Dinner with Mrs. de la Bat was delightful. We met at 7 pm and walked to a restaurant that a friend recommended to her (Beads Restaurant). We sat outside in the garden area. She decided on a dish of curry and I ordered a traditional South African dish called bobotie. The food was absolutely delicious, but the conversation was even better. The lovely thing about eating here is that you are never rushed. Food takes longer to come to you, but you never mind. We sat and talked for over an hour after the last crumb of food left the table.
I learned more about Etosha and her husband’s work. I heard stories of how he obtained his pilot’s license so that he could fly a Piper Cub in the bush to manage the animals. I learned about a cooler made from coke/coals stuffed between chicken mesh. A pan of water is set to drip continually over the coals and as the water evaporates, the inside is kept cool enough (not like a freezer or fridge, but enough to keep the meat from a springbok from spoiling for a week).
She described for me some of her recent travels with the Department of Ancient Studies. She has been to Turkey and to Italy. She has been a widow for 25 years, has 3 grandchildren, and is finishing another Masters degree (in literature). She runs the guesthouse rooms as a kind of side business. She says that the business is not her bread and butter, but it provides the jam for her bread. In short, she is an amazing woman, full of life and stories and I wish I could spend more time with her. I will definitely want to stay with her again when I come back to Stellenbosch.
But the most amusing conversation was about politics. American politics. I am amazed at how well-informed so many South Africans are about our election. They know each candidate, have opinions, and always ask me questions (I’m put to shame that I don’t know some of the answers). She says that Clinton and Obama are much more exciting to hear about, but she thinks that Clinton is too “party line.” She thinks Obama is someone who will think outside the box. But she also doesn’t know if we can overcome the race issue. She thinks Hillary should wear a suit with a skirt every now and then. She doesn’t think the pant suits are flattering to her (“I would love to call her up and tell her to wear a businesslike skirt suit because she is a little wide in the beam and the pantsuits don’t help.”) She liked some of the issues that the Republicans were raising. I asked her why so many people here were so interested in our election. She said because what happens in America will eventually affect them.
I just learned tonight that we are having a full lunar eclipse between 3 and 5 am, so I am going to try to get up and view that.