Working in Somerset West – S.A.

Well, the week is almost over.  It’s been quiet, but not boring, and quite productive.  Most of my coworkers are away at conferences.  I’ve been able to get to know the president and the accountant of the company.  Both are very interesting and friendly.

I work under the direction of the Operations Manager, who has asked me to clean up excel sheets and build shapefiles (used to create layers in GIS mapping) to express the findings from National Park survey programs.  The work load is enough to keep me busy, and I’m allowed the freedom to work on whichever project I choose at the time (so far).  I got stumped pretty quickly when presented with a variety of different types of coordinates and was asked to map them.  There are many types of coordinate systems, and if the wrong info. is used in arcGIS, the maps will be inaccurate.. SO, I researched a lot, to wrap my head around it.  I spent the week on this, and building a spreadsheet to use as a conversion tool for my coordinates.  I’ve tried to make it as comprehensive as possible, so it can still be used once I am back in Canada.
I have also learned that South Africa is home to Boubous, Barbets, and Drongos… Along with dozens of other bird species, I now know the proper spelling for.  Next I will conquer trees, and their latin names. Oye.

So, I was wondering, do we have “full cream milk” in Canada?  I drink 2%.. but here, the best tasting milk is called full cream.  They don’t have coffee cream, they just put this milk and they put it in the coffee and the tea.  It’s very good.

Oh, and there was a photo in my previous blog, where I asked you to take a guess at what it was.  I gave the hint that it’s found in S.A. homes, but not in Canadian homes.  Jamie was asking about it, so here is the answer.  It’s actually the electricity unit, on the wall in my kitchen:)  The buttons are to enter the code that you purchase at the corner store/gas station.  You buy your electricity there.  Completely foreign concept to me.  It costs around $10 CAN for 2 weeks, unless you have the heaters running, then you get about a week and a half.  Just an addition piece of info. – people living in townships are provided free electricity by the government here.  Sometimes you see T.V. satellite dishes outside shacks. Interesting sight.

I went to a pub last night.  It was grungy, and smelly, and filled with a very diverse crowd.  There was a live band, that played the same classic rock music I hear on Q107 back in Toronto.  The main singer was wearing orange spandex pants, and had a very nice skullet.  They were good. I was there with about 8 German people, mostly girls who volunteer through WorkTravelSA.  This company brings in the volunteers that do various programs, including social work, conservation, and the field surveying to collect the data I am managing right now.  One girl has asked me to go paragliding with her.  Perhaps I will.

There are pros and cons about everything in life, but I must say, I’m not impressed with the “Tomato Sauce”.. Where is the Ketchup?! and where are the Ketchup chips?!

If the weather is nice on Monday, I am going to hike up the Helderberg Mountain.  This is the mountain I live next to.

I will leave it at that for now.  I hope everyone back home is doing great!  Miss you!

-Stef, Somerset West, S.A.

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