now that we’re coming home in April.

There has been talk of installing desalination plants here. TALK, no action. A specialist from France was here to discuss “desal” with the local government bodies. He was scheduled to be here 2 weeks and left after 2 days. No one was really interested in his proposals. It’s like having children in the back seat of your car on a trip. After a while, one of them encroaches on another’s area. Then it’s poking and finally whining begins and “It’s his/her fault, not mine.” That’s what the government officials are doing. Pointing the finger at each other and whining.

The local government (Democratic Alliance or DA) wants the national government (African National Congress or ANC) to foot most of the bill for desalinization and the ANC says it isn’t their problem. So now, the DA is drilling bore holes to the aquifer (stealing future water) and getting water from other localities via pipes. Companies here say they can have desalinization plants, which would provide 20 million liters per day, up and running in about 4-5 months. Nothing done! Finally, the ANC is proposing ousting the DA government and taking over the finances from here. What a mess!

FLASH!! The government has cancelled the “Day Zero” entirely!?! We haven’t had any rain. It turns out that the government feels that there will be enough rain this winter. A BIG BET!

What???

Since we’ve come to South Africa, I’ve had some pain in my right hip-the hip that had a replacement surgery in 2010. The pain doesn’t come when I’m walking but rather when I get up from sitting or lying down. After months of trying to figure out what was going on, I had a radiograph (x-ray) taken.

The radiologist said that both the portion in the pelvis bones (acetabulum) and the part in the femur are loosening. I was very concerned as this apparent loosening may cause the femur or pelvis to break and that wouldn’t be good at all. I went to a hip expert here, who’s done over 4000 hip replacements, to find out what my options are in his opinion.

The answer from the surgeon is that the femoral portion of my hip replacement has moved down the central (medullary) canal about 1 cm. That is throwing off my hip and is causing my pain. My bones appear to be strong and it wasn’t an emergency to get a revision done. He did say that I would be best off with a revision. I’m going to get another opinion in a couple weeks from the surgeon that did Jenny’s hip. He’s only done more than 2000 surgeries. It appears that I have that to look forward to when I get back to the States.

Hermanus

Last week, we rented a car and drove to a small town in the Western Cape called Hermanus. Yes, we drove on the left side of the road. After almost a year of riding in cars on the left, it didn’t bother us at all. On the way, we went a little out of our way to go to Point L’Agulhas, the southernmost point in Africa. It is where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. Not much to see, but a bucket list item for me.

Jenny straddles the meeting of the Oceans.

We’d been to the Southernmost point in India (Cape Cormorin) when we were in India ten years ago. Now, to get to Cape Horn or Àguila Islet in South America.Now, Hermanus is a sleepy little town with beautiful houses. We walked around and had a lovely, relaxing time. We visited a couple of distilleries and tasted gins which were really interesting. Thursday, we drove home and actually were on the road for about 7 hours. Funny how we could drive 10-12 hours a day when we were younger. Now, after 4 hours we are really pooped. We now split driving every hour and a half.

Things are heating up for us socially as we approach the end of our year in Africa. We are actually doing more than we have all year. Sort of the last hurrah seeing friends we’ve made and our doctor and physical therapists.

FILED IN: This and That

Scroll Up